Got Job Interview Nerves? Fuggedaboudit!


Amazing, how a job interview can make our blood run cold.  

Our ego, sense of self, and value get all tied up in being picked. Our brains gear up wildly to compete, to be the winner! 

I spent a lot of years as a functional hiring manager for a Fortune 500 energy company. The people I hired either worked for me or for departmental colleagues. As a consultant, I still help clients screen resumes and interview. 

Over the years, I’ve hired over 100 candidates myself or as part of selection teams. I thought you should know that, so you’ll believe this: 

More often than not, the person interviewing you is in a major squeeze and feelin’ it! 

Yes, the interviewer, not just you, is feeling the pressure. S/he has a position to fill and chances are it’s been open for longer than anyone would like. That means work isn’t getting done, other staff are picking up the slack, and the manager is feeling the pinch. Someone is undoubtedly squawking. This reality works in your favor, so relax. 

4 Things to Remember When You Sit Down for the Interview 

Curb your nerves by focusing on the needs of the interviewer and not yourself. Here’s why and how: 

1. The interviewer is desperately hoping that you are the right person for the job

That means the interviewer is rooting for you. They want you to do well. They are hoping beyond hope that you will mean the end of their search. They really want you to be the candidate they’ve been looking for, so you will make them a winner. 

2. Your interviewer wants you to relax, so s/he can relax. 

Interviewing isn’t easy. It means asking the right questions, gathering the right information, assessing you correctly, and representing the company positively so you’ll want to work there if chosen. If you’re a visible wreck, you will be a distraction and will take the fun out of the process for the interviewer and yourself. 

3. The interviewer will be grateful for anything you do to make the process go smoothly.

If you approach the interview generously and focus on meeting the needs of the interviewer for crisp and clear answers, you’ll showcase your skills as a communicator and team player. This means being prepared and asking the interviewer if s/he has gotten the needed information.

 4. The interviewer wants the conversation with you to be enjoyable. 

Interviewing is tedious unless the candidate takes the monotony out of it. A candidate with an appropriate sense of humor, a relaxed but alert demeanor, and the ability to use the questions as a way to engage in dialogue about the job is a godsend. That will be you! 

You can’t be more than you are. 

You can’t hire yourself for the job. But you can showcase your business fitness by explaining what you know, the skills you have, and the experiences you’ve banked. Trying to oversell yourself or to compete with candidates you don’t even know is the death knell. 

When you get hired for a job, you’re committing to a relationship with the hiring manager and the company. It’s the job of the interviewer to decide whether or not you and the company are a good fit. 

So be patient and be yourself. 

Candidate selection isn’t just about the interview. 

A lot goes into final hiring decisions and it’s not always about you and your interview. That’s another reason to leave your nerves at home. 

If you have a nerve-soothing perspective to share, please share it in a comment. Thanks.


5 thoughts on “Got Job Interview Nerves? Fuggedaboudit!

  1. Great job on this, Dawn. I think these are true in most situations for sure. One thing to add to this list:

    Recruiters/HR folks have been cut in most companies, so this leaves less recruiters and more pressure. When you say that they want the candidate to be the hired employee, you mean it! It really is true. One job filled is one less on the board!

    • Thanks for weighing in, Rich. I really value your input and insights from the recruiter’s side of the desk.

      HR rarely gets credit for the valued-added, bottom-line impacting service that it provides in companies large and small. The quality candidates that end up serving the company need to pass through those recruiter gates.

      As a long-time functional manager, my perspective on the interview starts after the HR handoff or from the internal candidate posting where the interviewee is looking for a promotion or transfer. Your view balances things out.

      Thanks for your insights and for getting back to me with your comment after my tweet. Made my day!

  2. Dawn,
    Love this blog post and am bookmarking to share with my clients!

    I really like the point you made, right out of the gate, that generally the person doing the interviewing is in a ‘squeeze.’ As well, they are desperately hoping the candidate is the right fit for the job (so they can make a hire and tame the disruption caused by the vacant position).

    Researching the company/interviewer, etc. as much as feasibly possible, indeed, will make the conversation more focused on the interviewer’s needs (and at the same time, should equip the candidate with more
    confidence and calm).

    Your points reiterate a mantra I try to maintain with my clients: it’s all about THEM (the company they are targeting) — keep your eyes and ears focused on THEIR needs; wrap your conversation around them; resonate with THEM, and you will accelerate your search.

    Thanks for your great blog and Twitter presence, Dawn!

    (@ValueIntoWords / Twitter)

    • I am delighted to be on the same page with you, Jacqui! Thanks for affirming and reaffirming the point that in an interview, the interviewer is the customer. The job at hand is to meet or exceed the customer’s expectation for service (our undivided attention), quality (information to meet their needs), and ease of transaction (our style).

      I am so grateful for your insights on THEM and your high compliment re: bookmarking. Thanks for taking the time to pen a reply that expands the topic.

      I’ll see you again soon on Twitter and on your blog too!

Leave a Reply