Dealing with those Dreaded Interview Nerves


Experiencing nerves about a job interview is normal.

The majority of my interview coaching clients will display some form of nerves when I put them in a practice interview situation.

In this article, I will explain why it’s important to control your nerves and how to go about it.

The Importance of Controlling Your Nerves

If anyone claims not to suffer from pre-interview nerves I always take it with a pinch of salt. I doubt whether they want the job enough.

Having interview nerves is actually good news. It gets the adrenaline going and makes you ready and sharp for your interview performance.

That said, it’s important to know how to control your nerves so they don’t overwhelm you and affect the account you give of yourself.

How to Get Those Nerves Under Control

There are some steps you can take to tame your nerves.

Reflect on Your Achievement

The first step on this road is to reflect on the achievement of getting invited to interview. It means the employer has decided they would employ you based on what they have read in your written application.

Recruiters do not invite candidates to interview if there is something in their written application that would prevent them from offering them the job. My interview coaching clients are often surprised when I tell them that.

A lot of time, effort and money go into the interview process and the employer would not waste this on you if you didn’t make the grade.

Remember, you have already beaten many candidates who applied for this job but who weren’t invited to interview like you have been. This fact alone should give you more confidence.


One of the most effective things you can do to calm your nerves is thorough preparation.

As well as reviewing your CV or application form, it’s important to research the organisation and plan some answers and examples.

It is critical that you research the organisation and get clear on your specific reasons for wanting to work there. It is also important to know about the work they do and what the plans are for the business going forward.

Specifically, consider which skills and attributes they are looking for in the successful candidate. You can learn this from the job and person specifications, as well as via more thorough wider research.

Think of and prepare examples of times when you have demonstrated those sought-after skills and attributes.

As part of your preparation, I recommend you watch this 2 minute video about controlling your nerves:


Once you have done some preparation, find someone to put you through a practice interview. Not only will you get to road test your answers, you will also be able to practice the following:

  • Body language – your non-verbal communication has a significant influence on the outcome. It accounts for 60% of how we communicate.
  • Your speed – when we are nervous we usually speak more quickly. It’s important to be aware of this and slow yourself down when you notice you have speeded up. Try taking a deep breath or grab a sip of water. Slowing things down makes you appear more confident.
  • Your tendencies – you may overuse a turn of phrase or have lots of ums and ahs slipping in. Pick these up in your practice so you can guard against them in the interview proper.

On the Day

Always arrive at the interview location with at least 10 minutes or so to spare.

What you do during this time can make or break your interview. Be sure to use the bathroom and keep an eye on your breathing. Slow it down, take deeper breaths rather than shallow nervous breaths.

In the interview itself, remember that most interviewers want you to do well. On the whole, they hope to give you the platform to show them your best. It’s rare they are trying to trip you up and make you fail.

The final thing to remember is always to be yourself. The more you think you have to be someone else, the less confidence you will have and the more the nerves will kick in.

You Have Every Right to Feel Confident

I’ll say it again…

The fact the employer has invited you to an interview means they would employ you based on the information in your written application. That is a resounding endorsement and one that should give you a great deal of confidence.

And remember, it’s ok to have some interview nerves, everyone does!

Feel the Fear, and Do it Anyway”

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Matt Oliver

Matt is the founder of Law Career Plus and a former in-house lawyer (Sky Sports, London & Foxtel, Sydney). With over 12 years of experience as a career consultant & executive coach, he supports lawyers with their career development & career transitions. He does this through this website, a regular email newsletter and his one to one lawyer career coaching.

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