How to Calm Down & Reduce Stress Before a Job Interview

You have picked the right outfit, practiced your answers, and readied yourself but you’re not calm.

Before you take the leap and go to the interview, practice a few strategies to reduce stress.

Be ready to succeed in your power play!

Consider these mental, environmental, and physical ways of relieving stress:

Job Interview Mental Stress Management Techniques

  1. Use visual imagery to reduce stress.  

Close your eyes and imagine a scene, place or event (real or imaginary) that is peaceful, serene, happy, and/or beautiful. Try to incorporate all your senses into the image – what you can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.

You can also imagine the interview going well, walking through it step by step to improve your confidence and reduce your stress. The mind cannot differentiate between real and imaginary so what you feed it is accepted as truth.

  2. Persuade yourself with positive, rational thinking.  

Observe your thoughts and write down every time you have a negative thought for a few days. Once you are aware of your negative thoughts, take an honest look at them to see if they have any basis in reality.

Frequently, when you challenge a negative thought, it will lose power or disappear.

You can also replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Make yourself a list of positive things to say to yourself each morning and evening. Post it on the bathroom mirror and say them aloud. Try to repeat throughout the day whenever possible.

Habits don’t happen immediately (experts say it takes 60 days to make it a habit) so be patient with yourself. Repetition is the answer!

Environmental Stress Management Methods

  3. Reduce the importance of the event in your mind.  

Reframe your mental picture of the event. Instead of viewing it as an all-important interview, think of it as an exciting chance to meet new people and expand your network. You never know what will happen!

Or, compare it to something else in the past that you have done that felt as big and important. Remind yourself that this will not be the first or the last opportunity of this kind that you encounter.

  4. Reduce uncertainties.  

Ask questions when you schedule the interview (how many interviewers, names and titles of the interviewers, for example), and then research to learn all you can to feel more prepared.

  5. Listen to music or relaxation apps to calm yourself.  

On your way to the interview, listen to music that is calming for you. As you sit in the waiting room, listen to that music or to a smartphone app like Calm, but use only one earbud in the waiting room before the interview.

Best, of course, not to listen to the relaxation app if you are driving, but the app may be very soothing on public transit as long as you do not miss your stop.

Physical Stress Management Methods

  6.Use Progressive Muscular Relaxation.  

Squeeze a group of muscles, hold for a few seconds and then relax the muscles as much as possible. This can relieve the tense feeling and is particularly effective when combined with deep breathing and visual imagery.

  7.Perform slow, deep breathing.  

As you sit in the waiting room, breathe slowly and deeply — in through your nose and out through your mouth. Concentrate on doing this at least four times.

The Bottom Line on How to Reduce Stress Before an Interview

Whatever you do, be kind to yourself during this process. Remember that change does not happen overnight and practice makes perfect. Take a deep breath, put a smile on your face, and meet that interview head-on!

More About Job Interviews

Laura DecarloAbout the author…

Laura DeCarlo is recognized as the career industry’s ‘career hero’ making a difference to both job seekers and career professionals as the founder of Career Directors International. She possesses 11 top-level certifications in resume writing, career coaching, and career management; 7 first place resume and job placement awards; and has written three books on interviewing and job search including Interview Pocket RX, Interviewing: The Gold Standard, Resumes for Dummies,and Job Search Bloopers. Follow Laura on Twitter at @careerhero.
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