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5 Tricks to Calm Down Before a Big Job Interview


It’s a cruel fact of the job search process: just when you need to have your wits about you, the pressure of acing the job interview makes it hard to project calm professionalism. If only you could be as relaxed before the interview as you inevitably will be after — when all you have to do is think about how much better you’d be, if you could just do everything over again.


(Photo Credit: Mike Licht/Flickr)

In real life, there are no do-overs, but if you prepare ahead of time, you won’t need one. Here are a few things to try:

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1. Practice making mistakes.

You can’t do a real dry run with the actual interviewer, but practicing with a friend or family member can provide a dress rehearsal. If you choose, you can even make your first practice the throwaway — get out all your corny jokes now, fiddle with your hair or glasses, choke on your water, etc. Then, do it again, and avoid the pitfalls you just uncovered.

2. Smile.

Does pre-interview stress sometimes give you the blues? Flip the switch by fooling your brain.

“When you smile, you are engaging your face, and that is wired to the rest of your brain,” Philip Muskin, MD, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, tells Everyday Health. “If your face is forcing your brain to think it’s happy, then you feel somewhat better.”

3. Meditate the lazy way.

Many people who are prone to anxiety find it hard to unplug their brains and just let go. Fortunately, we live in the future and there are apps for just about anything that ails you — including a difficulty cultivating mindfulness. Mindful offers reviews of some of the best on the market.

4. Eat a banana.

Wait, what? No, seriously: eating a banana might help calm you down. Worst-case scenario, it’s an easy snack when you’re too nervous to eat properly.

“Musicians do this all the time before a big audition or concert,” writes Lily Zhang at The Muse. “Supposedly, some combination of tryptophan, potassium, and beta-blockers found naturally in bananas calms shaky nerves. While there’s some debate over how true this is, even the placebo effect of thinking a banana will calm you down helps your body actually relax.”

5. Say a nursery rhyme.

If your voice shakes when you’re nervous, Robin Kermode at The Guardian suggests sticking your tongue way out and then reciting your favorite nursery rhyme. The exercise should open the back of your throat and make it easier to speak clearly and comfortably.

“Of course, you should do this before the interview – not in front of the panel,” Kermode notes.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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