Young woman sat in an office being interviewed by a man. The man is looking at some documents.

July 9, 2021, by indybamra1

How To Manage Interview Stress

The Career Wellbeing blog series. We know that thinking about your career, applying for jobs, and moving into the workplace can be exciting, but we also know that sometimes it can present challenges and might be a source of stress or anxiety. That’s why, in this blog series, we will explore some of the things that might cause you concern and provide helpful insight and advice, alongside ideas and inspiration for your future career wellbeing.

By Hannah Woolley, Careers and Employability Consultant: Professional Services Partnerships

Interviews can feel stressful, and it’s easy to see why: they don’t tend to be everyday occurrences and not knowing quite what to expect can be unnerving; you’re likely to be emotionally invested having ploughed time and energy into your application; and the idea of being in the spotlight, fielding questions, and bigging yourself up in front of a bunch of strangers might feel uncomfortable.

Fortunately, though, a certain amount of stress can sometimes be helpful. If channelled in the right way, it can motivate you to take action and help you to maintain focus.

So, how might you keep your stress level at a productive, appropriate level?

Lower the stakes

Try not to build your interview up into an all-or-nothing scenario. Telling yourself that you must be successful, or you’ll forever be unemployed is only going to pile on the pressure. Even if you really want this job, remember that it isn’t your only shot at success, other opportunities will arise.

Reframe the situation

Think of an interview as an opportunity to have a conversation with a group of interesting professionals who all believe that you have the potential to strengthen their team and want to help you to succeed. Plus, an interview is as much about you finding the right organisation as it is for them finding the right candidate.

Prepare thoroughly

You’re much more likely to feel calm and in control, if you have thought about what you’re likely to be asked, identified your most relevant strengths, and prepared a range of examples to draw on. Practising how you might respond to questions aloud can also help. This gives you an opportunity to play with how you express your experience. Plus, hearing yourself talk about your skills and achievements might offer a confidence boost.

Reduce uncertainties

Not knowing what to expect can make you feel anxious, so read any information provided carefully and sort out any logistical or technical aspects in advance. If you’re being interviewed in person, visit the location at a similar time of day to alleviate concerns about getting lost or being late. If you’re being interviewed virtually, try out the platform beforehand to minimise the chance of any glitches on the day.

Experiment with ways to relax or boost confidence

Find a couple of techniques that will help you to adopt a positive mindset and manage stress immediately before your interview. You could try:

  • Taking a mindful moment – ground yourself in the present to combat racing thoughts. Notice your surroundings and senses; what can you hear, feel, smell, see or taste? Or, simply focus on your breathing. Check out these mindfulness apps recommended by The University Counselling Service.
  • Listening to music – create a playlist to calm or motivate. Choose feel-good tracks that remind you of happy times, select songs with lyrics that you find uplifting, or go for soothing nature sounds.
  • Putting pen to paper – distract yourself with a puzzle or doodle away any nervous energy.
  • Adopting a power pose – this involves standing in a position that you associate with a feeling of confidence. For example, striking a superhero stance or creating a V for victory with your arms.
  • Reciting a positive mantra – pick a short phrase that will help you to remind yourself that you are a strong candidate. Repeat this to yourself several times whenever you need a confidence lift.

Build a connection

Meet the panel with a smile and try to make some small talk. People often kindly respond to this and may well mirror your behaviour! So by adopting an amiable approach, you encourage them to do the same, and this is likely to put everyone, including you, at ease.

Regain control

If you do encounter a wobble and stumble over your words, remember that it’s OK to take a moment to recover your composure. Pause to take a few breaths or sip water, check in with your posture, ground your feet on the floor, and then continue. This will also demonstrate self-awareness and an ability to deal with challenges proactively.

For further support:

  • Visit our Interviews web page for information and a video about our how to overcome interview nerves.
  • Book an application and interview support appointment with an adviser to discuss any concerns.
  • Visit the NHS’s Every Mind Matters web page to find out more about stress and how to manage it.
Posted in Career wellbeingGraduating in 2021Interviews