9 Steps to Conquer Nerves for Interviews and Communicate Authentically

In 2008, I was asked by Andrew Dlugan to write an article for his 6 Minutes Public Speaking blog about steps to help conquer nerves for interviews. Now in 2020 with so many people being laid off due to the COVID19 pandemic, I am revising that article and posting it here. Being interviewed for a job or by the media can generate the same tension and anxiety as public speaking does for many people. In this article, you will learn to take on interviewing like an athlete preparing for the championship. You will understand how to prepare yourself to be transparent for interviews so that you can share yourself and your expertise authentically.

These steps will help you conquer nerves for interviews. Think about the word interview. Break it into syllables: in-ter-view. To be interviewed means to let someone see in to you, and that will feel vulnerable. So, like an athlete, you must prepare, not only to answer questions, but to open yourself to be transparent and to manage the physical tensions and emotional anxieties that happen when you are being evaluated or questioned.

I will outline nine steps for conquering your nerves and communicating authentically. I have taught these steps with remarkable success to clients who were preparing to interview. For this article, these 9 steps to conquer nerves for interviews will be divided into three sections:

  1. Changing the way you think about the interview process
  2. Preparing to share your experience and expertise
  3. Handling the bodily-felt tension and anxiety

How to Think about the Interview

  1. Be there to help your interviewer.

Don’t think about an interview as an audition or test. Thinking so puts you in the position of being judged, which will trigger tension and anxiety. Instead, think about your interview as an opportunity to help the interviewer find the right person to employ. He is looking for someone to hire because his company needs someone to help them be successful. So, think in terms of helping the interviewer find out if and how you can help his company. Consider also that you are seeking to find out if you are that right person. You also want to make sure you want to be a part of that company. This attitude will help help empower you and conquer nerves for your interview process. If you are being interviewed by the media, think about helping the reporter and his listeners understand something that you know about.

  1. Detach from the outcome of the interview.

I know this is hard, but try to let go of the outcome having to be a certain way. Anytime you have to have it be a certain way, you will be stressed. So, figure out what you are pressing to have happen and then let it go. Be willing for it not to happen the way you want it. This puts you in neutral energy where you can be present and feel open to more possibilities. Turn your results over to a higher power and ask that the outcome be for the highest good of all concerned.

Prepare to Share Your Experience and Answer Questions

  1. Determine likely interview questions.

You probably know most of what they will ask you. List on paper the questions that your interviewer will most likely ask you to answer. Be sure to include the really hard interview questions that you are afraid to answer. And also include, “Tell me about yourself.”

  1. Write and practice your answers.

For each of the questions, write your answers on paper. Then, practice them aloud until you can share your answers fluidly. You may be tempted to skip the practice, but don’t. Vocal expression is different from the thought process. You must speak your answers out loud for fluid expression.

  1. Decide what you want them to know about you.

Next, list on paper the important points that you want to communicate to the interviewer about your background, abilities, qualities, experience and expertise. What do you want to make sure you tell them no matter what they ask? Get very clear about this list.

  1. Illustrate important points with stories.

For each important point you want to make, write down the things you want to share and an example (story) that backs up the point. For instance, if you say you managed a team effectively, tell a story about a challenging situation that happened that proves you managed the team well. Then, practice sharing your points and stories aloud until you can speak them fluidly. Be aware that your stories will help you respond to the behavioral questions such as “How did you handle a situation where you were in conflict with a co-worker?”

Handling Tension and Anxiety

  1. Warm up your body.

Before you go to your interview, do enough physical exercise so that your body is loose and flowing. Make sure you stretch fully and that you elevate your heart rate so that blood is pumping. Most people don’t realize how much physical tension impairs their ability to communicate freely. Actors and athletes know the power of warming up. You should too.

  1. Ground yourself in your body.

Get out of your head and into your body. Learn to relax your mental attention down into your body all the way to your feet. Imagine you melt energy out of your head and let it flow down through your body until you fill your entire body. Grounding clears your head and creates a sense of physical strength and emotional safety. It helps you think on your feet and speak from your heart. You can think on your feet when you are in your feet, and you can speak from your heart when you have attention in your heart area. Grounding is the most effective antidote to performance and presentation anxiety I know. You can purchase a 14-minute grounding meditation from my website.

  1. Breathe.

Really. Breathe. After you ground yourself, take deep breaths, fast breaths, and slow breaths until you relax. Breathing helps oxygenate your brain and relaxes your body. Focus on breathing for 10 minutes one hour before your interview. When you have finished these steps, you will feel ready to interview. Instead of feeling dread, you will be eager to get to the interview so you can share yourself. You will feel like an athlete who is ready to take on the current world champion.

About Me

I love to help leaders at all levels conquer nerves for interviews and prepare to interview well. Maybe because I make it simply about sharing themselves authentically and maybe because I know how to draw out the best from people, my clients have most often been successful after coaching with me. At the end of an 8-hour coaching series, clients feel excited and eager to share their expertise and experience. They know who they are, what they have to offer and how it may benefit a prospective employer. They know they can help the interviewer find the right person. If I can help you prepare to interview, reach out to me and request a free coaching session to explore how we might work together.

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