Man sitting on the edge of a jetty looking at a lake surrounded by mountains

Why you should never calm yourself down before an interview

We’ve all been there. The racing heart, the shaky legs, the damp palms that seem to just get stickier every time you rub them on your trousers.  

Everybody gets nervous, and doing interviews can turn even the most confident candidates into a wobbling pile of jelly barely capable of stringing a sentence together, let alone capable of selling themselves to a prospective employer. 

Man sitting on the edge of a jetty looking at a lake surrounded by mountains

But what can you do? Deep breaths and hope for the best? Listen to the soothing sounds of the sea and pray it doesn’t make you rush to the bathroom? What about a quick meditation session on the questionably sticky office floor? 

No, no and no. 

Actually, trying to calm yourself down in this situation is one of the worst things you can do. Instead, research suggests that a better way to deal with anxiety is to pretend you’re excited.  

In an experiment, participants were asked to say either ‘I am excited’, ‘I am calm’ or nothing before performing in a high-stress activity. Those who said ‘I am excited’ reported feeling more confident and producing the best results.  

Man in a blue shirt talking to a woman in a black dress by an office window

But why? It turns out, anxiety and excitement are two very closely linked emotions. Both are high-energy, agitated states but with different perspectives (one positive, one negative). Calmness, on the other hand, is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Therefore, trying to channel your pre-interview nerves into serenity will be about as successful as getting your ex to stop using your Netflix. 

Instead, by reframing your anxiety as excitement, you can put that pent-up energy to good use and perform better!

Sign Up for Job Alerts

Get the latest jobs straight to your inbox