How to Beat Your Job Interview Anxiety in Five Minutes

July 5, 2017

10:50 am

Getting a job often seems harder than actually working with one. Once you finally get your resume past the ATS gauntlet, there’s still one major task ahead: the interview process. For plenty of job-seekers, nagging worries about punitive bosses or an impossible interview question can easily evolve into a full-blown case of job interview anxiety. You’ll stutter and stumble your way through your answers, forget your research notes, and leave lengthy silences. In a job interview, first impressions matter.

The worst part? You jinxed yourself. If you had started the interview with a little more confidence, you’d be strolling into your new workspace next Monday. Here’s a quick exercise you can learn in order to start your interview in the right frame of mind to nail it.

Breathe in Like You’re Inflating a Balloon

Start by inhaling for about five seconds. Controlling your breathing habits is key to calming yourself. But you need to go slow, and the trick to finding the right speed is to imagine that you’re inflating a balloon inside of your chest.

Pick a point in the center of your sternum and focus on it. That can be the center of your balloon. Slowly inflate it until your lungs are full. Now hold that breath and move on the second step.

Picture Something Joyful Before You Breathe Out

This might sound a little counterintuitive, but trying to think calm thoughts isn’t the best way to actual calm yourself. You can’t fight negative emotions with the absence of those emotions. You need to fill the void with something stronger, and the most heavy-duty positive emotion out there is joy.

Picture cuddling an adorable puppy or hugging a family member. Maybe think of a joyful moment in your life, like Christmas morning or the last time you had a job. (Kidding! That last one’s probably not a calming thought when it comes to your current job interview anxiety.) Then, once you’ve imagined the joyful scene for a moment, slowly breathe out.

Repeat

Go through this process ten or twenty times. It’ll feel like forever, but you’ll probably finish well within five minutes.

Consider how you feel. That job interview anxiety might flow right back to you when you remember that you’re about to start the interview. If so, try taking a few more breaths. There’s no limit to how long or how often you can do this exercise. I’ve tried it the night before, an hour before, and just ten minutes before the interview starts. You can even try it while sitting in the interview chair itself: No one’s going to complain that you’re breathing too deeply, and you’re not going to be doing anything else productive by then anyway.

Don’t forget to prep for your job interview in addition to trying your calming exercises! Being well-prepared is the best way to stay calm. And consider hugging your puppy while you’re at it. It’s hard to beat the real thing.

Read more about being a healthy entrepreneur on TechCo

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He’s based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state’s slogan: “sayWA.” In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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