Updated: Jun 4
Are you sitting in the waiting room, counting down the seconds until the interview for your dream job begins?
Are your palms sweating and thoughts racing as your stomach churns with nervous anticipation?
Are you asking yourself “Why am I so nervous? Will it cost me the job?”
Let me stop you right there. Being nervous for an interview is not the curse you think it is. In fact, it might even act in your benefit.
As a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant, one of the main questions I get from clients is: “Is being nervous for interviews normal?” My answer is always: “Yes, it is completely normal. In fact, it would probably be hard to find someone who doesn’t get nervous before interviews.”
The second question I get is: “Will nerves destroy my chances of getting the job?” My answer, though often surprising, is almost always “No.” After a visible wave of relief washes over their face, I explain that there are actually positives to being nervous before an interview, and – if utilized correctly – your nerves may set you apart from the crowd.
First, nervousness indicates that you truly care about the job for which they are interviewing, and it demonstrates that you have internal motivation to succeed. Nerves, above all else, are a sign of passion. In turn, employers often view nervousness as a sign of respect1. Only someone who truly appreciates the employer’s work and wants to ensure they make a good impression would be nervous for the interview.
Secondly, with the proper tools, nerves can actually boost your performance in an interview. When someone feels nervous, it means their sympathetic nervous system has become activated. If managed correctly, this activation can focus your attention and significantly limit response time2, making you appear a more attentive and prepared candidate.
However, not all nerves are advantageous. To recap the above-mentioned positives of being nervous, you have to learn how to properly process these feelings. The first step is to notice and accept that you are nervous, regardless of the reason. When you start to feel nervous, do not try and push your nervousness away or pretend you do not feel it. Actively acknowledge the feeling and then move on. The second step is to change how you interpret your nerves. Remind yourself of all the reasons previously discussed as to why feeling nervous is a positive sign. The third and final step is to try and use your nerves as motivation to act. Nothing is worse for nerves than sitting and pondering how they might impact your performance. Instead, use your nervous energy as fuel to engage in extra preparation before your interview.
Now, when you are sitting, waiting for your interview and your stomach starts to churn and your hands begin to sweat, I hope instead of asking yourself “Why am I so nervous?”, you will take a deep breath and ask, “How can I use it to my advantage?”
Written by: MacKenzie Verhelst, BAPsych, CVRP
MacKenzie Verhelst is a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant for Creative Therapy Consultants. MacKenzie is a Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Professional (CVRP) and holds a Bachelor orf Arts degree in Psychology from McGill University. She demonstrates expertise in vocational assessment, resume/cover letter development, interview preparation, active job search support and job sustainment services. MacKenzie is passionate about helping others reach their utmost potential and advocates for finding joy in work. To learn more about Vocational Rehabilitation Services, please visit click here.
1. A Harvard psychologist says this surprising trait can make you more successful. (2016, February 04). Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/amy-cuddy-harvard-psychologist-says-being-nervous-can-make-you-more-successful-a6853336.html
2. Tye, C. B. (2017, January 10). 7 Ways Anxiety Actually Works to Your Advantage. Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/7-ways-anxiety-actually-works-to-your-advantage-0202165