How to Calm Your Nerves Before a Big Interview

Advice, Interview Tips

September 23, 2021

As an international student in the UK, you would typically begin the job hunt by identifying employers who can sponsor the Skilled Worker visa, further narrowing the search based on company, location, role, etc. 


Consider this: despite all the hurdles that international students in the UK face, you have managed to land an interview at one of your dream companies. You passed the online tests, initial phone screens, and now you have a formal callback for an interview. At this point, you would naturally start preparing to put your best foot forward. That performative aspect, in itself, can be a trigger for stress responses. But why does this happen?


Interview Anxiety has its roots in the human brain circuitry and psychology. Any time we are faced with a fight or flight situation, the body reacts by producing adrenaline. This can translate into feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, or excitement before a job interview. 


Quick tips to Manage Interview Anxiety

Sweaty palms, breathlessness, overthinking – that could be your performance anxiety talking during high-pressure and high stakes circumstances. How do you silence it? You want to reach the middle state where you are not overstressed, yet you seem excited about the opportunity. You want to activate your thinking brain and relax your emotional brain. Here are 5 tricks to cultivate this habit:


Face Your Fears

What can you do when your nerves act up a day before the interview? Sit down to conduct a thought audit. You might discover a shift in perspective by writing down your anxious thoughts. This can help you figure out if there is a specific part of the interview you’re worried about or if there’s a specific question you’re afraid to answer. 

Positive self-talk is another way of getting over irrational fears. Have a mantra: "Even if this doesn't work out, I will have other wins."


Dress the Part

Choose an outfit that not only aligns with the company culture but also reflects your personality. You can use power dressing as a tool to feel like your best self during the interview. This is in alignment with the mood enhancement theory, which states that an item of clothing can amplify positive emotions and give us a sense of control.


Use Breathing/Mindfulness Techniques

Set aside a few minutes before the interview to engage in deep breathing. Breathing in through the nose and exhaling through the mouth can slow down your heart rate, sending pacifying signals to the nervous system. Alternatively, you can try other types of mindfulness activities, including listening to inspiring instrumentals or empowering lyrics to get you motivated. 


Prepare and Practice

Be prepared for the challenges that you may encounter during the interview. Jot down a list of probable questions in advance and practice how you would answer them. Even better, check with your University’s Career Services if they have slots available for a mock interview.  Mock interviews are a great way to prepare — the careers advisor will create a realistic interview setup and provide you feedback on your answers. This way you will get expert feedback on your answers. 


These tips would work for both in-person and virtual interviews. But you'll need to pay special attention to certain aspects in each type of discussion. Body language plays a crucial role in physical setups; whereas, technology testing is paramount for online settings. 


Strike A Powerful Stance

In-person interviews place considerable emphasis on nonverbal gestures. So, focus on your body language from the time you enter the room to when you greet the interviewer and sit down to chat. A firm handshake, straight posture, and steady eye contact indicate your confidence. Leaning forward while talking demonstrates your curiosity and engagement. 


Set the Scene 

Internet connectivity, webcam functionality, and microphone settings are the basic ingredients for success in remote/video interviews. Before joining the call, ensure that your WiFi, camera quality, and audio are working properly. It would leave a much better impression if you tested your digital equipment beforehand than you fumbling to get things in order during the interview.


A call back would feel less daunting and more like an explorative journey once you have mastered the ways of calming your pre-interview jitters. Sometimes, getting a foot in the door can also prove mentally and physically taxing. Student Circus has listed formal and structured internships that you can use as a gateway to getting hired as a full-time employee.


And now that you are familiar with the best practices, apply the insight to streamline your job search and ace your next big interview! 


Written by Arushi Sharma
Arushi is a research consultant and content curator based out of New Delhi, India. Her interests span education, youth skill development, and business sustainability management. Connect with her on
LinkedIn or Twitter.
Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

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