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September 7, 2022, by Leah Sharpe

Managing Interview Stress With Mindfulness Meditation

By Maisy Sheldon, Biotechnology with Industrial Year student

Sweaty palms, elevated heart rate, racing thoughts, and the inability to focus are common symptoms of interview stress and anxiety. For those who have limited or no interviewing experience, preparing for and doing an interview may be nerve-racking. Interviews are uncomfortable and one of the most difficult parts of a job application process, but they are also a great learning curve.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of interview stress and practising mindful meditation beforehand can help manage these overwhelming feelings. I practised mindfulness meditation a few weeks before my interview to help me. You can start weeks, months or even hours before the interview. Personally, I find the more you practise, the more useful it becomes. I hope you also find this stress management technique useful.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a useful technique to help combat the behaviours listed above and also help calm your nerves on the day, enabling you to be successful. Some nerves are a good thing, and this practise can help use the nerves in a positive way by channelling the energy into a form of adrenalin, helping you to focus, be aware and perform well. Furthermore, meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind and during this, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress.

How does this help in an interview?

In an interview setting this will allow you to focus on what has been asked and how you are going to answer the questions effectively and with confidence. Remember, interviews are about selling yourself (not in a boastful way) so being able to focus on answering the question in detail and giving thoughtful examples, is a great step to success.

What it involves and how it works

Specifically, mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness meditation involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind in order to help reduce stress. As well as this, it can strengthen areas of your brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and self-awareness.

How does this help in an interview?

All these outcomes are exactly what is necessary to help us in a situation such as an interview, where our brain has a tendency to go into overdrive.

Self-awareness is important so that you are aware of how you are coming across and judging how the interview is going subconsciously.

Having a better memory is an obvious bonus as you can rehearse stock-answers that you may be prepared for and they are more likely to just roll off the tongue if you have remembered them.

Help calm down your sympathetic nervous system – perfect before an interview when the nerves are kicking in. Research has shown that mindfulness helps us reduce anxiety and depression and teaches us how to respond to stress with awareness rather than panicking and starting to overthink.

Regular mindfulness meditation in the run-up to an interview will almost certainly help with interview nerves and help you perform better on the big day. Mindfulness techniques can be used right up until the moment you are sitting in the interview chair (or join the zoom call) and therefore the more you practise, the easier it will be to do, and the more you’ll feel the benefits.

Try it for yourself

I performed mindfulness meditation by precisely focusing on my breathing at regular intervals throughout the day. Here’s what worked for me:

1. Draw your attention to your inhale and exhale rhythm whilst either standing up or lying down if you can.

2. Take a deep breath (inhale) through your nose for 3 seconds, hold the breath for 2 seconds and then long exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.

3. Observe each breath without trying to adjust it and focus on the rise and fall of your chest. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breathing.

4. Repeat for 5 – 10 minutes or until you feel the calming effects.

How do you feel?

If you feel like aspects of your career journey are causing you stress or anxiety, explore the career wellbeing support and resources on our website. Or you can chat it through with one our team.

Posted in Career wellbeingInterviews