You know what it feels like when you go to an interview for a job – sometimes there’s just one interviewer, but often there are a panel of interviewers. Either way, interviews can be pretty stressful, and we don’t always perform as well as we would have liked. Often this is because we’re trying to impress the interviewers with our knowledge, experience, and abilities. Most of us over-attend to the words that we’re saying, and we forget about what the rest of our body is doing. However, our body is communicating also, and if we’re saying one thing and our body is doing another, then we’re not perceived as being authentic.


Can you remember back to university days at the beginning of a semester, when you had a couple of new lecturers? I bet you were able to make a decision within about 25 seconds as to whether this was going to be an interesting or boring lecture. You were able to sense that a lecturer had presence before you could work out the tangibles of why!  Each lecturer could be saying exactly the same thing, yet you listened closely to one, and were put to sleep by the other.


Interviewers also make subconscious decisions about candidates as they come in and sit down. If the candidate walks in confidently and prepares to answer questions clearly and succinctly this creates an initial good impression. However, what often happens is that then candidates try to impress interviewers with their textbook knowledge and use of appropriate language. Their language is stilted and they do not come across naturally. The interviewers somehow recognize very early on that the candidate is struggling to deliver a message that they are not confident about.

The following tips are really quick, and are useful if you’re feeling pretty nervous while waiting to go in to the interview.  The first two tips can actually be used during the interview, and the third one before you enter the room.


  • Press thumb and forefinger together as hard as you can, then relax. This is a mini progressive muscle relaxation procedure. Feel how tight the arms and pectoral muscles get, then relax and feel the difference. We often hold a lot of tension in the shoulders and upper body when we are nervous, but this exercise can enable our body and our mind to feel calm.


  • Take a deep breath and pause before responding to questions. If you take a deep breath this actually lowers the heart rate by two or three beats and enables you to focus on your response more readily. The pause allows you to organize your answer, and you actually look thoughtful to the interviewers.


  • Do this before entering room. Roll shoulders, shake fingers and hands, “chew” gum and pull faces, yawn and sigh, turn palms outward to open sternum. This is a super-quickie warmup that actors and performers often do before going on stage. I don’t recommend doing it in front of people, you make look a little weird! But it is very effective in lowering arousal quickly, and only takes a few seconds to do.


Then enter the room, shoulders back, a pleasant expression on your face. This not only makes you feel better, but it also makes the interviewers feel better too. Your interview experience might actually be enjoyable.


Dr. Patsy Tremayne