Posted by: kris10ly | January 28, 2010

Pre-Interview Jitters? Here’s How to Lose Them.

Sweaty palms…

Mind racing…

Stomach in knots…

Can’t breath…


These are typical symptoms of pre-interview jitters. Is this what you’re feeling? If not, you’re one step ahead. If so, I have just the remedy for you. But, before you go any further, take a deep breath and relax. Okay, now you’re ready.

Human Resource expert, Susan M. Heathfield, wrote an article called, “Believe What You See: How To Use Nonverbal Communication in Hiring” (About). It is written from the interviewer’s standpoint versus the interviewee. Heathfield included a quote from writer Peter F. Drucker, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” The problem is, many people focus more on what to say and forget about the big picture (i.e.- posture, gestures, expressions, etc.).

Do you try to create a script in your mind before a interview? Avoid it at all cost. Poet William Carlos Williams said it perfectly, “It’s not what you say that matters but the manner in which you say it.” Or in even simpler terms, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” (Career Builder). Here are some main points I gathered from Career Builder:

  • Have them at “hello”

First and foremost, be on time. Remember, they made time for you in their busy schedule. Don’t ruin this opportunity before it even begins!

As I said in my previous post on cover letters, “…research as much as you can about the company you are looking to apply for.” Employers assume that you’ve prepared yourself about their company, commonly asked interview questions and how to dress to impress (By this I mean professionally, not a night out on the town!). You want the first moment they see you to be, “You’ve got the right one baby!” Okay, maybe not quite like that, but you get the gist. Also, always make eye contact and give a firm handshake. To sum it up, don’t be a dead man walking. Just prep!

  • Shake your hand, watch yourself

…shake your hand, show them what your working with. Be confident. Lose the pre-interview jitters. If you can’t sit still, the employer might think you, the potential employee, won’t be able to stay focused.

  • Don’t…

1. “Rub the back of your head or neck.” This shows a lack of interest.

2. “Rub or touch your nose.” It implies that you may not be trustworthy. Or, lack of hygiene. Keep your hands in check!

3. “Sit with your arms folded across your chest.” Open up! Relax. If you clam up, you may as well see yourself to the door.

4. “Cross your legs and idly shake one over the other.” Are you five? Sit still and pay attention. Again, just relax.

5. “Lean your body towards the door.” Do you have better things to do with your time? No, but I’m sure the employer does. Stay engaged.

6. “Slouch back in your seat.” Sit up straight, on the edge of your chair and feet on the floor. Show them that you’re prepared.

7. “Stare back blankly.” Earth to potential employee!? Come back! Distancing yourself will not get you hired.

  • Do

The opposite of everything I just said. Sit up straight and smile. Engage in conversation. Avoid the extra dose of cologne or perfume, but feel free to layer on as much deodorant as you want. And stay away from foods that make you… well, you know what I mean.

  • Say Goodbye Gracefully

Thank the interviewer and give that firm handshake. Keep in mind, the interview is not over until you’re in car. Make sure you keep the same composure, because you never know who’s watching…

Another site I encourage you to check out is CollegeGrad. They have a list of the “top five nonverbals.” It’s ranked from the most important to least important tips.

1. “Eye Contact“- Are you good at making eye contact with your friends and family? If not, you better practice before you go into an interview. It can make or break you. Practice makes perfect (or close to it)!

2. “Facial Expressions“- Pay attention to your expressions. Look lively, not lifeless. Give a genuine smile. Show them you’re excited to be there! An employer doesn’t want to hire a negative nancy!

3. “Posture“- Sit up straight. Be confident. Walk tall, stand tall, sit tall… be tall (it doesn’t matter what height you are). Get it? Got it? Good.

4. “Gestures“- Don’t talk with your hands excessively, like a New Yorker (it’s okay, my whole family’s from there). If you’re clumsy, you may knock over their coffee. Just use as needed and with caution.

5. “Space“- Figure out a comfortable space between you and the interviewer. Don’t get all up in their business, but don’t be on the complete opposite side of the room either. Whatever comes natural, for both of you. Be observant.

I hope this post helps you feel more comfortable and confident about interviewing. I know it may seem overwhelming at first, but the more you do it, the more natural it will be. Be yourself, to an extent (don’t act like you would with your buddies). And last but not least, don’t get discouraged or give up. You may have the best interview of your life and not get the job. If you do your part and it’s meant to be, then it will be. If it’s not meant to be, then keep moving forward!

P.S.- Not to ruin your day, but I will not be posting a new topic next week. But, stop in the following week for, “Benefits/Pitfalls of Social Media in the Job Search.”

As always, I love feedback from all of you!



  1. Thanks Kristen, I think I need to come back to this post before I go in for an interview. Especially the don’t section. The information is layed out nicely and the post is really easy to read! I think non-verbals become even important when HR is interviewing you, they know all this stuff and what it is communicating! You want to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you lose you manners. Very informative and you have some great reminders in here. Thanks for sharing!

  2. […] Link: […]

  3. This blog post is actually very helpful. Almost everyone is nervous before and during an interview. Suggestions on things to do that can eliminate some of that nervousness is always greatly needed. Also the Do’s and Don’ts portions of the blog can very much come in handy. I did not know rubbing the back of your head or neck showed your lack of interest. Of course I agree with you about staying engaged in the conversation. Blank stares are not a good thing to give, I agree with you on that too. Good posture, a becoming smile, all good things to have in an interview. That makes for a comfortable yet professional environment. In saying goodbye, exiting with a firm handshake and maintaining composure is awesome advice. Appreciate this blog, great job.

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