Self-Talk Before an Interview


Interviews can be stressful. They are worse if you are worrying about your clothes, your fit for the job or how you’ll answer questions. As a result, I suggest you practice refocusing your thoughts in the 30 minutes before the interview and do some positive self-talk.

Here are my favorites; they work for me but you are welcome to adjust them to fit your own style and needs. The only rule is that you must be kind and gentle to yourself.

1. I’m looking forward to learning more about this job.

This self talk statement reminds you that an interview is a conversation. You are finding out about the job and the interviewer is finding out about you. It’s an exchange. This sentence will remind you to ask questions about the many exciting opportunities that this job will give. Reflecting on my own work, there have been times when I felt that assignments were electrifying; they were so exciting and thrilling. Imagine that the job you are learning about will have elements filled withelectrifying possibilities.

2. I am powerful in this situation.

This self talk statement should remind you that you bring value to the conversation. Your skills, education and experience are worthwhile and that’s why you are here. You have the power to describe how you can help the organization. You have the power to tell them in detail how you can contribute. That’s your role. Like Katy Perry sings, “I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.”

3. I have prepared enough.

You can use this statement if you actually have:

-considered and practiced answers to a few of the usual questions

-checked out the company website and Googled the company name

-dressed appropriately and brought a spare resume plus your reference list

When you’ve done these things, you are ready. Take a moment and revel in your own preparedness. Like any accomplishment, it feels good to celebrate a success. I’m always delighted when I finish cleaning my house just before my dinner guests arrive; it’s the same thrill.

4. The interviewers want to know about me; they are going to listen closely and they are going to ask me interesting questions.

Interviewers like to hear specific details, ideally in story form. You have to get to the point quickly but telling a narrative has its own kind of peaceful rhythm. Hopefully, you have practiced describing your relevant accomplishments a few times. Hopefully, you describe a problem-action-result scenario in which your work caused a positive change.

5. This is going to be enjoyable.

Are you going to get the job? Maybe, but lots of things are outside your control. You have no idea about the competition, for one thing. You don’t know which of the employer’s needs is highest priority. This may be a soft, gentle interview. This may be one where you are grilled and challenged and pushed to be your strongest, debater self. Both styles can be fun as long as you remember that this is just an interview. If you are asked negative, challenging questions, accept that you are being welcomed to defend yourself. Rise to the challenge positively; in the near future, you might be defending the interviewer’s organization.

Interviews are great learning opportunities, particularly about yourself. Sadly, interviews tend to happen less and less as you age, partly because you end up in particular jobs for longer times and partly because interviews become meetings if you pursue self-employment. You even start to miss interviews when they’re gone.

Gwen PawlikowskiAbout the Author:
Gwen Pawlikowski is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who has also worked as an ISSofBC employment counsellor with newcomers. She lives in New Westminster and loves the diversity of the Lower Mainland. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.


15 thoughts on “Self-Talk Before an Interview”

  1. I have never needed a résumé, and I have never faced a job interview. But this is the past…now, my situation is different. I am a newcomer, in a new society where nobody knows me, my values and my potential. I have to start from the beginning: a new life, and – consequently – a new career, a new job.
    Besides preparing my résumé and my reference letters, these tips are going to be useful for my first interview.

  2. This is a very well written article. The author approach is very helpful for newcomers. Some os these tips are related to behavior factors which can make the difference on the interviewers’ decision.
    The most you are focused and calm before and during the interview could help you to be hired. Some technical positions the behavior factor could be a less important than an exam or probation or a certificate as well.
    I strongly believe that soft skills work well here in Canada. Interviewers want people that they can trust as a person and also as a professional.

  3. These five tips are easy to understand and useful and try to lighten the interview stress. Prepare well before your interview also can help you show your confidence. Although there would be many unpredictable question or situation that you can’t prepare all before interview. Self-talk and keeping practice will be the only useful criterion and there are other useful methods help people deal with interview website. Choose some methods that suit for yourself and then feel confident when you walk into a interview.

  4. Being interviewed is stressful, especially for a beginner like me. This is actually a very useful tip in preparation for an interview. Having a self talk before the interview may boost confidence for the actual conversation. I should try this in the future.

  5. In general, all these thoughts are helpful. There are also many videos online to help interviewees to do well in an interview.Although many questions that interviewers might ask are very similar, you have to answer these questions well. This is the easiest part of an interview. As to those unpredictable questions, just enjoy it and learn a lesson from it. It will become a valuable experience for yourself.

