Interviews can be pretty scary. No matter how prepared you might be, that tiniest bit anxiety can come knocking at your door at any time. If you have faced a similar situation or have asked yourself “why do interviews make me so nervous?” you are in the right place!
By definition, interviews are merely structured conversations between an interviewer and an interviewee. However, we often end up viewing it as a life-or-death situation.
These thoughts are the triggers for what we call interview anxiety. Interview anxiety is the anxiety, nervousness, or even panic that you may feel before or during an interview.
To some extent, nervousness can help you focus on your preparation. But when it goes beyond a point, nervousness can make you forgetful or clumsy. You may start stuttering or say answers in a way that would not do justice to your knowledge or experience. And in the worst possible case, you may go entirely blank.
Now that is what interview anxiety may look like for many people. But it doesn’t mean that only peak nervousness affects your interview.
Even the tiniest bit of nervousness can make you say or do things that may come in the way of a satisfactory interview.
Before we try to see how you can calm yourself during the interviews, it is very important to identify the cause of your nervousness.
Reasons why Interviews make you nervous.
If you have asked yourself Why do interviews make me so nervous? Or why do I get so nervous before interviews? Here is a possible list of reasons that blocks you from effectively selling yourself in an interview:
1. You are unprepared
When you are not prepared for anything, you are bound to be nervous. The case holds true even when we talk about interviews. Not being ready for an interview, be it in terms of your answers or the outfit you plan on wearing can be very stressful especially as the interview gets closer.
So to avoid last-minute nervous breakdowns, it is always suggested to be wholly prepared at least a day before your interview.
2. Self-doubt is coming in the way
We are all aware of the fact that there are tons of people who apply for the same role we are applying for and that at times can make us doubt our abilities. We may end up bombarding our minds with thoughts like:
- I don’t have enough experience in the field
- I don’t have the relevant educational background
- I am not yet prepared for the interview
And the list goes on. Now while we can’t completely shut our minds from having these thoughts, what we can do is channel them in a way that proves beneficial to us. So that would involve practicing a lot and channeling your anxious feelings into feelings of excitement.
As strange as it may sound, your body reacts the same way when you are anxious as when you are excited. So instead of thinking that the interview is making you nervous, you can try saying that you are excited about the interview. At the end of the day, there is no harm in trying these psychological tricks.
3. You are uncomfortable being the center of attention
What is the first image that pops in your mind when you hear the word “Interview”?
Probably a finely dressed individual facing a panel? or a finely dressed individual answering the questions that are thrown at him or her by the interviewer.
More or less that is what all interviews look like.
When you go for interviews, you are going to be alone and all the attention is going to be on you. And if you find it very uncomfortable to be the center of attention then being in any of the interviews might make you nervous.
4. Meeting new people in authority can be scary
Some people are very comfortable meeting new people and might even get excited at the opportunity. But for others like us, meeting new people is not only awkward but can also make us anxious.
Interviews are similar to meeting a new group of people or even a new person, the only difference is that all these new people are more knowledgeable or experienced than you. So unknowingly you might end up pressurizing yourself to not only be confident but also have enough knowledge about your field.
5. There is tons of uncertainty
There are a lot of uncertainties when it comes to interviews which can make you nervous. For instance, It is not decipherable if you will get the job or not.
Add to that if the job description has not been very concise or if you haven’t been informed about the procedure of the interview, that might simply put fire to more anxiety-causing thoughts.
The only thing we can do in such scenarios is to try and do our best in the areas we have control over. This would include reaching the venue on time, having all the proper documents in place, and more. Once that is sorted, just remind yourself that you’ve done your level best and leave the rest to be sorted by the interviewers.
6. You don’t want to go wrong
They say first impressions are the last impressions. And Interviews are the first conversations we may have with the prospective team or company we plan on joining. So obviously who wants to go wrong?
But at times we may end up putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to not go wrong in the interview which may be the root cause of our nervousness.
Reminding ourselves that it is okay to not know everything is important in such situations. The interviewers gauge your level of understanding and knowledge based on the post you are applying for. This means that you will not be judged for not knowing a very complicated or technical question.
