How to Handle Your First High-Stakes Job Interview

Most of us have gotten through our entry-level job interviews. So when you finally get to a job you’re really excited about with high stakes for your career…what if you freeze?

Don’t panic. Your first high stakes interview can be just as successful as interviews with less pressure. Here are four ways to prepare yourself.

Center yourself

When you’ve got a lot riding on one interview, it’s easy to fall prey to nerves. The first thing you need to do is center yourself with specific mind relaxation techniques. Various forms of meditation and prayer can be effective ways to focus your energy and reach a peaceful place inside yourself. Start with guidance from your faith or try visualization and meditation, which can be honed with apps and videos online and on YouTube.

Realistically evaluate the stakes

Being primed for a stressful event makes it easy to blow things out of proportion and pile even more stress on your efforts. As you prepare for the high-stakes interview, remind yourself that what you’re trying to achieve with this opportunity is one of many opportunities that will come to you in your life. It’s not a one-and-done deal, no matter how the interview itself goes.


Focus on hard facts

Relying on facts can take the pressure off your performance. Use the job description to shape the backbone interview and the questions you prepare. Brainstorm stories that address each bullet point on the job description and practice them so that you’re focusing less on you in that moment and more on your experience and qualifications for the job you want.

Spend some time alone before the interview

Your posture during a job interview is very important, and so is your posture before an interview. If at all possible, try to arrange some alone time right before the interview, perhaps even in the bathroom of the interview location. Use this private time to work through body positions and postures that increase endorphins and put you in a confident and relaxed state of mind. 
A high-stakes interview is just an interview you really care about. Use that sense of investment to power your preparation, not your stress dreams.