How to calm down before an interview

How to overcome interview anxiety

Walking into an interview room (or entering a Zoom room) can sometimes feel like a performance, where every word or gesture will be scrutinized. 

This high-stakes environment and fear of messing up often leads to what many refer to as "interview anxiety," a common hurdle that can significantly impact your performance. 

The good news? Interview anxiety can be managed, ensuring you put your best foot forward. And in this article, you’ll learn how meditation techniques and mindfulness practices can be powerful tools in calming your nerves before an interview, setting the stage for success.

Understanding interview anxiety

Interviews are inherently stressful situations. They are pivotal moments where outcomes can significantly impact your career path. 

And the stress of wanting to make a good impression can activate your body's "fight or flight" response, which can affect both your mental and physical health. This response can explain why you might find your palms sweaty, your heart racing, or your thoughts scattered when you’re about to enter an interview. 

But with awareness of your symptoms and strategies for overcoming them, you can rest assured that you’ll communicate effectively and that your nerves will not stand between you and the next step in your career. 

Pre-interview preparation

Preparation is your best defense against interview anxiety. Familiarizing yourself with the company, rehearsing common interview questions, and choosing your outfit beforehand can significantly boost your confidence and reduce pre-interview nerves.

Not to mention, engaging in a few meditation techniques, which we’ll discuss next, can really help, too. 

Reduce pre-interview stress with coping skills for mental health

When you’re in an interview, it’s important to be calm and confident so that you can think clearly and perform your very best. And while many types of coping skills, like meditation can help you calm your interview nerves, these specific techniques are particularly empowering before an interview: 

  • Breathing exercises: By focusing on slow, deep breaths, you can reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety and anchor your mind in the present moment.

  • Mindfulness meditation and labeling: By recognizing anxious thoughts, naming them, and letting them pass, you can stay focused on the present and reduce stress.

  • Guided visualization: Visualization can ease nerves by imaging the best-case-scenario, thereby instilling a sense of accomplishment as well as fostering a positive mindset and sense of calm.

  • Body scan meditation: Body scanning is an effective way to identify and alleviate physical manifestations of stress.

Calm down before your job interview

Beyond meditation, certain actions can further prepare you for interview success:

  • Power poses: Adopting poses that convey confidence, like standing with your hands on your hips or stretching your arms upward in a “V” shape, can actually increase feelings of self-assurance and decrease stress (even when you don’t feel confident).

  • Positive affirmations: Reciting affirmations can help shift your mindset from one of anxiety to one of confidence. Before your interview, consider repeating phrases to yourself such as “Every question is an opportunity to showcase my expertise and passion,” or “I am competent, skilled, and unique.”

  • Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR): This technique involves tightening and then relaxing different muscle groups. It's an effective way to reduce physical tension and help your mind focus.

Interview strategies you can apply tomorrow

Pre-interview routine

The day of the interview is your time to shine. Start with a calming morning routine and aim to arrive early—but not too early—to avoid additional stress. While waiting, focus on your breathing or engage in positive visualization to maintain your calm.

Post-interview reflection

Regardless of the outcome, it’s important to reflect on your interview experience. Some forms of meditation or journaling can help you consider what went well and what could be improved for future interviews.

To help guide your journaling, here are a couple of prompts for you to try:

  • Write about a moment when you felt particularly confident. What question were you answering, and how did you convey your strengths? 
  • Write about a moment you felt caught off guard. What could you have said instead, or how could you revise your preparation process to help you next time?  

Use Balance to learn coping skills for mental health

Whether you’re on the job hunt and interviewing frequently, or you just find yourself getting nervous when an interview is on your calendar, remember that it’s all about presenting your best self—and mindfulness and meditation can help you get there.

And for more resources to help you manage stress in your work life and beyond, consider downloading the Balance app. Balance offers a growing library of breathing exercises, guided meditations, guided visualization, productivity music, and more. It’ll help you more effectively breathe, visualize, and affirm your way to more calm and confidence in interviews. And it's totally free for your entire first year!

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