Interviewing for a new job can be an anxiety-provoking experience, but there are ways you can calm your nerves, develop confidence, and nail the interview. Before your interview, research all you can about the company and have several answers prepared. Right before, take some deep breaths and do a power pose. Remember, you made it this far for a reason.
Here are 35 tips from licensed therapists and HR professionals to help you overcome interview anxiety:
1. Prepare With Mirror Work
“Stand in front of a mirror at home and talk to your reflection as if you’re in the interview responding to potential questions. Be aware of body language, eye contact, and rate/tone of voice. This helps to build self-confidence for the interview, communicate clearly, and helps to decrease anxiety. My clients who use this technique sometimes say they feel silly or awkward the first time they do it, but after practicing it they tell me how effective it can be.” – Insha Rahman, LCSW
2. Research All You Can About the Company
“Don’t just read about the company profile. Read about their values, their mission statement, their aspirations, their corporate social responsibility programs etc. By doing that, you can relate your answers to the values that are being highlighted in the company activities. If you know your interviewer’s name, try to look them up on Linkedin. Check their job description and try to incorporate their action words in their job description in your answers.” – Joe Wilson, Senior Employment Advisor at MintResume
3. Do a Complete Dress Rehearsal
“The week before the interview, it’s time to figure out the details. What will you wear? Try it on, make sure you’re comfortable. Figure out your transportation. How will you get to the interview? If you’re taking public transportation, do a dry run. Go to the train or bus station, figure out how crowded it is, which line is better, or which platform you need. If you’re driving yourself, let’s go for a drive! Drive it at the same time you plan to next week. Time how long it takes you to drive there. Find your parking, work out the kinks of your trip.” – Niki Yarnot, MSW, LASW, career coach at Wanderlust Careers
4. Talk to Yourself Like You Would to a Friend
“Feeling nervous or worried before a job interview is completely normal and to be expected. It’s a high-stress situation, and you want to do your best. Take a deep breath. What would you say to a friend in a similar situation? What’s stopping you from saying and believing those things about yourself? How can you channel your nervous energy/ anxiety into preparedness? Focus on the things that are within your control and practice and rehearse thoughts that you believe about yourself and the job, like, ‘I am highly qualified for this position,’ or ‘I am prepared to do my best in this interview.’” – Tricia Johnson, LCSW
5. Normalize the Anxiety
“Part of the reason people may struggle with anxiety before an interview isn’t necessarily because anxiety is present, but rather it’s because they’re fighting with anxiety. One way to stop fighting with anxiety is to “normalize” it, which means to understand and appreciate why anxiety has a reason to be here. There is nothing wrong about feeling anxious before an interview. We tend to feel anxious about things we care about a lot. If you care a lot about your pet dog, you would likely feel anxious about losing your dog. If you care a lot about your favorite baseball team winning the World Series, you would likely feel anxious about your team losing. If we care a lot about a job, then it’s normal to feel anxious.
Even confident people will still feel anxious about a job that they really care about. The more you care, the more anxious you feel. The anxiety is not there to ruin your life—it is there to remind you about what is most important to you.” – Dr. Brian Yu, Ph.D., CMPC, Sport-Performance Psychologist and owner of Prevail Performance Counseling PLLC
6. Role-Play the Interview
“Discussing stressful situations is a form of exposure, which can build stress tolerance over time. Prepare for interviews by role-playing with people you trust. After the mock interview, consider your strengths and where you can improve. Also notice how you felt during different points of the interview. Ask for feedback. It is possible that your nervousness is less apparent than you think. Practice monitoring your tone, body language, and eye contact.
Prepare yourself for discomfort (for example, when you don’t know an answer to a question) by using silence to your advantage. Take a breath. You can show confidence during silence by saying ‘That is an important question. I need a moment to consider it.’ Discuss possibilities with your friend—what is the worst that could happen during the interview, and what can you do to help yourself through it? What is the best that could happen, and how will you know?” – Kaley Greear Goncalves, Licensed Professional Counselor at Your Family Psychiatrist
7. Think of Your Interviewer as a Friendly Puppy
“One less conventional way to stay calm during a job interview that many of my clients find helpful is to imagine that your interviewer is a friendly puppy. Puppies are always happy and excited to meet new people, so by picturing your interviewer in this way, you can subconsciously put yourself at ease.” – Miriam Geiger, LMFT
8. Visualize Success
“When we have anxiety we are thinking about the ‘worst case scenario.’ To help reduce anxiety for a job interview write down and acknowledge all the ways you will be successful in the interview process. Also, remember, if you have the interview then your future employer already likes something about you.” – Sasha Jackson, MSW, LCSW
9. Utilize Encouraging Self-Talk
“When you’re going for a job interview, it can be anxiety inducing. This is where encouraging self-talk – a needed skill in life – comes in handy. Let’s say you’re nervous for a job interview because it’s been awhile since you’ve interviewed and you feel a little rusty. In addition to practicing in front of the mirror and doing a mock interview with a friend or family member, you can include internal dialogue to yourself anytime the anxiety comes up by using this script:
‘I’m having some anxiety come up about my interview because I want to do well AND that is totally understandable. It lets me know that this is important to me. Regardless of how I do, this is good practice and I’ll be less rusty afterwards.’
