Nerves got me like ... doh

Why not helping a nervous candidate during an interview hurts you badly.

You are about to interview a candidate who has applied for a job opening you advertised. She joins the call, and after the introductions, you present the agenda for the next 1 hour.

As you start asking questions, you feel that the candidate is off.

She is moving back and forth on her chair. She begins a sentence, cut short when she takes a sharp inhale. She begins to talk again.

Her eyes drift to the right, she touches her hand.


You’ve got it. The candidate is nervous, and showing signs of physical anxiety.

It happens to all of us

How many times has this happened to you?

Was it the last time when you applied for a job? Was it when you pitched that project to a client? Was it when your school sent you off to that competition to represent all your peers?

The point is - you know the feeling. You have experienced it at least once during the past year.

You know how it can make you stumble and fail - even when presented with the simplest task. Regardless of your experience and expertise.

Nervousness can make you fail, and you definitely don’t want this.

Heck, it happened even to me last week when I was interviewed by a new client.

Two weeks ago, a lady burst into tears on minute 15 of the interview. She had a health emergency at home, and yet she was afraid to reschedule because she did not want to lose the opportunity.

Nervousness costs you $$

When a candidate is nervous:

  • he/she will not do well on the interview

  • this would waste both your time and his/her effort to prepare

  • wasted time → wasted money

This is bad. Bad. Bad. Bad.

Here are 5 things to do to make the candidate feel at ease

  1. Smile and engage in small talk.

    1. Ask the candidate about something you see on the background. One candidate told me about an art piece his child has brought home from kindergarten.

  2. Suggest a break.

    1. Say you understand that these calls can be tiring. Suggest to use the next 2-3 minutes to go grab more water, use the bathroom or simply stretch your legs.

  3. Offer to reschedule

    1. Make this clear - no questions asked, no negative consequences for the candidate. Offer a clear deadline - “We need to finish this before next Wednesday. Choose the date and time that work best for you and your schedule.“

  4. Build rapport

    1. Tell them about a time when you were very nervous and how the person in front of you got you out of the pool of self-doubt. - “That’s how he helped me. To repay his kindness, I am paying it forward to you, right now.”

  5. Just ask - “what makes you nervous right now?“

    1. if the candidate tells you that he/she does not know the answer to the question you asked, reply with: “I don’t expect you to be chatGPT, so I know that I will hear answers like I don’t know.“

    2. if you hear words like this is too important for me, thank them for thinking so highly of your company and their drive to show their best self.

Let me know which one of these 5 suggestions worked for you next time when you help a candidate go over their anxiety.

Even better, share a new one with me - and give a bit of context!

Next Week

➡️ We dive deep in the steps to follow to prepare candidates for their interview with you.

Happy Tuesday!


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