By Patrick Kozakiewicz and Vicki Flaherty
We have all been there, sitting anxiously in that chair, palms sweaty, mind racing, waiting to be called in for our big interview. As we think about what and what not to say – jumping from thoughts about our past interviews to thoughts about meeting the job requirements to thoughts about how awesome it would be to get the job – feelings move from anticipation, fear, and excitement to even overwhelming. Calm and awareness become distant concepts.
Mindfulness happens when we are truly in the present, being aware and in the here and now, being fully engaged and observing life from a slight distance, without mindlessly judging and immediately reacting to eternal or internal stimuli, whether they be thoughts, emotions or situations. It can be the foundation for successfully approaching any interview.
In particular, mindfulness can help with focus, stress-management, emotional intelligence and confidence. Research reveals that mindfulness assists with managing stress, enhancing performance, strengthening relationships, increasing well-being, and supporting quick decision making. All of these are crucial components during job interviews.
Of course, mindfulness alone will not secure that interview for you. Experience, skills and knowledge are all critical variables. Nonetheless, the benefits that mindfulness can have on you can also be reflected onto the interviewer(s), increasing your odds of success that much more. Try these mindfulness techniques for the preparation of your next interview and see if your notice any differences.
Mindfulness Techniques to try for your Next Interview
Create a checklist. Prepare for your interview by doing your research and setting clear intentions. Create a checklist with 3-4 points you want to bring into your interview – points that reflect your values, draw on your strengths, or describe the types of experiences you want to have. Finding the right job is not just about how well you fit the role but also how well the work environment will enable you to thrive. This is about focusing your attention in advance so that you show up with clarity about what’s important to you. You can use your list to draw relevant ideas into your interview answers. This combined with being well-equipped with information about the employer and rehearsing potential interview answers will be very beneficial for your success.
Breathe. At the heart of a successful interview is the ability to be relaxed. Mindful breathing really helps here. Take time to be breathe and find a sense of calm before the start of your interview. Anxiety and stress drive the blood flow away from our brains, preparing us for that flight or fight mode. Whereas focusing on breathing brings oxygen to our brains, allowing our cognitive abilities to function properly and for our checklist to not be forgotten.
Establish connection. Rather than trying to impress the interviewer(s) or focusing on your performance, focus on building a genuine respectful connection or rapport with the interviewer. This begins with the taking time to first connect with yourself. Should negative thoughts arise before, during, or after your interview, treat yourself with respect. Shift your thoughts to align with how you would speak to a best friend, with compassion and trust. Ensure positive thoughts, and this will build confidence in your connection. Your emotional and mental state will influence the connection you have with the interviewer(s), so be sure to nourish it.
Be confident. Landing a job interview is a big success in itself. So, first things first, CONGRATULATIONS! Remember to thank yourself and appreciate the fact that the employer saw something in you that impressed them. Being confident of who you are, your abilities and your determination shouts success. To help you feel and display confidence, smile and sit with a dignified and open posture.
For more on working and living more mindfully, visit our mindfulness series.
We hope you find these suggested mindfulness approaches useful for creating greater awareness in your life and work. Please feel free to add a comment below to let us know how you have got on.
 Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review Journal of Management January 1, 2016 42: 114-142
This content is co-authored by Patrick Kozakiewicz and Vicki Flaherty.
Patrick Kozakiewicz is certified to Interview the IBM Way. He is a Senior Business Compliance Professional and Mindfulness Coach @IBM Poland. He is a curious and passionate being who loves life, nature, people and food. You’ll find him on LinkedIn.
Vicki Flaherty is the Global Mindfulness@IBM Leader and helps IBMers lead with clarity, intention, and authenticity. You’ll find her on LinkedIn and Twitter and over at her Leading with Intention blog.
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