Being too anxious takes away from your authentic self showing up in the interview. You’ve got to be your hype person! You can do this! Review any material they may give to you and remember to breathe during the interview. If you have time at the end, asking a few questions that show interest in the company can help you to be a standout candidate.” – Talia Bombola, Certified Psychodynamic LMFT
10. Find Your Power Song
“Think like an athlete, and create a playlist of songs to help you find focus and inspiration. Though you aren’t getting ready to run in a race or outsmart competitors on the field, interviews require the same kind of confident focus. What songs help you to channel your anxiety into a more productive kind of energy? Try several during your practice sessions, favoriting the best ones for the big day.” – Dr. Jenn Hardy, PhD
11. Prepare Specific Responses
“Many companies use frameworks like targeted selection, where they want a specific example of a situation, your action, and the outcomes pertaining to things like dealing with opposition in the workplace, handling projects, or dealing with miscommunication. Prepare your responses to those potential questions.” – Robert Hinojosa, LCSW
12. Be Yourself
“You might think that you need to look and act a certain way to get hired. Keeping up appearances will only get you so far, especially since your ‘real self’ will come out eventually whether you want it to or not. Better that you come across as sincere since that is most likely to impress an interviewer.” – Romeo Vitelli Ph.D., psychologist and consultant for Mom Loves Best
13. Start Giving Yourself Pep Talks Early
“A pep talk addressed to yourself seemed helpful for me when I had my own job interview. It helped me clear out my anxiety days before my interview. Try to calm your nerves to avoid coming in with a clouded mind. Feeling confident will calm your nerves and in return, you can answer their questions properly and overall improve your performance. You can also show up wearing your best corporate attire. Looking good can boost your confidence. Dress for success, as some might say.” – William Taylor, Senior Recruitment Advisor at VelvetJobs
14. Think About What You Have to Offer the Company
“Write some bullet points of what you would contribute. Consider how you can show those points in the interview. Think of the interview not as a test or as a forum designed to trip you up or put you on the spot, or as a fake self-presentation. Instead, think of it as you and the interviewer having a conversation to figure out if you joining the company would be mutually beneficial. That way you’ll see the interview process more collaboratively and won’t feel as much performance pressure.” – Alice Boyes, PhD, author of The Anxiety Toolkit
15. Do a Power Pose
“One of the best things to do to combat interview anxiety is the ‘super-person pose.’ Spend a few minutes in the mirror posing like a superhero; just taking this stance exudes confidence and can release endorphins. Coupling this exercise with affirmations such as, ‘I am qualified, I am an asset, I am going to wow them!’ Can have a powerful impact.” – Sonia Martin, LCSW
16. Interrupt Negative & “What If” thoughts
“Negative thoughts can be very convincing, but are not helpful. When you notice them creeping in, you must interrupt them as quickly as possible and replace them with something positive and helpful. This can be a positive mantra, like ‘I am capable,’ or even singing and dancing. It is important to replace this negative thinking with another thought or activity, because it will decrease the opportunity for those thoughts to come back.” – Janice R. Miles, LMFT
17. Dress as If You Were Going to Work at the Job You Want
“A full suit and tie may not be necessary, but business casual, along with an appearance of being well-groomed, is always a good idea.” – Romeo Vitelli Ph.D., psychologist and consultant for Mom Loves Best
18. Take Action for What You Can Control
“It is normal to feel anxious before a job interview. Action is a powerful antidote to the fear that often accompanies interviewing for jobs. Focus on taking action in those areas of the job interview process you can control. For example, you may find it helpful to practice your elevator pitch with a trusted friend, family member, or career coach.
Additionally, carve out time to calm your nerves immediately before the interview. Spend a few minutes meditating and visualizing yourself succeeding in the interview. Throughout the interview, take a breath after each sentence. This will not only help you stay calm and centered but also allow the recruiter to take adequate notes and interject with any questions that arise.” – Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES, Career & Interview Coach
19. Rationalize Your Fears and Your Perspective
“Most of the time, your perception of the interview process and its outcome is what’s causing you to be anxious. So as much as possible, before the interview, remind yourself that you wouldn’t have been invited by the employer if you were not fit for the role. Remember that the company is already considering you as someone eligible for the position.” – Sam Nabil, LPC, CEO & Lead Therapist of Naya Clinics
20. Remember Your Value
“When we’re anxious about an interview, it is often because we’re anticipating the intense scrutiny and pressure of being judged. It is helpful to remember that an interview is not just about employers figuring out a candidate—it’s also a chance for a candidate to discern if a company is worth working for. As a candidate at an interview, you’ve already earned some degree of recognition within your field.
