Careers Advice

Getting ahead of your interview nerves

For some people, just the word ‘interview’ is enough to send chills down their spine, but with top tips on bossing your pre-interview nerves from Stepanka Jurenova, Graduate Engagement Manager for the Highlands and Islands, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Published: 30/11/2016

You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect CV and it’s paid off - you’ve been invited for an interview! Although your CV is now in perfect shape, it took you umpteen drafts to get it there. You won’t have that opportunity in an interview and the worry starts to set in. 

Although interviews can be nerve-wracking for even the most seasoned professional, by getting control of your nerves, you’ll be in a great position to really show off what you can bring to the table and land yourself the placement.

Follow the simple steps below to go into your interview full of confidence.

Be prepared

As well as being the motto of the Scouts, ‘be prepared’ is a rule for life and particularly for banishing those interview nerves. Take the pressure out of your interview day by preparing fully, so all you have to think about is the interview itself.

Look up where the interview is being held and work out your travel plans beforehand to make sure you get to the interview on time and unflustered. Try to get a good night’s sleep before the interview so you’re alert and can give the best impression of yourself. A healthy breakfast can also help set you up for the day.

Although there’s no way to know exactly what questions interviewers might throw at you, you can rehearse answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions at interviews. Find out more about what you’re likely to be asked here

Arrive in style

You only get one shot at a first impression, and it’s said that it only takes seven seconds for someone to make a judgement based on appearance. Make sure your shirt is ironed, your shoes are polished and you are smartly presented.

Dressing smartly will not only give your interviewer a positive impression of you, but knowing that you look good will also give you more confidence. As a general rule, it’s always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.

…and breathe

When you’re in the interview, your adrenaline levels will rise, and while that can give some people the boost they need to flourish, for other people, it can make them anxious.

Our voices often give away our nervousness, particularly in interviews when one or a couple of people are listening intently to what you have to say. Your voice can often crackle or shake, making you sound nervous and unsure. One sure-fire way to control your voice is through simple breathing relaxation methods: breathe in deeply for three seconds and then exhale for three seconds. Repeat this three times and your heart rate should slow allowing you to speak clearly.


If your body shakes when you’re nervous, The Guardian recommends some quirky tips on beating the nerves…

Fake it ‘til you make it

You might be feeling nervous, but by projecting confidence through your body language; sitting up straight, smiling, maintaining eye contact, and having a firm (but not bone-crushing) handshake will make you seem more assured and may in-turn help you be more confident.

Trust yourself

Above all else, be confident in your abilities. You’ve been invited to the interview because the employer liked what they saw in your CV. They want to hear what you have to say, so trust that you deserve to be there and show your interviewer why they should hire you. You will have experience from your university career or previous workplaces that you can draw on for examples of when you’ve put your skills into practise.

In your interview, be yourself and show your prospective employer that you are the best candidate for the job and that you would make a great addition to the team.

For more tips on impressing employers, visit our careers advice page or watch our Guide to Interviews video.