interview-anxiety

7 Tips to Calm Your Interview Anxiety

John H.

John H.

I love iced coffee, cute pictures of dogs, and SQL. I've previously worked at Big Tech as a data analyst and now spend my time writing and helping job seekers ace their big tech interview @ bigtechinterviews.com.

7 Tips to Calm Your Interview Anxiety

 

It’s no secret, we all get interview anxiety from time to time. Even senior candidates with decades of experience still get the jitters right before a big interview with their dream company. 

Interview anxiety is often cited as one of the main reasons a candidate is unable to perform at his or her best and could ultimately cost them the job to another candidate with similar skills.

So what can you do to calm your interview anxiety and perform at your best during your next interview? 

I’ll cover everything you need to do to reduce your interview anxiety and increase your chances of acing your dream interview! 

Table of Contents: 

  • Preparation
  • Sleep 
  • Exercise
  • Reduce caffeine intake 
  • Mock interviews
  • Meditation 
  • Positive self-talk

Preparation

There’s no shortcut to success. If you want to ace your interview, you’ve got to put in the time to vigorously prepare. 

The best way to reduce your anxiety is by knowing the key concepts to include in your responses to the interviewer’s questions. 

To identify which key concepts to include and which ones to leave out, I suggested leveraging this simple, four-step framework when preparing for an upcoming interview: 

  • Review the job posting and identify the key responsibilities and duties of the role.
  • Network with someone at the company or research Glassdoor in order to gain an insider’s perspective on the interview process and culture. 
  • Prepare responses to the ten most common interview questions.
  • Research the interviewer and pick 3-5 questions to ask the interviewer.  

This simple 4 step process will help you be better prepared for your upcoming interview and help you feel more confident and calm on the day of your interview.

In addition to preparing for questions, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the company’s culture and values. This can be done by reading the company’s website, blog, Glassdoor, or even networking with a current/ex-employee on LinkedIn. 

A very simple intro message is the following, 

 “Hi, I’m ____. I came across your profile and noticed that you’re currently working at/used to work at ____ Company. I’m currently in the process of interviewing with ____ Company for a ____ position and was wondering if you had any advice on what I should expect during the interview process and what the culture is like? I would really appreciate any advice you have!”  

Most people are willing to help and by doing this you’ll be able to get an insider’s perspective of what to expect during your interview, which will help calm any nerves or anxiety you may have.

The better you understand the interview process, company’s culture, role, and values, the more likely you’ll position yourself as the ideal candidate they’re looking for.

If you’re preparing for a technical interview, check out Big Tech Interviews! They have the latest SQL interview questions and offer 1:1 interview coaching. 

Sleep 

A good night’s sleep is crucial for reducing stress and anxiety levels. Most people need between 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but some people may need more or less. Leading up to your interview, make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night and avoid working late into the night as this can negatively impact your sleep quality.

Besides creating health problems such as weight gain, anxiety, depression, and even heart disease, poor sleep the night before your interview can make it difficult to focus and make you more likely to forget important details.

A few tips to improve your sleep habits are to: 

  • Establish a regular bedtime and waking time 
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol six hours before bed 
  • Avoid working or using electronic devices an hour before bed 
  • Create a calm and relaxing bedroom environment 

One of my favorite things to do to improve my sleep is to read before bed. This helps me wind down and relax after a long day. If reading isn’t your thing, try listening to calm music or an audiobook.

Exercise  

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. It also has the added benefit of improving your mood, focus, and energy levels. 

A recent study found that just 10 minutes of moderate exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. 

There are many different ways to exercise, so find what works best for you and make it a part of your daily routine leading up to your interview. 

A few simple exercises you can do to reduce stress and improve your mood are: 

  • Running 
  • Hiking 
  • Swimming 
  • Yoga 
  • Weightlifting

Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it can also improve your mental well-being. Exercise has been shown to help reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and boost self-confidence. Even, if you can’t workout before your interview a short 10-15 minute walk can help improve your mood and reduce stress.