7. You are worried that you’ll get rejected
At times, it isn’t the process of the interviews that we are nervous about but the thought of being rejected which makes us weak in the knees. Rejecting an organization is hard but getting rejected is 10 times worse. It hurts our self-esteem and we might end up questioning our own worth.
Now one thing that we can do here is to understand that when a team or company rejects you, it might be because of factors that are outside of your control, like another candidate with more experience. So instead of taking rejections personally, we can choose to see them as an experience that we can learn from.
This alternative thought might help you in keeping your interview anxiety in check.
8. You really really want the role
Now let’s say you have applied to your dream company or you have applied to a company because you are desperately in need of a job; in both cases, the job becomes very important for you. Because of this do-or-die situation, the interview might end up making you very nervous.
In such cases again, we suggest you let go of the things that are not in your control. All you can do is give your level best to the interview and leave the rest to the team or the company.
9. There are technological glitches
The last thing that can make anyone nervous, especially in online interviews is facing technical glitches. It could be that your internet suddenly stops working or you are not able to navigate through their app or it could be anything else.
What we can do is we can check all our devices before entering the online meeting room. Try and check the basics like your microphone, and your camera, and make sure to charge your devices to not face such issues during the interview.
And if you have indeed done your initial check but still face any technical issues, take a breather. The interviewers surely understand that such problems can arise at any time. You can be assured that these glitches would not come in your way.
While we have now gained a thorough understanding of some of the possible reasons we might feel nervous before an interview, there is another question that we are yet to answer.
Is it bad to be nervous during an interview?
Being nervous in an interview is quite common. But when the nervousness reaches extreme ends then there might be an issue.
Being too nervous or too confident is not something that the interviewers would perceive in a very good light.
If in the interviews, you are so nervous that you are sweating, fidgeting, your voice is breaking, or are blanking out, the interviewers might not see you as fit for the role especially if the role calls for working in high-pressure situations.
On the other end, if you are too confident that you end up challenging the interviewers, that might be seen as a sign of arrogance which again is not something any team is willing to sign up for.
Here finding the right balance is extremely important.
Is it ok to admit that you are nervous in an interview?
In interviews, admitting that you are nervous can both work in your favor as well as cost you your job or role. It all depends on how the interviewer perceives your nervousness.
While some interviewers might see vocalizing your nervousness as a sign that you are genuinely interested in the job and honest about things, others might find it difficult to picture you in a high-pressure role.
Although you can take the chance of saying in the interviews that you are nervous, it is always advisable to be fully prepared from your end to minimize your nervousness as much as possible. And if you still end up being nervous during the interview, feel free to either ask them for a minute to gather yourself or consider vocalizing your nervousness.
This brings us to a very important question.
What should you never say in an interview?
While you might never know where you are going wrong during the interview, here are a couple of things that you can keep a check on to avoid the chances of being filtered out in the early stages of the interview.
5 things you should never say during a job interview
1. The “Urms” and “Uhs”
Using a lot of filler words or “urms” and “uhs” during interviews shows your lack of preparation or confidence in your answers, both of which we would want to avoid at all possible costs.
2. “I don’t know”
While admitting that you might not be aware of some very narrow questions is fine, saying “I don’t know” to very basic questions may hinder your chances of getting through the interview.
Avoid saying I don’t know especially when it comes to questions that are related to the company or the people interviewing you. So for instance, if you are asked about the recent big achievement of the company, saying “I don’t know” will show your lack of research which can easily be interpreted as your lack of interest to be a part of the company.
You can instead say something like “I am aware of the fact that the company has been reaching new peaks with every passing day and constantly setting new benchmarks for itself which is what motivated me to contribute to such a fast growing team. However, I might have missed out on that specific information you shared but would surely check it out post our conversation.”
3. Badmouthing your previous company
No matter how annoyed you might be with your previous employers, avoid badmouthing them at all costs.
Badmouthing your previous job or boss or even your team would be your free ticket to rejection because no company would want an employee who goes and talks things about their company to others.
4. Using slang words
Using slang words can be seen as unprofessional behavior on your end so you might want to avoid it at all costs. While slang can be a great way to express what you truly feel, the interview just may not be the right place for it.