Remember that you are a valuable asset to any employer, and the interview is also their chance to convince you that you want to work for them. Tapping into this can help ease some of the stress of performance on us, and help us to overcome our anxiety.” – Tina Hawk, SVP Human Resources at GoodHire
21. Have a “Cheat Sheet” of Positive Thoughts
“Taking control of your thoughts can help with job interviewing anxiety. Our thoughts can create our feelings and by choosing to focus on more positive thoughts, we can shift our emotions.
For example, say your fear is, ‘I’m not going to know what to say.’ You could address that by saying to yourself, ‘I’ve practiced my responses to different types of interview questions and am prepared to ask a few good questions.’ In this way, you’re challenging your anxious thoughts with evidence to the contrary. To reduce your anxiety, create a cheat sheet of positive thoughts to keep in mind whenever negative thoughts pop in your mind by jotting down your fears along with a few helpful coping statements.” – Dorlee Michaeli, MBA, LCSW
22. Jump in Feet First
“When it comes to job interviews and the anxiety that accompanies them, the first thing to understand is that virtually all applicants experience some apprehension in anticipation of job interviews. You shouldn’t feel like you’re alone in what it is that you’re going through. You don’t have to be anxious or afraid of your next interview. The simple reason is that the question of whether the interview will be successful is largely decided before the interview even begins. It is the aspects that are already completed—such as your education, experience, and skills—long before the interview that comprise the majority of the factors your prospective boss will consider when deciding whether or not to hire you.
Often, with impressive resumes, the interview is just a formality; the boss is already strongly considering hiring you. So, the key in job interviews is to do your best to make yourself the most outstanding candidate you can be, not so much how well you manage to answer the questions or ingratiate yourself with other people.” – Ellie Borden, BA, RP, CPP, Clinical Director of Mind By Design
23. Think About Managing Anxiety, Rather Than Trying to Eliminate It
“When we recognize that anxiety is a natural reaction to a stressful situation, like an interview, then the experience no longer seems as out-of-control. To manage anxiety reactions in your body, focus on taking slow, abdominal breaths, and recognize that the feelings may be uncomfortable but they are not dangerous (some arousal before an important event is even adaptive). To manage anxious thoughts, consider the situation as a challenge, rather than an insurmountable threat. Together, these approaches can normalize the experience of anxiety and make it feel less catastrophic.” – Bethany A. Teachman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia
24. Take 5 Minutes to Breathe
“I suggest doing an abdominal breathing exercise, where you focus on inhalations and exhalations: Breathe in slowly through the nostrils, hold it in, and then exhale slowly. Do this between 5-10 times in a row. This helps to oxygenate the blood and helps the person decrease anxiety/nerves and think more clearly. I suggest doing this exercise for at least a few days leading up to the interview, and definitely the morning of the interview.” – Insha Rahman, LCSW
25. Use a Mantra
“When interview anxiety arises, It is important to validate feelings and say to yourself, ‘Of course this is scary, I really want this job!’ Picking a go-to mantra (one to use repeatedly) and incorporating a mindfulness skill in the moment can be helpful. When anxiety arises, my mantra might be, ‘You got this’ and then a breathing exercise (such as counting to four as you inhale, holding the breath for a few seconds and then counting to four as you exhale) may be helpful for the purpose of managing the anxiety and bringing myself back to the present.” – Adria Hagg, LCSW
26. Remind Yourself: I’m Helping THEM!
“If you feel anxious before an interview, change your perspective about the interview to, ‘I am helping them by showing up present, curious and with my unique perspective.’ Interviewers need your help, so be a helper! You’ll stand out among the applicants because when we are helping, we are engaged and more upbeat in our presentation.
Tell yourself, ‘They don’t want to have to work hard to get me to open up. Instead, I’ll show up like I would a friend who wants some help from me. Open, present, curious and with my unique perspective ready to be shared.’ This keeps your focus on them and not on you, and keeps anxious thoughts of ‘I hope they like me’ at bay.” – Celeste Labadie, LMFT
27. Do a Grounding Exercise
“I love using a grounding technique using our 5 senses. It helps to turn off the brain from anxious unwanted thoughts and be present in the moment. First position yourself in a comfortable position, then take 3 deep breaths. After that you’ll start to say 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. This is a very easy technique that can be practiced from anywhere and it’s so helpful in reducing anxiety.” – Edelys Diaz, LMFT
28. Take a Moment to Smile
“Here’s the thing about smiles: they actually help us feel better. Studies actually have found that even using the facial muscles needed for smiling (by holding a pencil between the teeth) can imitate happiness and lead to more positive experiences overall. And, when we smile, we also reduce stress.
