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The interview advice I couldn’t find online

And prepared me for the job of a lifetime

Photo: Natasha Gerschon

I was in the Uber taking deep breaths to calm my nerves, reviewing my notes for the final time and internalizing my mantra when the driver said: “Life is beautiful? Yes, or no?”. In the spirit of the day ahead and its potential to impact my future, I couldn’t help but answer “yes!”. He was happy to hear it and he continued speaking reminding me that “life is good; you have to see it that way”. If there were ever a sign this was it; I knew my interview was bound to be a game-changer.

I like to believe karma was at play in the car that morning as I had dedicated my whole self to preparing for this day. I had pressed pause on my side projects, removed all sources of interruption (Cooper, I’m looking at you) and shifted gears into survival mode. It had been a long time not only since I had interviewed, but since I had wanted something this much. It was all or nothing and I was all in.

I immediately felt like I had taken on too much with it also being the holiday season but there was only one option: to keep persevering. My nerves and anxiety were at an ultimate high and I knew that I was going to have to take a different approach. I did all the usual things like researching the company and its services, making notes of my experience and achievements, recording myself delivering answers to interview questions… but along the way I discovered that there were other methods that would help me to calm my nerves and clear my mind; and they weren’t ideas you would find in the typical “how to prepare for an interview” guide.

I started with meditation. Thanks to a brief introduction and guidance from Headspace, I set aside the first 10 minutes of everyday to sit in my living room and breathe. As an amateur, I struggled to let my thoughts go and to find focus. But with every distracting thought, I took another breath and started again. Mastering meditation could very well be beyond my reach but I was amazed how such a small time commitment could reap such rewards. I found my mind was still clear in the middle of the afternoon when it usually turned to mush and when I finished work for the day, I could still find the energy to work on preparing. Most importantly, on the day of the interview, I found myself consciously taking deep breaths when there was a break in the conversation and as I exhaled, I felt all of my anxiety go with it.

Next, I wrote myself a mantra to stay focused, positive and confident as I went through the process. I would change it up every now and then as things progressed, but it sounded something like this: You are strong, You are smart, You are capable, You will be successful. I even repeated it to myself during my bathroom breaks during the day-long interview. This may be crossing into “woo-woo” territory for some, but believe me when I say the power of positivity can be phenomenal. It can quiet the noise in your head and lift you up to achieve what you thought was impossible. For me, it sent me into the interview calm, confident and poised.

When you think about it, I spent years preparing for that interview. However, all those years of work and life experience did not teach me how to manage my mind. By finding a way to focus my energy I was not only better prepared for the interview, I was in a better mindset during my interview. And though I would like to credit my success to the lessons learned above, I can’t help but also thank that Uber driver for sending me good vibes that fateful morning. After all, life is beautiful and taking a deep breath combined with a positive outlook will definitely help you to see it that way.

How do you prepare for interviews? Does this blog post help?

If you want to read more, visit me at www.kirstenschmidtke.com!

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