You’ve Got Some Nerve…How to Support Nervous or Anxious Candidates

If you’re reading this, you have lived through a hell of a lot of life-changing events. Most of these events have been out of our hands but have led to a shift in behaviour where people feel more anxious about what will come next. This has significantly impacted the younger generation (likely job seekers or soon-to-be) with stress and anxiety statistics rising. 

This is amplified when it comes to job searches or interviews. It’s rare to find a candidate who loves interviews or feels completely confident going for a job. It’s a tale as old of time: perfect candidate, but then gets stage fright and the client doesn’t see their full potential. 

You will probably notice you’re dealing with more candidates who might have faced redundancy within the last few years. The increase in UK redundancy rates during coronavirus was faster than during the 2008 and 2009 economic downturn. Redundancy can have a horrible effect on a candidate’s feeling of self-worth and value and add to the fear of beginning a new role. People might have blamed themselves for their redundancy (even if they were a top notch employee) and as a result of the mentally draining redundancy process, have lost confidence in their ability and could be increasingly nervous on the job hunt. 

There are loads more factors that could create a nervous or unsure interviewee. They might have had a negative interview experience (we’ve all been there), been off work for a while due to illness or parental leave, or are just shy and gets anxious meeting new people. We can’t put a pin on exactly why candidates' nerves can get the better of them, but what we can do is give some tips on how to soothe their anxiety prior to a big interview…

Small talk

Hear us out… We’re not talking about when you bump into old school pals where you ask what they’ve been up to and without fail they say “not much, you?”, regardless of whether you’ve not seen them in two weeks or two decades. Start with a little bit of chat about pretty much anything (appropriate of course 🙈) and get them chatting to find their voice before getting to the nitty gritty.


Give them a heads-up about the structure of the interview so they know they aren’t getting thrown any curveballs. Not knowing what comes next keeps us all on the edge of our seats at the best of times and will just add to the nerves. Interviews shouldn’t be about tricking candidates and catching them out. Keep it structured, professional and friendly to get the best out of them.

Offer practice runs

If you’re a recruiter, it will probably already be part of your practice to prep candidates for interviews with your client. Go a step further and offer a run-through interview so that they can get those feelings out of their system. The more familiar they are with their answers, the more likely they are to succeed!

Be their personal cheerleader 📣

Hype 👏 Them 👏 Up! Boost their confidence by reminding them why they’ve been chosen for an interview, why they’re qualified for the job and what you think are their best qualities. Even if they do still let their nerves get the better of them in the interview, they’ll appreciate your efforts and kind words. 

Candidates also tend to feel more comfortable in their own space so conducting interviews over video can be an excellent first step to making them feel better, and with the help of video interview software, it couldn’t be easier.

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