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How to Get Rid of Job Interview Nerves

Updated on October 10, 2012

Many people suffer from nerves before a job interview. Successfully articulating your way through a job interview is a crucial step in the hiring process. With so much pressure riding on the job applicant, it often causes stress and anxiety, which in turn, can actually hinder their performance. Many people end up blowing job interviews because their ability to focus on answering questions is drastically affected by their anxiety. Sometimes their anxiety is even visible in their actions and behaviors, and it comes across as a weakness to those conducting an interview. When compared to cool, calm and collected job applicants interviewing for the same position, the anxious applicant is often at a huge disadvantage. No matter how much more qualified for the job, the anxious interviewee is judged on their weak interview skills.

Understanding Interviews

The key to overcoming interview nerves is being prepared. The more prepared you are to answer anything they throw at you, the more confidence you have in your ability to answer the questions. When you are called to an interview the employers have to make their decisions based on three areas relevant to all jobs:

  • your qualifications and skills—what you know and what you can do
  • your experience and work background—where you have been and what you have done
  • your personality and character—who you are and how you behave


The most important of these is the last one. Candidates can fall short of the advertised skills and job qualifications, and even lack the required experience but still manage to convince the employer that they are the best candidate. Skills can be taught and experience can be gained once in the job if necessary—but personality is something that is not likely to be changed.

If you can convey a sense of confidence and that you are a valuable asset to the organization, your chances are far better than if you appear timid and can't answer the questions. No employer wants to hire a new person at work who has to have their hand held for the first three months of their employment. Employers want someone that can come in and adapt straight away with minimum fuss and effort. It is better for their company. If you have poor interview skills, you're a questionable candidate.

The most common reason that people do so poorly in job interviews is directly related to their nerves stopping them from doing their best. Nerves play a part in the applicant's ability to hear the questions properly; lose track of what they are trying to say; totally forget the material and examples they were prepared to talk about; and feel embarrassed about how they are coming across. It is important to realize and recognize the behaviors that are detrimental to the interview process and make an conscientious effort to change.

For those who have an extremely hard time with interviews, and can't get past the anxiety—practice answering mock interview questions until the answers come naturally. You can get lists of commonly asked interview questions and advice on how to answer them on the internet. Through practice, the answers to the questions will start to come naturally and ease the anxiety. You don't want to sound like a robot during the interview though, so just use it as a tool to get you more comfortable answering difficult questions.


Planning and Preparing

Planning and preparation allow you to immerse yourself in the process to give yourself confidence which leads to enthusiasm and success. The first step in preparing for any interview is deciding in advance your view of yourself, how you see the employer, and your ideas about what you will do in the job. This requires a little research on your part. Do a little research about the company and the position in which you are being interviewed for and develop a plant to depict yourself and your strengths in relation to the job.

Reflect on your employment history, and try to understand how it will look when it is being considered through the eyes of an employer. Can you easily identify transferable skills that directly apply to the job you are interviewing for? What practical activities did you do in your last job?

It is helpful to make a list at this stage to remind yourself of how you spent time in your previous jobs. Think about what you did well in those jobs, your achievements, and key abilities. Define your strengths and skills and be prepared to explain any gaps in your employment history. The more you prepare yourself for the questions that are likely to be covered, and rehearse, the more confident and prepared you will be when answering the questions during an interview.

Golden Rules of Job Interviews

  1. Always be positive about previous jobs and employers. From an employers point of view, it doesn't look good when you trash your previous boss. It gives the impression that if they hire you and you decide to go somewhere else that you will trash their company as well. Not to mention, it is just bad manners.
  2. Always be enthusiastic and motivated. The candidate who exhibits the most enthusiasm has a great advantage over the rest. Coworkers are more interested in working with a person who comes into work each day with a great attitude and doesn't drag the rest of the workplace down with negativity.
  3. Capitalize on your strengths. Keep in mind the only thing an employer knows about you is what is in your application, resume and what you are going to say in your interview. Therefore what you say about yourself dictates the impression that the interviewer will have of you (including your skills, personality, and experience). Turn negative aspects of your past into positive experiences by stressing what you learned or how you developed character from the situation.

© 2012 crissytsu

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