Go find some funny videos on YouTube or somewhere. Listen to your favorite comedian on your way to the interview or as you prepare. That happiness will carry you into the opening parts of the interview and can set the stage for an enjoyable conversation. The best part is, many interviewers make their decisions in the first few minutes or even seconds of meeting a person. So if you are carrying that happiness with you-even if it’s not for the interview itself-it will be felt.” – Kali Wolken, LMHC, LPC, CCC, Career and Mental Health Counselor at The Lookout Point, LLC
29. Build Rapport
“That includes looking the interviewer straight in the eye and shaking their hand. Make sure your body language doesn’t undermine the impression you are trying to convey. That means sitting up straight and staying as pleasant as possible throughout the interview. Granted, these are all subtle cues, but the interviewer will definitely pick up on them.” – Romeo Vitelli Ph.D., psychologist and consultant for Mom Loves Best
30. Remember You’re Interviewing Them, Too
“One actionable tip that an interviewee can use is adopting the belief that the company also has to impress them, as finding the right fit in a new position is a two-way street. When the interviewee is exclusively focused on only the impression they need to make, rather than having the viewpoint of this being a potentially mutual endeavor, this can fuel anxiety because the ‘stakes’ become higher in your mind.” – Rick Snyderman, M.Ed., LPC, CADC, CSAT, NCC
31. Focus on Being the Solution to Their Problem
“So many of us get anxious when interviewing for a job. It can feel like a lot of pressure, hopes are high, and the fear of failure can be high too. Instead of focusing on all the things that could go wrong and the fear of not getting the job, try reframing your thoughts from a different perspective. What do you think the job interviewer is hoping for? Do you think they want you to fail so they aren’t able to fill the position and have to take time out of their schedule to continue interviewing candidates? Or do you think they’re hoping that you’ll be qualified for the position and want to join the company?
By using a statement to focus on, such as “I’m going to be the solution to their problem,” you can remind yourself that they actually want you to be a candidate they can hire. They have a problem (a current job opening) and they’ve set time aside to meet with you because they think you are the solution (a great candidate they can hire). Imagine the person interviewing you wants you to succeed – really imagine going to the interview and it going well. This tip is using both affirmations and guided imagery to support you in lowering your anxiety and increasing your self confidence during your next job interview. – Stephanie Gilbert, LMFT, BICBT-CC
32. Wait a Moment Before Answering Questions
“Don’t feel obligated to answer questions immediately. Give yourself a chance to collect your thoughts first. Think about whether you have enough information to answer the question. If not, don’t answer right away. Wait until you’ve gathered the necessary facts. By pausing, you’ll avoid giving misleading answers and appearing unprepared.” – Colleen Wenner, LMHC MCAP LPC, Founder & Clinical Director of New Heights Counseling & Consulting, LLC
33. Change Your Perspective
“I have had many jobs and interviews in my lifetime. One thing I have learned is that I am looking for a good fit in the jobs I choose. I don’t go into the interview assuming they are just evaluating me, but I am also looking for red flags and interviewing them. I am very polite but inside I am looking for a great match. Taking on this attitude really calms the anxiety for me. I let go of the outcome and the idea that ‘this is the only job I want,’ and take on an attitude of, ‘lets see if this is a good fit.’ By changing your perspective to this is an interview for the company as well and not being attached to the outcome, it really helps with confidence and to find the right job, not just a job.” – Dian Grier, LCSW
34. Utilize a Career Coach or a Hypnotherapist
“A professional career coach is a great resource to better prepare for the interview process. They can give you insights into what the hiring manager is looking for and help you prepare your elevator pitch, responding to the dreaded ‘tell me about yourself’ question. If more preparation still doesn’t calm your job interview anxiety then you should consider hypnosis. Hypnosis is highly effective in addressing anxiety and changing how you perceive the job interview process. The hypnotherapist can assist with developing healthier strategies to plan for the interview. It’s a powerful method in overcoming anxiety in general and something to consider if you have significant job interview anxiety.” – Mervat Elschwarby, Lead Career Consultant at NYC Resume, Interview & Online Prep
35. Think of It as One Step Closer
“The reality is, it is totally normal to have anxiety prior to an interview, so expect to have anxiety on some level and identify how the ‘Ideal You’ would like to present during the interview. Confidence stems from competence, so spending some time researching the company and potential questions is crucial. Interview anxiety can be regulated through consciously slowing the breath, and reframing critical self-talk to be optimistic, realistic and actionable—remember the forward action you are taking and the steps you have already taken to make it to the interview. You are pushing yourself to a better future and you will either succeed this time or get one step closer to nailing it in your next interview.” – Nicole Kleiman-Reck, LMHC