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Tips on Reducing Job Interview Stress: Before, During and After

Service member job interview
U.S. Army photo by Dustin Senger

If you’re like many people, the initial excitement felt after landing an interview with a potential employer turns quickly to feelings of nervousness about the interview and questions you may be asked, or questions you hope aren’t asked. To help you manage these unknowns and prepare for what follows, the Real Warriors Campaign article, “Tips on Reducing Job Interview Stress,” offers insight to help you build confidence and reduce stress during the job interview process.

Before the Interview: Prepare
You’ve secured the interview, now prepare for it. The interviewing process is an important opportunity for the employer to learn more about you in addition to what’s on your resume. It’s also a chance for you to learn more about the company and position for which you’re interviewing. Below are some best practices to help you organize your thoughts and gather essential information to share:

  • Research the company and job responsibilities. Visit the company’s website to get a feel for its business and its culture, and the job for which you’re applying. Read its annual report and other publications to get a sense of its priorities and competition. 
  • Review your resume. Be prepared to talk about accomplishments that appear on your resume as well as ones that don’t. Think back on your previous positions and be prepared to highlight your successes or jobs you felt you did well.
  • Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and anticipate questions the employer might ask. Practice your interviewing skills with a friend.
  • Contact potential references. Reach out to your professional and personal network for references and bring a list of names and contact information to the interview.

During the Interview
Your goal is to demonstrate that your abilities and personality are a good fit for the company. Follow these tips to help you perform at your best and keep interview stress minimized:

  • Arrive on time
  • Turn off your cell phone
  • Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and introduce yourself
  • Sit comfortably, but maintain good body posture
  • Be confident, smile and make eye contact
  • Listen carefully to the questions and make sure you understand what’s being asked
  • Use your voice and gestures to communicate enthusiasm
  • Try to minimize distracting habits (tapping your pen, twirling your hair or moving your legs) and filler words such as “umm” and “like”
  • Be positive about your past jobs and experience

After the Interview: Follow Up
Lastly, do a verbal follow up or written thank-you note after the interview. This shows the employer you’re proactive and interested in the position, and may give you an edge over other candidates. Also, reflect on your experience, what went well and what didn’t. All of these tips will help shoo away those interview jitters and replace them with the confidence that comes from being prepared. Read more tips for a successful interview.

If you’re searching for employment and haven’t gotten an interview request yet, consider the five tips in our “Job Searching Tips for the Veteran with PTSD or TBI” blog post.

Stress management resources:

Employment resources: 

Interviewing resources:

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