Navigating Interview Anxiety: A Therapeutic Toolkit for Immigrant Professionals

Jan 29, 2024

As an educated, professional immigrant, you will probably receive interview invitations for work or further education, and interviews are a crucial step in the journey toward your career. However, the pressure and anticipation associated with these interviews can lead to significant anxiety. In this blog, we will explore effective strategies from a few of my favourite therapeutic techniques to help you manage interview anxiety and enhance your overall well-being during this challenging process.


Mindfulness is a powerful technique that can be particularly beneficial in managing interview anxiety. It involves being fully present in the moment and observing thoughts and emotions without judgment. Although mindfulness seems to be a bit of a fad or 'woo woo' to some people, I feel it is an important practice in our daily lives as there are many benefits. Here are some interesting benefits:

Reduces Anticipatory Anxiety/Improves Focus and Concentration

Mindfulness helps bring your focus to the present moment rather than dwelling on potential future outcomes. By staying grounded in the now, you can reduce the anxiety associated with anticipating the interview while you are preparing for the interview and acting in your everyday life. Practicing mindfulness regularly can enhance your ability to concentrate, which is crucial during interviews. Improved focus allows you to listen attentively, respond thoughtfully, and stay engaged in the conversation.

Enhances Self-Awareness/Acceptance and Compassion

Through mindfulness, you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. This self-awareness allows you to identify anxious thoughts as they arise and choose how to respond to them. Accepting your anxiety as a natural part of the human experience rather than labelling it as good or bad can lead to a more compassionate and gentle approach to yourself during moments of stress. 

Promotes Relaxation/Build Resilience

Mindfulness often involves relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and body scans. These practices can activate the body's relaxation response, calming the nervous system and reducing overall stress levels. This physical relaxation can positively impact your emotional state, making you more resilient to anxiety. Moreover, when faced with anxiety-provoking situations like interviews, individuals who practice mindfulness are often better equipped to navigate stress and recover more quickly from setbacks, building resiliency for future challenges.

Mindfulness Techniques

Some of my favourite mindfulness techniques include:

Mindful Breathing: Five-Finger Breathing and Box Breathing 

Meditation: Body Scan Meditation, Loving-Kindness Meditation and Guided Meditation

Mindful Eating, Walking (or other daily activities), and Observing

Value and Strength-based Cognitive Restructuring

Value and strength-based cognitive restructuring involves shifting your focus from negative or self-critical thoughts to thoughts that align with your core values and strengths. Some people misinterpret this as just thinking positive thoughts, but if we are pressing ourselves to focus on thoughts that we may not necessarily 'buy', then it is unlikely that we can shift our thoughts and reap their benefits. Personally, find thoughts that align with my values and strengths tend to 'stick' the most. The following are my techniques for restructuring my thoughts when preparing for an interview.

Identify Negative Thoughts/Feelings and Anticipate the Consequences

Use mindfulness to be aware of your feelings. Are you nervous? Worried? Dreadful? Why? Do you think you will mess up the interview? What if you mess up the interview? What does it mean to you? How will these thoughts and feelings impact your preparation for or performance during the interview, and how will that impact the outcome? Dig deep and figure out the thoughts/feelings that may hinder your preparation and performance.

Identify Your Values and Strengths

Reflect on your past and reminisce on the times that you were the happiest, proudest, and most satisfied and fulfilled. Why are these experiences so profound and memorable? If you cannot find the words to articulate your values, there are many lists of values on the internet. My favourite is the "List of Values" in "Dare to Lead" by Brene Brown. Then, discover how your values relate to your career and personal development. Why are you pursuing this position? How will this job or education serve you and your family?

Next, reflect on your strengths. What are your education and experience? What are some skills that come naturally to you? How have they benefited you before and how will they benefit you in the future? How will your strengths contribute to this position?

Challenge and Reframe Your Thoughts 

Now that you have identified your values and strengths, how can you think about your interview or the position differently? As someone who often has "all-or-nothing" thinking, rather than thinking, "I am going to blow this interview. If I don't get this job, then I will have no money, and we are going to be homeless," I may challenge this thought, by asking myself, do you really have no money? Even if you have no money, are you really going to be homeless? What other resources do I have? Who can I rely on if that happens? And if this is not true, how can I change my thoughts based on my values and strengths? I really value being genuine and authentic, and my ability to connect and help others. Rather than thinking, "I will blow it," I would choose to think, "I had some fantastic interviews before, and I have pretty good interpersonal skills and people seem to like me, maybe we will have a good conversation that will lead to a job or that will help me grow my network."

Create and Practice Affirmations

Based on my new thoughts, I would create and practice positive affirmations to remind myself of my values and strengths and foster a more positive mindset, such as "I am personable and well-prepared for the interview," and write that on the whiteboard by my desk to remind myself that as I continue to prepare for my interview. 

Seek Support and Interpersonal Effectiveness

As they say, "No man is an island." Hence, it is important to be aware when you need support from your family and friends. You may alleviate your stress by listening to your concerns, assisting you with your interview preparation, and/or helping you reframe your thoughts and create positive affirmations.

You may also use your interpersonal skills to effectively communicate and foster interpersonal relationships during the interview. Use your active listening and thoughtful questioning skills. Express yourself clearly through verbal and nonverbal communication and adjust your communication style to suit the interviewers. Anticipate the possibility of receiving constructive criticism and practice mindfulness to stay present and manage anxiety. A more relaxed atmosphere can help you build rapport and connect with the interviewers.

Taking Charge of Interview Success

I hope by integrating these strategies, you can effectively manage interview anxiety. Remember, it's normal to feel nervous. But with the right tools and mindset, you can approach the interview process with confidence and resilience. To navigate interview anxiety and other stress related to pursuing a career after migrating to Canada, consider booking an individual counselling session for personalized support, connecting with our community by sharing your experiences on our social media platforms, staying informed about additional resources and updates by subscribing to our newsletter, and contact us if you require any additional support. I hope you embrace the opportunity for personal and professional growth in this process, recognizing that each step brings you closer to achieving your career goals.