How to stay calm in an interview

    Being asked to give an interview can be stressful and nerve-racking – but for many, conducting interviews is unavoidable. That’s why we have written this blog to teach you how to stay calm in an interview.

    Firstly, if you’re nervous, you are not alone. Glossophobia (also known as the fear of public speaking) is the most common fear ahead of death, spiders, and heights; and is believed to affect up to 75% of the population.

    But there are ways you can lessen and manage this fear. Preparation and practice are proven to be key in reducing nerves and remaining calm.


    How to stay calm during an interview

    90% of presentation anxiety comes from a lack of preparation. This is why the work you do before an interview is so important. If you’re hoping to ace your next interview, you must be well prepared.

    How to prepare for an interview:

    1. What will you say?

    Before an interview, it is important to consider the types of questions you will be asked and how you will respond. By pre-empting questions, you will be able to workshop potential responses and have a strong answer prepared.

    You should also think about what you want to say. What information would you like the interviewer/audience to know? These will be your key messages. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with them and consider ways to imbed them in your answers.

    1. Who will you say it to?

    Before you agree to an interview, it’s a good idea to research the interviewer and the company they work for. This will help give you an understanding of the potential angle their story might take, the types of questions you might be asked, and the responses they will be most interested in.

    By tailoring what you say to your audience, you will increase engagement and build deeper connections.

    1. Where and when will you say it?

    Knowing where your interview is, how long it takes to get there, whether there is parking, and what time you need to leave to be there in plenty of time, are all key to reducing nerves. Being prepared means that you will arrive at your interview early and are not rushing – this will only cause more stress.

    Comparatively, if you are completing a virtual interview, be sure to familiarise yourself with the software. It’s a good idea to have headphones with a microphone as in-built computer microphones are typically low quality. You also want to make sure you look your best so ensure there is adequate lighting – a ring light is a good investment if you are regularly engaging in virtual interviews or meetings. And don’t forget to check your background to make sure it’s neat and tidy and presentable.

    What to wear for an interview

    How you dress for an interview is important as it influences how you are perceived. Therefore, it’s important to dress appropriately – but this can be different depending on the type of interview. That’s why we recommended dressing for your audience. If you are giving an interview in a corporate setting, then business attire should be worn. If you are giving interviews on the red carpet, you’ll need to dress to impress.

    Being interviewed on TV? You’ll find tips here: what to wear for a TV interview.

    A good rule of thumb is to keep your outfit simple, as this will make you look more professional. Typically, a well-cut, classically styled jacket with tailored block-coloured clothes is a safe option.

    Regardless of what you wear, it’s important you feel comfortable as this will help you appear more confident and comfortable.

    How to answer interview questions

    When it comes time to answer an interview question, it’s important to remember all the preparation you did beforehand. If you miss something or make a mistake, bring the conversation back to cover what you missed. Stick to the messages you want to get across, take a deep breath and focus on your key points.

    When you’re not prepared or are feeling nervous, you’ll likely find yourself using filler words, such as “um”, “ah”, or “like”. It’s important you do your best not to, as filler words often diminish credibility and detract from your message.

    Instead, you should embrace the power of the pause. Taking a pause before speaking or pausing in speech prevents you from using filler words and helps you appear calm and collected. It also gives you a moment to prepare what you want to say before delivering it.

    Importance of pause in speech

    1. Collect your thoughts

    A pause gives you time to think about how you want to answer a question.

    1. Calm your nerves

    Taking a pause before speaking helps to ‘reset’ and calm nerves.

    1. Emphasise a point

    Long pauses in speech can be used as a strategic tool to highlight your key messages and take control of the interview.

    Never be afraid to take a couple of seconds to pause. A pause will sound a lot longer in your head than it really is.

    Preparation and practice are key in alleviating nerves and staying calm in an interview. For more tailored advice on managing an interview, reach out to our team of communications experts to book either a one-on-one or group media training session.