First things first, it’s completely normal to feel nervous at a job interview. Most hiring managers won’t mark you down for this and it can even show that really care about getting the job.

A little bit of nervousness can even help you focus and stay alert in an interview. Problems arise if a little nervousness snowballs into a lot and your performance starts to go downhill.

Ever forgotten the question halfway through answering it? It could be a sign your nerves got the better of you.

Other giveaways include fidgeting, blurting things out or even talking too much.

Not to worry, read on to learn more about nervousness and how you can keep it under control.

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a man sitting in an interview, he look nervous as he sits and listen to the hiring manager.

What is nervousness?

Nervousness is part of your body’s natural response to a stressful event or threat.  

When your body detects a possible threat, your heart and breathing rates start to rise. Hormones like cortisol and adrenaline levels start to increase and your blood pressure rises.

It’s not all bad, if you can get your nerves under control that boost of adrenaline can actually help you in a job interview. It gives you more energy and helps you focus and stay alert.

When the stressful event or threat is over, your heart rate and cortisol levels should return to normal. The feeling of nervousness should also pass.

Tips for managing your nerves at interviews

  1. Plan ahead

One of the best ways to keep your nerves under control is to make sure you have everything planned before the day.

Work out how you’re going to get to and from the interview and get all your supplies together in advance. Not sure what to wear? Read what do I wear to a job interview for tips.

  1. Do a test run of your route

Drive the route you need to take or try out the public transport to the interview location before the big day. This will make sure there’s no surprises on the day.  

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There are wooden blocks on the screen, they spell the word CALM

     3. Do your research

If you know the names of the people on the interview panel, it doesn’t hurt to do some research beforehand. LinkedIn is the best place to look for people. It might be a bit weird to try and find their Facebook or other personal social media accounts.

It’s also a good idea to learn about the organisation, their values and projects they’re working on.

     4. Practice, practice, practice

It’s always a good idea to practice answers to interview questions before the big day. This should help to make you feel more confident and less nervous in the lead up to the interview.

To get an idea of the common questions employers might ask, watch our Interview Practice video. We also have job specific interview practice videos featuring real employers asking real questions.

     5. Take care of yourself

It’s important to make sure you get enough sleep and don’t have any big nights out in the week before the interview. This will help you to perform at your best on the day.

     6. Arrive early

Always plan to arrive at least 15 mins early in case you have any delays with your transport. Getting there early gives you a chance to settle in and do one last mirror check. Running late to an interview will not only give the hiring manager a poor impression but will also likely make you even more nervous.

     7. Control your breathing

When we feel nervous, our breathing generally becomes faster and shallower. Try taking a slow deep breath through your nose and letting it fill your lungs and then slowly breathing out through your mouth. Repeat this a few times to help you feel calm. You can read about other relaxation techniques for stress relief at healthdirect Australia.  

     8. Be kind to yourself

If you find yourself saying negative comments to yourself, it’s only likely to make you more nervous. Try to remember that the hiring manager would not have asked you to interview if they didn’t think you could do the job. You could also try focusing on observing your surroundings to take your mind off your inner critic.  

When to get help

If you feel nervous a lot of the time and not just before job interviews or other stressful events, it could be time to get support.

Nervousness can be a symptom of an anxiety disorder. If you think your nervousness is having an ongoing negative impact on your daily life, it’s best to see your GP. They can refer you to a mental health professional or other support services.

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A woman holding her head with her hand on her temples. There are 100s of lines crazy lines coming from her head. She looks like she is in pain.