Resume Tip Tuesday: How to Manage Nerves on Your Way to a Job Interview

Posted October 18, 2016

Welcome back to Resume Tip Tuesday! Come to CareerBliss every Tuesday for a brand new job-seeking tip to help you in your job search. Check out the archive for resume tips galore!

Interview Nerves

It's Interview Day, and all sorts of thoughts are running through your head. What if the interviewer doesn't like you? What if you spill something down the front of your new white shirt? What if you do your best, only for a better candidate to show up and take your job away?

Everyone thinks like this right before an interview. After all, your career hangs in the balance, so you want to do everything you possibly can in order for this interview to succeed. Still, allowing negative thoughts to get the best of you isn't the most productive thing to do pre-interview.

Instead, take a break from dwelling on the worst-case interview scenarios and follow the tips below:

1. Do Breathing Exercises

Most breathing exercises that help you relax take about 10 minutes or less, so you can do them in the car on your way to the interview, or even in the office waiting room. One exercise you can try is the abdominal breathing technique, which goes like this:

  • Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  • Inhale through your nose. Make sure it's your diaphragm, not your chest, that's expanding to stretch your lungs.
  • Repeat once every minute for 10 minutes.

After the abovementioned exercise, you should experience a reduction in your blood pressure and heart rate, which will definitely help with those pre-interview nerves!

2. Eat Foods That Help You Relax

Yes, "stress eating" is bad, but only if you stuff yourself too much and indiscriminately. Choose foods that contain relaxing ingredients such as herbal tea, dark chocolate and oatmeal.

In case you have none of these treats in the pantry, no worries. You can always eat breakfast as usual prior to the interview. This way, you can trick your brain into thinking it's a day like any other, and be able to relax like you normally would.

3. Take a Walk

Studies have shown that exercise makes your body produce endorphins, which lift up your mood. Since you're busy with preparations prior to your interview, however, you may not have time to hit the gym.

Luckily, you can get around that with the easiest exercise in the world: walking. Even 30 minutes of brisk walking every day can burn as much as 1,000 to 3,000 extra calories per week. Take a quick walk before the interview to clear your mind and eliminate stress – just make sure you comb your windblown hair before the interview!

4. Stress-Proof Your Commute

If you can walk to your interview, that’s great. Most times, however, driving is necessary, which has bad news and good news. The bad news is commuting during rush hour, or over long distances, can cause short-term and long-term spikes in your blood pressure. The good news is, in spite of that, you can relax by doing the following:

  • Thanks to technology, many books are now available in audio form. Search for an audiobook version of your favorite fiction/nonfiction work online, hit "Download" and listen to it while you drive.
  • If your commute won't take that long, try shorter audio content like podcasts. Many of them are perfect for keeping your mind off things, like 99 Percent Invisible, Another Round and Reply All.
  • Plug your smartphone or iPod into your car’s AUX jack and play your favorite tunes. Can't get any simpler than that!

No need to get too fancy with your pre-interview relaxation techniques, though. If you prefer something more old-fashioned, remember your favorite songs and hum them to yourself in the car. Believe it or not, humming has a variety of health benefits such as reducing stress, improving your mood and even clearing up your sinuses!

5. Visualize Your Success

A wise person once said "You are what you think," and it's true. How you think your interview will turn out will probably come true because your brain likes to prove itself right. If you think you'll blurt out all the wrong answers or act self-conscious and uncomfortable, that may likely happen. However, if you think you'll pass the interview with flying colors, that will likely happen instead.

Don't believe it? Successful people like Muhammad Ali, Jim Carrey and Michael Jordan have all benefited from the power of visualization. Prior to their match/show/game, they picture themselves as the "greatest" in whatever they choose to do. Take a page out of their books and repeat this mantra to yourself as many times as you can: "I am the best candidate this company has!" (Another option for your car ride, in case you can’t find any good jams.)

6. Put Your Best Pose Forward

Even if you don't feel confident, posing like you are can boost your testosterone and cortisol levels. For example, the Wonder Woman pose works like this:

  • Stand straight with your chest out.
  • Put your hands on your hips.
  • Spread your feet apart slightly.

Hopefully, like the superhero herself, you'll also feel ready to take on the "bad guys" responsible for your jitters.

7. Wear Your Best Smile

Like power posing, smiling is an instant confidence booster. Not only does it calm you down, but it also makes you look more agreeable, increasing your chances of scoring points with your interviewer. Don't worry about having to "fake" your smile because it still works anyway. Smiling is the best makeup, indeed!

8. Double-Check Your Essentials

If there's one thing that can send anyone into instant panic mode, it's forgetting to bring your resume five minutes before the interview. Even if you're 100 percent positive everything's in order, it won't hurt to check your bags one last time before you get behind the wheel and on your way to the interview. That way, you’re not stressing over whether or not you packed everything or searching through your portfolio while driving.

One little tip (learned from hard experience) – don’t put off printing your resume until the actual day of the interview. If you’re rushed and busy you may think that’s a good plan to make sure your printout looks crisp and fresh, but in reality this is a sure-fire recipe for paper jams and printer errors, or discovering your printer is out of toner and won’t print!

9. Give Yourself Time to Freshen Up

Ideally, you should aim to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the interview. This way, you have time do things like sit in your car for a few minutes and breathe, then head to the restroom, smooth out your clothes and re-touch your makeup.

If your throat feels dry, have a sip of water. Pop in a mint or chew some gum to freshen your breath (be sure to discard both long before your interview start time). Put your cellphone on silent mode or turn it off altogether to avoid interruptions while you're being interviewed.

10. Practice One Last Time

Find a private place to practice your Q&A. Preferably, it should be somewhere with a mirror, so you can see how you look when you answer questions. Once you're done with practice, you won't have to worry too much about slipping up when the interviewer gets down to business.

With the tips above, you'll feel the pre-interview jitters melt away in no time.


Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger who grew up in a military family. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site for professionals seeking happiness and success in their careers. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahLandrum and subscribe to her newsletter for more career tips.

Tune in next Tuesday for more great resume, cover letter and interview tips! Same time, same place!

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