Can Nerves Ruin a Job Interview?

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February 4, 2020
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min read

One of the most nerve-wracking experiences can be a job interview. It doesn't matter how much you prepare when it comes time to answer questions, you probably get nervous anyway. Fear not!

The people conducting the interview know all candidates will have some form of anxiety. Also, don't forget that many times the person interviewing you is nervous too! They have a lot to lose if they hire the wrong person and look bad in front of their boss, so they can also be a bit on edge.

The key when it comes to nerves is to expect it, and manage it so that it doesn't ruin your interview. Here are some tips and tricks to keep you calm throughout the interview process.

Before your interview

Do your homework

The more confidence you have before your interview the calmer you will be. Take time to do some research on the company. Read any recent press releases or articles to reference during your interview. Check the corporate website to see what other open jobs they have. It's good to know if they are looking for multiple people.

Reread the job description

Make sure you have a strong understanding of the job qualifications before your interview. The interviewer will want to hear about your experience and skill set. Practice answering common questions that speak to your background.

Know where you are going

Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your job interview. Running late you can make you more nervous. Every company has a different check-in process.

Read any instructions you have been given on where to park and what to bring to your interview. If you aren't good with directions, do a practice run to the office or read over a map. This way, when the day of your interview comes you will feel less anxious about getting there.

Practice talking points

The more you practice, the less nervous you will be on the day of your job interview. You have no way of knowing what the interviewer is going to ask you but you can practice answers to common interview questions. Most candidates sound more confident when they have rehearsed a version of what they want to share with a future employer.

Be prepared to speak to the job description for the position you are interviewing for. A candidate should also expect to be asked about previous jobs and why they are looking for a new role.

How do I calm my nerves for an interview?


During your job interview remember to breathe. People interviewing to want to get everything out they have planned in their heads. This can lead to you rushing and coming off nervous.

Take time to listen to each question and think before you answer. The interviewer wants to hear about your experience and background.

You don't need to squeeze every detail into one answer. If you start to fumble take a deep breath to help calm your nerves.

Redirect the conversation

Your future employer does not expect you to have all the answers. If the interviewer poses a question you aren't sure about, redirect the conversation. You can ask a clarifying question or give a polite answer such as I'll have to get back to you on that. 

If you start to get nervous, talk about something you are confident in. This could be an experience from a previous job or expertise relevant to the open position.

Be honest

Even if you have done all the preparation and know your talking points, you may still be a ball of nerves at your job interview. It's okay to share with the interviewer that you are nervous. You might think it's one of the weaknesses that interviewers try to avoid when hiring, but it's a lot more normal for a person to be nervous at interviews than you might think.

Saying it out loud can actually help. Share with the employer that you are extremely interested in the position and the company. Apologize for being a little nervous but ensure them you are ready to answer any and all questions.

The interviewer will most likely tell you it's totally normal and everyone gets a little anxious during a job interview.

Is it bad to be nervous during an interview?

If a company holds it against you for being nervous in a job interview, it's probably not the job for you. As long as you can recover and still leave a positive impression, nerves should not be a reason to keep you from landing a new job with any business. In short, it shouldn't be a big deal and the manager or boss probably won't mind, even if your voice is very shaky and you don't have the best control of your nerves.

What should you do after a bad interview?

First of all, until they contact you, you won't know what the interviewer really thought. So, don't panic. The only thing you can do is follow up and express your interest again and appreciation for their time. Just relax and be patient after that.


Don't forget the tips and tricks to stay calm. Have a friend run through common job interview questions for better chances at success. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be on the day of your job interview and the more likely employers will be to see you like a good, professional fit for their company.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my nerves are negatively impacting my job interview performance?

If you find yourself struggling to articulate your thoughts, frequently losing your train of thought, or exhibiting physical signs of stress like excessive sweating or shaking, your nerves may be impacting your interview performance. It's important to practice relaxation techniques and prepare thoroughly to minimize these effects.

Are there any strategies to quickly calm nerves during an interview?

Yes, there are several strategies you can use to calm your nerves quickly during an interview. Taking deep, slow breaths can help reduce anxiety, as can pausing for a moment to collect your thoughts. It's also beneficial to remind yourself that it's normal to be nervous and that the interviewer expects some level of nervousness.

Can mentioning my nervousness in a job interview be seen as a sign of honesty and self-awareness?

Acknowledging your nervousness can indeed be seen as a sign of honesty and self-awareness if done appropriately. A brief mention that you're excited about the opportunity and that it may be causing some nerves can humanize you to the interviewer. However, it's important not to dwell on it or let it become the focus of the interview.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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