En español | Job interviews can be stressful. Ninety-three percent of candidates get nervous beforehand, according to a 2020 survey by background-screening company JDP. While it's common to be nervous during interviews — especially if you're an older adult who hasn't applied for a new job in years — there are some things you can do before, during and, if necessary, after the interview to shake off those jitters and make a good impression.
Before the interview
Prepare and practice
Preparation can go a long way to making you less nervous, says leadership and career coach Andy Hillig, founder of Hillig Solutions, a leadership development and career coaching firm. You don't want to come across over-rehearsed, but the more you know what you're going to say, the more confident you are.
He also suggests spending some time in front of a mirror, paying attention to your responses and body language. This can help you adjust your delivery and polish your answers. If you practice with family members or friends, choose someone who will be honest with you about what you can improve, Hillig says.
Give yourself time
The last thing you want to do is feel stressed and rushed when you start the interview, so plan accordingly, says Angelina Darrisaw, founder and CEO of executive career coaching firm C-Suite Coach. If you're doing a video interview, give yourself plenty of time before and after the interview so you don't feel rushed.
If you're travelling to an in-person interview, map out your route beforehand and plan to arrive at the locations half-hour or 45 minutes early. But don't check-in at the front desk until 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. It's better to have to wait than to arrive late, which will make a bad impression and increase your stress level, Darrisaw says.
"I always like to remind people that it's perfectly acceptable to have some notes in front of you,” Hillig says. They can be invaluable if you get nervous or lose your train of thought.
During the interview
Strike a power pose
Your body language can make you feel more confident, Darrisaw says. “Both in person as well as virtually, having that strong posture for yourself is something that makes you appear more confident,” she says. “And the way our brains work, how we feel, typically, or what we do with our bodies manifests in how we actually feel in that moment.” Before you respond to a question, take a deep breath and straighten your posture, which can make you feel more powerful.
Manage your self-talk
In stressful situations, self-talk can turn negative. Remind yourself that you're there because the company thinks you're a good candidate, Darrisaw says. If you're doing a video interview and someone looks distracted or disengaged, remember that you don't know what that person is dealing with outside the video conference. Stay focused and quiet the negative chatter in your head.
Own your nerves
If you're in the interview and you're feeling very nervous, take a sip of water or a deep breath, Hillig says. Admit you're nervous and ask if you can have a moment. “Everybody understands that interviews are a bit of an unnerving time,” he says.
After the interview
If you think your nerves truly got the best of you and you think you might have blown the interview, all is not lost, Darrisaw says. If you're working with a recruiter, you can usually get a sense of whether the interviewers feel the same way and formulate a plan of action. If you're directly in touch with the company, she recommends giving it a day before you reach out. Sometimes, with a little distance you can more clearly reflect. You may realize that it wasn't that bad.
Say “thank you"
It's always a good idea to follow up with a thank-you note to your interviewers. If you feel like you want to do some repair work to the interview, this is a good time to do so, Darrisaw says. “Include a list of bullet points of the things you want them to know about you,” she says. That way, you can provide the information you may not have gotten across in the interview.
Interviews are stressful, but with some preparation and communication, you can help yourself feel more confident — and possibly improve your chances of landing the job.
Gwen Moran is a writer and author specializing in business and finance. Her work has appeared in many leading business publications and websites, including Entrepreneur, Kiplinger.com, Newsweek.com and The Los Angeles Times Magazine.