Now that we have all the background information in place, let’s take a look into some of the ways you can try to not be nervous before and during the interview.
How to be less nervous before an interview
1. Do your research
As soon as you apply to a company, college or role, make sure to research the role and the organization.
If it is a job interview, make sure to go through the job description very well. Try to see how your resume fits perfectly with this description. Also, make sure to check the company website as you’ll find almost all the information about the company and its services there. You can also run a basic google search about the company to get an idea about the recent achievements or news articles dedicated to them. Gathering all this information and fitting it into your answers may help you stand out.
If you are interviewing for a college, follow the same steps and try to understand the course that you’ll be applying for. Try to find at least one point through your research that would help you answer why you are interested in joining that particular course of the university.
2. Be thorough with your resume
While this advice might seem bizarre, it is still very important to be thorough with your resume. Make sure you have enough talking points for everything you have mentioned there. Also, avoid manipulating any information on your resume as if identified, it might straight away put you in the black books of the company.
You can also go through the resume and try to figure out areas where the interviewer may ask you questions and prepare accordingly.
3. Prepare answers to common questions
We are all aware that every interview would begin with a question like “Tell me about yourself.” Preparing for such predictable questions will put us at ease when the same questions are asked during the interview.
A list of common questions you can prepare for:
- Tell me about your strengths
- Can you walk me through your resume
- What are some of your weaknesses
- Why do you want to join the company?
- Why should we hire you?
Check out a list of more commonly asked interview questions here.
4. Plan your outfit in advance
Outfits are very important. The interviewer would form an initial opinion of you based on the way you walk into the room, the way you are dressed, and the way you meet others before the interview. So always be prepared with your outfit.
5. Practice your interviews
Try practicing answers to the common questions. We suggest you make pointers that you plan on saying rather than the entire script for the answers and practice your delivery before the interview. And if the interview is online, you can take try to log into the platform and try to practice for the interview there. This will not only help you with your answers but also help you get better equipped with the software.
To know about more such quick tips that can help you not appear nervous, check out our video below:
How do I stop myself from being nervous in an interview
Let’s say you are in the interview room with the panel or the interviewer and all of a sudden you feel a wave of nervousness coming your way. Here is what you can try to do when you feel nervous during an interview:
1. Acknowledge your nervousness
The very first thing you should do is acknowledge that you are indeed nervous. Then remind yourself that it is okay to be nervous in any unfamiliar situation and interviews happen to be one of them!
2. Avoid speaking quickly
Often when we are nervous, we might start speaking at a very fast pace. We might lose track of our speed which may make it challenging for others to grasp what we are trying to say. So it is advisable to consciously take control of your pace of speaking.
Check out our video below to see how you can practice speaking slowly and clearly.
3. Make sure you have your body language in check
When we are nervous we might fidget with our fingers or move in the chair. Our legs might be shaking or we may be bringing our hands to our faces every now and then.
All of these are clear signs of nervousness and the interviewer would be aware of them. While we understand that you might not have an idea about your body language during the interview, it is still suggested to check in on your gestures and switch to more confident body language like sitting up straight.
4. Take a minute to gather your thoughts
If nothing works out for you, it is okay to take a minute to gather your thoughts. Remind yourself that this is just another interview or rather a conversation.
You can also see it as a two-sided interview where not only are you being assessed for the job, but even you are assessing the interviewers and trying to understand if the company or college is the right fit for you.
Interviews are one of the most crucial parts of one’s life. Right from school or university interviews to job interviews, they are here to stay. And so is the nervousness that comes with interviews.
There are tons of reasons that can make anyone nervous in interviews. Fear of being rejected, self-doubt, being put in the spotlight, lack of preparation, and many more reasons may come in the way of a satisfactory interview from your end.
To avoid getting nervous during the interview, you can try to research the organization or role. Thoroughly go through your resume and try to prepare yourself for some of the most commonly asked questions. Try practicing the answers before you go for the interview.
Lastly, remember that it is just a conversation where you are assessing if the organization is the right fit for you!