The hard part is done: you landed an interview. You should be elated, excited for the chance to show them how truly incredible you are.

Why, then, do your palms feel like the Sahara? And your stomach like it’s finally reached your frontal lobe?

It’s common to feel stress like this leading up to an interview. It is, after all, a chance for a new start and a next step on your career path. But discouraging yourself with thoughts of every wrong thing you’ve done in your work or with the thoughts of every inarticulate moment you may have had in past interviews will only leave you feeling melancholy about your upcoming meeting.

Instead, try to focus on the things that you can control in the interview process. Try imitating these tips to help you feel calmer, more confident, and ready to wow:


Leading Up To the Interview

  • Do your research. Nothing can calm your nerves more than being comfortable in the subject matter. Reread the job description. Go to the company’s website. Learn as much as you can about their philosophy, history, and current practices. Be sure to keep your research organized and revisit it several times before the interview.
  • Practice answering interview questions. This may seem like a silly, grade-school idea, but going through potential interview questions with someone you trust will help you feel more prepared for the real deal. Be sure to give complete answers in your mock-interview, and try not to skip over any questions that may leave you stumped. Those are the ones to nail down in practice.
  • Know your personality. Believe it or not, your personality type can have a big impact on your job search, and knowing yourself well gives you an edge. Being aware of your personality traits gives you the power to effectively play up your strengths, work around your weaknesses, and show how you can be an asset to the company.
  • Prepare questions to ask. Show interest in the company by asking questions to clarify how the job fits into the overall health of the organization. Find out why the position is open, when they expect to have it filled, and what the best part of working for the company would be. Laura McMullen, from U.S. News and World Report, wrote an excellent article about the best questions to ask a potential employer.
  • Get plenty of sleep. It’s hard enough to think on a regular, day to day basis. Add in the pressure of speaking to several people about how great you are, and your mind may just turn to mush. Sleeping, however, for a full 7 to 9 hours at night can help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the questioning.

The Day of the Interview

  • Wake up early. Many people going through the interview process tend to scare themselves into a restless stupor when they go to bed for fear that they’ll get up late. Avoid that potentially terrible scenario by waking up early and beginning your routine as you normally would.
  • Eat a small, but healthy, breakfast. Though you may not feel like eating, it’s essential that you have a healthy breakfast the day of the interview. Try a wholegrain cereal, or Greek yogurt with granola. Protein will keep you energized longer, ensuring that you don’t sit through an interview thinking solely about your grumbling stomach.
  • Dress the part. Feeling confident in the way you look will go far in helping portray that you are also confident in your abilities. Go through your closet and look for appropriate attire for the work setting. If you aren’t sure what’s appropriate, take a look at this article from Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes.
  • Once you’ve found an outfit and accessories that make you feel like your best, remember to put on your most important accessory: a smile. Smiling can actually “force” you to be happier and will make you feel less stressed. For all of the benefits of smiling, look at this article by Jennifer Smith at Lifehack.
  • Map out your route and leave early. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting at a red light, waiting to quickly get to your interview. The fear that the clock will run out and leave you jobless due to tardiness can no longer consume you. Set an alarm or two and make sure you leave enough time in the morning to get all of the last minute details squared away.
  • Bring water. When you’re talking a lot and nervous, your mouth may get a little dry and leave you clamoring for a drink. Avoid the necessity of diving into the fish tank by bringing your own bottle of water to alleviate parched lips.
  • Get Pumped Up. Listen to music that inspires you on your way to the interview to take your mind off your anxiety and get you pumped up to rock your interview.
  • Envision success. This may seem silly, but it can actually work. Imagine your interview going successfully. Think about how you would ideally speak, react, laugh. Take those images and play them over and over until you start to gain the confidence of your “dream” self. You’ll be surprised at how much more ready you’ll feel when the time actually comes.

During the Interview

  • Remember the interview is a reciprocal relationship. Not everything in the interview needs to be about how you would suit the company. It should, in fact, be a conversation that leads you to understand just how the company would suit you. You don’t want to work somewhere that isn’t a good fit.
  • Slow down when you’re speaking. It can be hard, sometimes, to concentrate when you’re feeling pressured. Give yourself time to think by speaking slowly. Take pauses when appropriate.
  • Breathe deeply. Taking deep breaths will help calm and relax your nerves, allowing you to focus on where you are and who you’re with. Remember that you’re primarily going to be talking about yourself. That fact should calm you, as what subject matter do you know better than yourself?
  • Take Notes. Keep your hands from shuffling underneath the table by bringing a notepad and pen to keep them occupied. Use it to take notes for questions to ask at the end and for your thank you note or the next interview.
  • Know that this isn’t the end of the world. It’s easy to get worked up about an interview, but realize that this isn’t the only option you have. Even if you don’t land this particular job, there is always going to be something else for you to try out.


Going through the job interview process doesn’t have to be horrible. Try these few tips, and you’ll be sure to wow the crowd with your smiles and understanding.  Remember: Think positively. You can do this!

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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