You’ve secured a graduate job interview, got stuck-in to the preparation and research, but what happens when all the groundwork is done? Nervousness the night before, along with the gnawing feelings and racing thoughts can be hard to shake, so here are some tips and advice to help you relax before your next graduate job interview.
Check in with yourself
Expecting and experiencing anxiety before an interview is completely normal. Many people think they shouldn’t be nervous or anxious, so when they are, they think they’re doing something wrong, which can make the anxious feelings worse.
By acknowledging your feelings and experiences - without critical judgement - you reinforce the message to yourself that it’s okay to be where you are. Self-acceptance can lead to greater feelings of peace, calm, and confidence.
When you’re in the grip of a particular fear, worry or anxiety, ask yourself two questions:
- “Is it really true?” Remind yourself that thoughts aren’t necessarily facts, and that they are transient. Thoughts are like the weather, passing through and changing all the time, so you don’t have to take them so seriously, or become attached to them.
- “Am I okay right now?” Often, anxiety stems from worry about the future, so it’s helpful to deliberately focus on what’s happening in the present.
Shift into taking deep, relaxed breaths
If you’re caught in a swirl of anxious thoughts, move your attention to something physical, like deep relaxing breaths. This can shift yourself out of the mental loop that perpetuates the anxious feelings, calming your nerves.
How to do it
For a few minutes focus on taking deep, calming breaths. Intentionally inhale slowly and deeply into your belly as you expand your lungs. Then without any effort, exhale naturally. Many people feel relief from anxiety after just a few minutes.
Scan and Release
When we’re anxious we tend to tighten up our muscles without realizing it, which can leave us feeling exhausted. Intentionally relaxing your muscles can turn on the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), also known as “rest and digest”, which helps to calm you down.
How to do it
Scan your body starting with your head. Notice your forehead and eyebrows. Are they scrunched? Notice your teeth lips, and jaw. Are they clenched? Intentionally relax all of the muscles in your face. Scanning down to your neck and shoulders, release any tension you may be holding in this area. Move to your arms and hands, and your chest and belly. See if you can relax all of the muscles there. Finally, scan down to your legs and feet and release any tension you may feel. And for a few minutes, allow your body to be loose and relaxed.
Pause and Take Three
Before walking through the door, pause for a moment to take three breaths and set a positive attitude.
How to do it
Take 3 deep breaths. On the first breath, relax your face. On the second breath relax your body. On the third breath think of the person (or people) you are about to meet and say in your mind “May you feel ease, confidence, and enjoy positive experiences.”
The Stop, Breathe & Think app can help you with all of the above process. The app allows you to check in with how you are doing (mentally, physically, and emotionally) and then suggest meditations that will reinforce the positive, or help you get some space and perspective when you are working through challenges, such as pre-interview jitters.