  6. Interviewing for a job can make you feel really nervous. You, as a rule, feel not very comfortable “selling” yourself and answering unexpected questions. However, interviewing is something that you can learn, prepare for and be very successful in.
    Gwen Pawlikowski provided nice advice and observations in her article “Self-Talk Before an Interview” that were based on her own experience. I agree with all positions, but can add some more that are valuable and important for me.
    First, for being less stressful, remember that you can share the floor during interview. That means, you can ask questions to potential employers as well.
    Second, show your emotional intelligence. It is some kind of ability to identify, use, understand and manage emotions in positive ways to communicate effectively. It helps to empathize with others and make interview less stressful.
    Third, you have just to be prepared for the interview (gather information about the company, try to direct your skills, experience to channel the job opportunity entails). And don’t forget about eye contact.
    The better prepared you are, the more comfortable and assured you will feel when the questions start.

  7. Thanks Gwen Pawlikowski for her useful statement. She tells us some good ways to reduce pressure and get confidence before an interview.
    As she mentioned, If you remind yourself that “they work for me but you are welcome to adjust them to fit your own style and needs”, I don’t think you will be nervous because it is so strong and powerful thinking. Of course, be prepared is the root of your confidence. Preparing carefully and practicing well are the basic work you should do. Those are the key points and supports to approach your successful interview.
    This is amazing that to think of an interview as a good opportunity to learn and make it interesting. Exactly, if you could make up your mind on learning, you would feel more curious instead of nervous. If you could find interesting thing in it, you would be more excited not scared. If you could do so, you would control your interviews and your future.
    This is a worthy and constructive article for interviewees. I will take those suggestions in my future interviews.
    Thanks again

  8. I must admit I have a lot of experience in job interviews. Still, an interview is a forced situation where as candidates we feel that we are under the spot, we are being tested. Something needs to be proved, and what is exactly that?
    Personally, I believe that there are a lot of people that can have the skills for a job. But, the employer sometimes is looking for a personality to match with the role, the cultural organization, etc.
    I find it very useful to have ‘these conversations’ with myself through the mirror before having an interview. Sometimes I even write down phrases that I NEED to say before the job interview is finished. Those work as my own goals. I have to say them at the interview no matter what.
    There is also a book that I discover which can be useful: BOOST YOUR INTERVIEW IQ.
    It is good specially to face those behavioral questions as opposite to traditional questions. Nowadays, recruiters ask behavioral questions and if you do not come up with an answer in a proper manner, it can be really tricky. Some candidates go speechless. It is easy buy you can train yourself to feel at ease.
    For instance:
    -TRADITIONAL QUESTION: “What would you do if you had to deal with an angry customer?

  9. I think this method is generally useful and may help you to find a job. I had one time experience of interviewing in my life and it was in Canada and I found you can keep calm and away of stress if you ask one or two simple questions. Maybe the best way to have a good interview is real practicing so dont scare, go thru various interview sessions it doesn’t matter you will be accepted or not, you will learn how to manage an interview.

  10. I agree with the Self-Talk statements by author Gwen Pawlikowski.
    Even though I haven’t had an interview in Canada I remember from being interviewed in Germany there are feelings of excitement, nervousness, pressure, physical tension and sweaty hands. I can’t prepare for every situation but as with everything in life practice will improve interview skills and inform myself can take away some of the uncomfortable feelings beforehand.

    Two things I would like to add to the list of statements:
    1. Always be yourself. The potential employer wants to see you and not someone else you’re pretending to be.
    2. Make sure you ask a lot of questions. This interview is helpful not only for the person who is interviewing. You want to find out if this is the right place to work for YOU.

  11. It was a good and useful article, but most of the points are very clear and understandable and everybody is able to find those points unconsciously. For a long time in my career , actually more than 20 years , I personally haven’t faced such experience, as I am in the opposite side. Last paragraph was interesting for me where she said :”You even start to miss interviews when they’re gone.”

  12. In 99% of the interviews I’ve had, the interviewers had a list of interview questions and just took turn reading out the questions. While I was answering the questions, they wrote down my answers and then moved onto the next questions. My problem is that I have no idea and skills to make this mechanical Q&A interviews to enjoyable conversations.

  13. It is a good way for us to prepare the interview for finding a job. It make us fell confident when we have a interview.

  14. I found your post very useful and interesting Gwen. I haven’t thought before about having this talk with myself. I think it is a lot common to be quite the opposite, be our harshest critic and most of the times this plays against us. Also, thinking about an interview in a more relaxed approach could really make the difference, because, what good would it be in attending an interview nervous and anxious?

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