How to Keep Your Cool Before and During an Interview


You’ve practiced your power stories, researched the company, and got your answers ready for the common interview questions.

But despite all your preparation, you are still trembling as you wait to interview.

It is a common problem. You put hours and hours of time into preparing everything you are going to say in an interview. Yet very few people actually spend time preparing themselves physiologically. This leads to the anxiety and jitters you commonly feel before an interview.

Here’s the good news about the anxiety you feel before an interview. It is an indication from your mind and body reminding you that you care deeply about getting the job. In a presentation by Career Coach Dr. Susan Bernstein, she said this about anxiety: “When you’re excited about an interview, you are masking your excitement by withholding your breath…sometimes literally.”

Here’s more good news: there are some extremely simple, holistic mind and body approaches you can take to prepare yourself before an interview.

Use these tips from Dr. Bernstein to make you feel powerful before, and during the interview.

  • Breathing. While you wait for your turn to interview, start controlling your breathing cycle. “If you can slow down your breath to 4 cycles per minute (in and out)… you can’t be nervous. Your brain and your breathing are very interconnected… and you will slow down your mental chatter and be more present” says Bernstein. The best part about this exercise is that you can do it without anybody even noticing!For those of you who enjoy yoga, you may also be aware of a practice known as left nostril breathing. The idea is that breathing through your left nostril actually has the ability to calm your body (whereas breathing through your right nostril has the ability to excite or energize you). Try putting your finger to the outside of your right nostril to close it, and breath through your left. This, however, is one practice you might not want to do in public.
  • Use the Power Pose. You may have heard about the power pose, a concept which Amy Cuddy, Associate professor at Harvard and Social Psychologist has studied in great detail. Imagine Super Man as he jumps out of a phone booth. Or perhaps an athlete who just came out on top in a competition. Or even King Kong beating his chest in a display of power. They are all fairly similar, in that they stand with legs slightly apart, chest forward, and arms stretched out from their body. It is essentially a universal display of power, as well as an internal driver of confidence. Assuming such a pose will not only open up your breathing, but also make you feel more confident.
  • Look Up. Similar to the power pose, keeping your chin up will help you enter a mental state of power. Imagine the contrary: a person who is ashamed, embarrassed, or not confident. Their head is down, arms close to body, and trying to be as small as possible. Literally looking up will help you boost your confidence.
  • Smile. See? We told you these are easy. “Smiling releases positive hormones like serotonin” says Bernstein. Even if you fake it! So loosen up in the car or train ride to your interview and smile!

Remember to use these tips before and during your interview, and you will feel more confident, powerful, and authentic than you have at any other interview!

About the Author

Greg Olsten is Ivy Exec's Sr. Content Manager, producing Online Classes, and Executive Intelligence articles.