Reduce caffeine intake 

Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase anxiety levels and make it difficult to focus. If you’re someone who is prone to anxiety, it’s best to avoid caffeine the day of your interview. If you can’t go without caffeine, try to limit your intake to one cup of coffee or switch to decaf the morning of your interview.  

Caffeine can also impact your sleep the night before your interview, so it’s best to avoid caffeine in the evening as well.

A few tips to decrease your caffeine intake are to: 

  • Switch to decaf coffee 
  • Limit your intake to one cup of coffee 
  • Switch to tea

Mock interviews 

Mock interviews are a great way to reduce anxiety and improve your interview skills. You can practice a mock interview by yourself where you pretend to be the interviewer and answer common interview questions out loud. 

Also, if you’re preparing for a technical interview you can use platforms like Big Tech Interviews to practice with a coach or peer. 

A few tips to simulate a mock interview are to: 

  • Reach out to a friend and ask him/her to quiz you over the most common interview questions
  • Join an online mock interview platform like Big Tech Interviews
  • Record yourself answering common interview questions

Mock interviews are a great way to reduce anxiety and improve your behavioral and SQL interview skills. By simulating a real interview, you can get comfortable with the format and learn how to answer common questions.

  • Remember, the STAR format as a way to structure your responses to behavioral interview questions: 
  • S-Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to complete. 
  • T-Task:  What were you responsible for? 
  • A-Action: What actions did you take to complete the task or situation? 
  • R-Result: What was the outcome of your actions?

Practicing with a friend or family member can help you get comfortable with the format and reduce your anxiety. If you’re preparing for a technical interview, you can join an online mock interview platform like Big Tech Interviews to practice with a coach or peer.

Meditation

One of my favorite ways to decrease interview anxiety is to meditate by focusing on my breath. This simple and effective method has helped me calm my nerves before many interviews. 

Meditation can be done anywhere, at any time, and only takes a few minutes. You can practice meditation by focusing on your breath and counting each inhale and exhale. Once you get to 10, start over again. If your mind wanders, that’s okay, just gently bring your focus back to your breath. 

A few tips for meditating are to: 

  • Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down 
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breath 
  • Count each inhale and exhale until you get to 10 
  • Start over again if your mind wanders

Now, I can’t talk about meditation without also mentioning the benefits of deep breathing. 

It’s another great way to calm your nerves before an interview. When we’re anxious, our breathing becomes shallow and rapid which can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. 

By focusing on deep, slow breaths, we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system which leads to a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. This can help us feel more relaxed and less anxious.

[Bonus] – A few tips for deep breathing are to: 

Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down 

  • Close your eyes and focus on your breath 
  • Breathe in through your nose, filling up your stomach first, and then your chest 
  • Breathe out slowly through your mouth 
  • Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes

Positive self-talk

Positive self-talk is a great way to calm your nerves before an interview. It allows you to reframe your thoughts and focus on the positive aspects of the situation. It’s not uncommon to have to battle your negative inner voice before an interview, but with positive self-talk, you can drown out that negative voice and boost your confidence. 

A few tips for positive self-talk are to: 

  • Write out three of your most proud accomplishments 
  • Visualize yourself acing the interview 
  • Remind yourself that everyone gets nervous before an interview
  • Talk to someone who makes you feel good 

Before my last job interview, I talked to my best friend who always makes me feel good about myself. She helped boost my confidence and reminded me of all the reasons why I was qualified for the position. Talking to someone who makes you feel good before an interview can help calm your nerves and make you feel more confident going into the interview. 

In conclusion,  

We’ve covered the seven steps to calm your interview anxiety and make sure you ace the interview!

Practicing ahead of time, meditating, deep breathing, and positive self-talk are all great ways to calm your nerves before an interview. By using these techniques, you can decrease your anxiety and increase your chances of acing the interview.

I’ll leave you with a final quote,  

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Winnie the Pooh. 

So go out there and ace that interview!

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