How to Handle Anxiety in a Job Interview

Absolutely anyone can suffer from interview anxiety regardless of age, experience or lifestyle.

Interviews are natural sources of stress and anxiety – particularly when your dream job is on the line and you’re feeling the pressure.

Likewise, rejection following an interview can chip at the self-esteem of even the most confident person, making the next one even more difficult.

If you do suffer from anxiety or stress, the most important thing to do is realise you’re struggling and taking steps to combat it before it becomes a larger problem.

Our Top Tips for Handling Anxiety and Stress in a Job Interview

You may feel alone but the truth is, job interviews are stressful environments for most people. Some of the most common stress and anxiety symptoms people face in an interview is:

• Sweating

• Rambling or speaking too quickly

• ‘Blank-Mind’ syndrome and forgetfulness

• Panic attacks

• Cancelling interviews before they’ve even happened

• Avoiding going to the interview altogether

• Physical symptoms such as skin rashes, flare-ups of pre-existing conditions

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, you’re likely feeling anxiety or stress around your interview. 

Here are our top 10 tips for handling anxiety and stress in a job interview setting:

1. Be honest

People often feel like they have to put on an act or a veneer of themselves during an interview. 

Unfortunately, this often works against you.

The whole point of an interview is to give the employer an insight into you as both a person and a professional.

The more you act like yourself, the more comfortable you’ll be – making it easier to build a rapport with the interviewer.

Similarly, employers often want to gauge how you as an individual will fit into their company culture, which is increasingly important.

2. Don’t try to memorise answers

Unless you’re a professional actor, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to memorise answers to interview questions. 

This is a common mistake people make and, for the most part, is an impossible task that often leads to nervousness, rambling and ‘freezing up’.

Instead, memorise key points to common thought processes an interviewer might have.

For example, ‘tell me about yourself?’ is a different question to ‘tell me about your previous work history’ but you can largely answer both with similar points.

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3. Understand your value

Throughout the interview process – even when you’re on the way – remind yourself of the positives you’d bring to the role.

When you’re anxious it’s easy to doubt yourself, which affects how well you come across. Taking the time to understand your value, reinforce your strengths and revisit your experience may improve your confidence.

When you’re preparing for the interview, it’s worth creating a positive checklist of these points you can refer back to.

4. Work on recovering from rejection or failure

At some point, everyone experiences interview failure.

Fortunately, rejection doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly terrible at interviews. An unsuccessful interview can be down to several factors, many of which are usually out of your control.

Understanding this and going in with a positive mind set – as well as using other points across this list – is a great way of combating failure.

5. Take your time

One of the biggest contributors to interview anxiety is the feeling of having to answer your questions quickly and perfectly otherwise you’ll appear sub-par.

Thankfully, nobody’s perfect.

If you find yourself losing your train of thought or you’re happy with your answer, start again. Simply tell the interviewer what happened and if you’d be able to start again.

Compose yourself and remember, an interview is a conversation more than an exercise in answering questions with scripted answers.

6. Tell the interview you’re nervous

Sometimes it can help to simply mention your nervousness prior to the interview.

It’s not uncommon for interviewees to be nervous and your interviewer will understand.

Remember that interviewers want you to be relaxed, as this means you’ll present the best version of yourself and they’ll be able to make a more informed hiring decision.

7. Get a great night’s sleep

We all know how important sleep is when you’re trying to perform a challenging task.

If you’re well-rested, you’ll be more confident going into the interview and have more time for final preparations prior to the interview.

If you have a bad night’s sleep, you’re more likely to wake up stressed and anxious, which will then compound throughout the process.

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