How to Overcome Job Interview Jitters

July 5, 2022   |   Lesli Mones

It’s the morning of a big job interview, a role you badly want.

You start the day feeling good and arrive early to wait in the lobby. Some jitters sneak in, but you feel confident you’re the right person for the job–until you sit before the panel of interviewers and make eye contact with the people seated across from you.

Large group of people sitting in waiting room before job interview for their potential business position. Focus is on happy black woman.

Your stomach gets tight, you start to sweat, and you’re afraid others can hear your pounding heart. And just like that, you sink. You doubt yourself. You question whether you’re good enough for the role. Your negative thoughts have taken over and you’re convinced you won’t get the role.

Unfortunately, this is more often than not how interviews play out. It doesn’t matter how successful, intelligent, or talented you are–the fear of being negatively evaluated in a high-stakes situation can bring even the most competent human being to her knees.

You’re Focus Got Hijacked

When you feel threatened in this way, your brain and nervous system are incapable of making the distinction between a panel of interviewers and a hungry lion. Your amygdala has been hijacked.

Suddenly, you lose contact with your inner resources and begin reacting to stories in your own head, as opposed to what’s actually happening.

The good news is, you can protect yourself from these episodes, and it doesn’t require you to become brighter, bolder, or more confident than you already are. You can do this in one simple step: focus on giving. It may seem counterintuitive, but when you take your attention away from yourself, magic happens.

What Do I Have To Give? 

Focus your attention on this: how can I help them? It sounds counter-intuitive, but this will ward off self-doubt and engage your brain’s best-thinking; you’ll start conjuring up your intelligence, generosity, and ease; and you’ll instantly become more compelling as you’re connected to something bigger and more purposeful than yourself.

When you focus on giving to your interviewers, you will offer them the information, knowledge, and insights they need to determine whether you are right for the role. In turn, you’ll also discover if the role is actually right for you–so ask yourself:

  • What can I share to help them get to know me?
  • How can I understand their needs?
  • What useful insights can I offer?

Learning to control your attention is the mother of all tasks; it’s a lifelong practice. But a helpful trick is to show up for others. Put your focus on them, and on what you have to offer.