Exceptional ex military professionals

Are Civilians Really That Scary?! Conquering Interview Nerves

Interview nerves are a common issue. Yet it can be an intense and overwhelming feeling when you’re suited, booted and facing the panel. There is no simple answer for this one; it really does depend on the individual. Whether you’re experiencing a few jitters or full blown anxiety, it’s worth considering these suggestions.


  • Prepare. This is nothing new. Preparing thoroughly is the best way to excel at interviews and can help to calm your nerves by getting you into the interview ‘zone’.
  • Write it out. How are you going to internalise all this data? Nervousness can hinder the pathways to information retrieval meaning that your carefully crafted descriptions are all but lost. Hand writing out your examples however can enable you embed the details in your mind. If this doesn’t work for you try saying them aloud, recording it and listening back.
  • Visualise. Spend some quiet time imagining the interview scene. Focus on your calm, confident performance; hear your answers hitting the right notes. Envisage your journey home and the feelings of elation and satisfaction. Sounds a bit much? If you can’t imagine things going well how would you rate your chances in reality?
  • Listen to your self-talk. This can be more challenging than it sounds! Quite often our opinions of ourselves and how we relate to the world and other people are so deeply entrenched that we can hardly distinguish them. This is why we may not ‘hear’ our own negative comments. Be mindful of how you talk to yourself. Spend time noticing and if necessary adapting your inner voice.



  • Just before the interview starts, find a private place and spend a minute focusing on your frame of mind. Try out some ‘power poses’ – make yourself big! Close your eyes and slow your breathing. Be still. You’ll know instinctively what will work for you.
  • Exude confidence. No, really. So you’ve got jelly legs, your words are tripping over each other, your palms are sweaty and your thoughts tangled up. So what do you do? Pretend. Whilst all of that bubbles away underneath, on the outside do your very best to act self-assured. The more you pretend to be this person, the further along you are in becoming that person.
  • Keep going. Use all of your determination to persist. Interviewers are familiar with nerves and how they can impact on the process. Most expect you to press on and many report that the further into the interview, the more things seem to settle.
  • Be aware of body language – this is something you can work on beforehand too. Not only can our body language convey the wrong messages it can also influence how you feel. Are you likely to feel more confident if you’re sat up straight or slouched?



  • Relax, breathe……you did it!
  • Don’t dwell too much on where you may have gone wrong. Use this positively, see where you can improve the next time.
  • Write down or illustrate what went well. If you get very nervous then attending and completing an interview is a massive achievement.
  • Make sure you get feedback, no matter what the outcome. Considered feedback can give us critical information on how to improve.
  • Keep going (again!). Exposure is essential. The more you interview, the more familiar the situation seems, the less intimidating it will become.


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