It's natural to freak out before an important interview—take a deep breath and try one of these easy stress-relievers.

By Samantha Zabell and Maggie Seaver
Updated August 15, 2019
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Even if you've already done everything you can to prepare for an interview, pre-interview jitters are unavoidable for pretty much everyone. Some nerves are good though (they mean you care!), and it's important to know they're completely natural. Next time your nerves start getting the best of you before an interview, try some of these proven ways to get grounded and temper nervousness so you can walk into it feeling as calm and confident as possible.

1. Address yourself by name.

Like to give yourself a little pep talk in your head before tackling a nerve-wracking task? Try this trick to make it more effective: The Harvard Business Review actually found that people who avoid first-person pronouns when giving themselves a pep talk were more calm and confident compared to those who referred to themselves using first-person pronouns such as “I” or “me.” What’s more, people who use the second- or third-person ("you" or their own name)—and therefore distance themselves from the task—also spent less time stewing over their performance afterward. For example, next time, try thinking or saying, "Samantha, you got this!" instead of, "I got this!" to pump yourself up.

2. Chew gum (but remember to spit it out).

While you should never walk into an interview with gum in your mouth, chewing on something minty fresh right before your meeting might help relieve stress (and maybe even make you feel more alert). In one University of Melbourne study, researchers found that participants reported less anxiety while chewing gum, and their saliva had lower levels of cortisol—the stress hormone. In another study, non-chewers reported much more work-related stress than gum chewers.

3. Tell people you're excited—instead of nervous.

Research from the Harvard Business School showed that forcing yourself to frame nervousness as excitement is a “simple, minimal intervention that can be used quickly and easily” to ease nerves. Instead of discussing how nervous you are for the interview, let people know how excited you are about the opportunity. We like to refer to this trick as "fake it 'til you become it."

4. Snack on something sweet.

You're going to love this nerve-busting technique: Nosh on some dark chocolate. In one study, scientists in Switzerland found that eating dark chocolate reduced stress responses in a group of healthy adult men. More research from Loma Linda University confirms the positive effects of dark chocolate on stress levels, inflammation, mood, and memory. A simple indulgence like enjoying a few pieces of dark chocolate in the days leading up to an interview might be the perfect stress-reduction trick to try.

5. Choose tea over coffee.

If you’re feeling nervous, a cup of coffee may only increase your heart rate, especially if you’re pre-disposed to an anxiety disorder. Instead, opt for a cup of black tea before your meeting—caffeine can make you jittery, exacerbate nerves, and cause you to speak faster. “If you want a drink beforehand to wake up, go with a black tea,” says Angela Aylward, a public speaking tutor at Varsity Tutors and the founder and creator of AMA Creative Solutions. “It has about as much caffeine as coffee, but it won’t spike your adrenaline as much.”

6. Squeeze in some meditation.

Taking a few minutes to center your mind, body, and breathing could be just what you need to de-stress before a work interview. Studies have proven that consistent meditation helps lower cortisol levels in your body and fire up your brain's prefrontal cortex, responsible for feelings of calmness and happiness. In the moment, however, it will help distract you from the direct stressor at hand and get you in the zone for your meeting. (Ready to start meditating? Try one of these awesome meditation apps.)

7. Go for a walk.

Exercise is one of the easiest stress relievers—the Mayo Clinic even calls it “meditation in motion”—but if you’re already sweating from nerves, a run won’t help. Instead, go for a quick walk before your interview to boost endorphins and help you feel more confident.

  • By Samantha Zabell
  • By Maggie Seaver