How to stay relaxed and positive during your interview

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If thinking about your upcoming job interview is making you nervous, you’re not alone.

So how can you stay relaxed and positive during your interview?  It all begins with preparation. You can read our tips about preparation in the article How to prepare for an interview.

Once you’ve followed those preparation tips, you’ve done the most important part and set yourself up for a calm and successful interview day.

Here’s what else you can do to stay calm and positive:

Plan your day

On the day of your interview, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to get ready and get to the interview location.

Plan the timing of your day so that you won’t be rushed.

If you can arrive a few minutes early, you’ll be setting yourself up for a calm start to the interview.

Rehearse your answers

If you’ve thought about potential interview questions and how you might respond to them, spend some time rehearsing your answers.

You can do this with a friend, family member or by yourself in front of the mirror.

Don’t forget to smile at yourself and maybe even give yourself a pep talk in the mirror (don’t worry, no one is watching and positive self talk can be powerful).

Think of the interview as a conversation

An interview is simply a conversation between two or more people.

Think of it as people getting to know each other and exploring if they’d like to work together.

If you can think of it like that, you will create a more relaxed vibe for yourself and help to calm your nerves.

You never know, the interviewer might be nervous too!

First impressions

It’s important to create a positive first impression.

From the security guard to the front desk and anyone else you encounter on your way to the interview room, be polite, professional and positive.

Smile, look people in the eye and even if you’ve had a terrible morning or journey to the interview, don’t let this flavour your conversations.

Creating a positive first impression will set the tone for the rest of the interview.

Act the part

Even if you’re not feeling confident, try to act confident. This will help to overcome some of your nerves and create a positive vibe.

A firm handshake and open smile is a great place to start.

Think about your body language

Beyond a firm handshake, make sure you look the interviewer in the eye, sit straight in your chair and don’t play with your clothes/hair/bag during the interview.


When we feel stressed or anxious, our body releases stress hormones, which can make it even more difficult to think clearly and perform well.

Taking long, deep breaths is one way to calm yourself down.

If your nerves overwhelm you or you find yourself talking too fast, take a few deep breaths.

Take your time

Many people tend to talk faster when they are nervous. Others go completely blank.

It’s important to slow down your speech (and thinking) so you can articulate yourself well.

Even if you feel like you’re speaking really slowly - you’re probably not.

Accept that the interview won’t go perfectly

We’re all human – there are bound to be some awkward moments during the interview and some questions you could have answered better.

Employers aren’t looking for perfect people, they’re looking for real people. If the interview wasn’t perfect, don’t sweat it.

Remember, being nervous is completely normal. It’s part of being human and it’s a sign that you care.

Follow the steps above to dial down those nerves a bit and be your best self on interview day.


Ready to find your next job?

We have assisted thousands of kiwis to gain new skills and secure work. You might be recently out of work, needing confidence building and interview practice, have a health or disability challenge, or maybe you are switching fields and need support accessing funding for licenses or short courses.

We will work with you on a personalised plan to help you prepare for, find and maintain work.

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