How to manage your nerves in a job interview

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How to manage your nerves in a job interview

BY Skillset Marketing 02 Aug, 2021

Let’s face it – job interviews can be a little nerve-racking.

Job interviews are basically a test for the person applying for a job. They are an important part of most job recruitment processes as job interviews give employers and recruiters the opportunity to see the real person behind the CV and covering letter.

But how do you tackle your nerves in a job interview to ensure you are putting your best self forward?

Skillset’s Youth Connect Consultant, Robyn Isbester has worked with hundreds of job seekers and explains that being nervous in an interview situation is completely normal.

“The key to dealing with nerves is being self-aware and understanding how you respond when you are nervous,” says Robyn. “Once you are aware of your responses, you can then make some small adjustments for how you present at the interview.”

So, what are some of the main nervous responses and the ways to deal with these? We pinpoint five nervous responses typically seen in interview situations and provide some advice for managing them:

Breathlessness – Some people get breathless during interviews and may find it difficult to manage their breathing. If this is what happens to you, try to slow down your answers and remember it is okay to pause before you provide a response to any interview questions. A few deep breaths during the interview will also help with regulating your breathing again.

Trembling or over-expressive hands – Many people experience shaky hands when they are nervous, whereas others can’t seem to keep their hands still and may use excessive hand actions to reinforce their answers to questions. Whilst neither of these responses should be particularly detrimental to your job interview outcome, they can take the emphasis off what you are saying in an interview. To deal with trembling or over-expressive hands, try clasping your hands firmly in your lap or on the desk in front of you at the beginning of the interview. Make sure you check in on your hands during the discussion. If they have ‘broken free’, remind yourself to clasp them together again.

Jittery legs – Some people get fidgety during job interviews and can’t keep their legs still. If you are one of these people, think about crossing your legs or crossing your ankles under your chair during the interview. Every time you attempt to move your legs during the interview, the crossing position should remind you to keep your legs where they are.

Blushing – Many people, particularly women, experience blushing during job interviews which presents as a red neck or chest. For most people, this is a natural physiological response to a stressful situation. Nevertheless, some people are very embarrassed by it and may be worried about this response during an interview. Whilst it is probably impossible to eliminate this response completely, it is possible to disguise it through your choice of clothing. As a result, consider wearing a collared shirt or a top that completely covers your chest during a job interview.

Sweating – Another normal physical response that can happen during interviews is sweating. Some people experience sweating on their hands, their face or on their body – or a combination of all three – during stressful situations. Excessive sweating can make people very self-conscious and can affect their performance in interviews. To combat this physiological response in an interview, try the following techniques:

  • Don’t wear clothes that will make you too hot during a job interview, although wearing a jacket will help conceal any excessive body sweating.
  • Place your hands palms-down on the top of your legs during the interview to keep your hands dry.
  • Keep some tissues close by to dry your face if face sweating is a problem.
  • Ask for a glass of water during the interview to keep yourself hydrated and cool.

It is important to remember that whilst these nervous responses can make you feel uncomfortable or anxious, many people experience these same sort of responses during job interviews.

“A good recruiter will have seen these responses before and will employ various techniques to try and make the candidate feel at ease,” explains Robyn.

As a result, try not to dwell too much on how nervous you might become in an interview. Remember you are not the only person who reacts this way. Try the tips we have suggested to reduce your concerns about your nervous responses but keep your focus on answering the questions asked by the interviewer and putting your best self forward by concentrating on the skills, qualifications and experience you can offer an employer.


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We are honoured to be on the ancestral lands of those whose cultures are among the oldest living cultures in human history. We pay respect to the Elders, past, present and to the younger generation of the community who will be the future leaders in years to come.