As you pack away your swimsuits, pull out your favorite pieces of flannel and begin to make space in your closet for your winter boots, two things may come to mind: 1) you are about to be bombarded by a flood of ads for Pumpkin Spice Lattes and 2) job interview season is upon us. During law school, the beginning of Fall simply meant it was time to begin stressing about: classes, interview callbacks or the lack thereof and doubling down on the job search. Doubling down on my job search meant that I had to strategically juggle my new class schedule between rushing to interviews, my off-campus externship and moot court practice. This vicious cycle which was consistently marred by the anxiety of not receiving a job offer, made my Fall semester stressful to say the least. Chances are, if you’re a 2L or 3L without a permanent job offer, you may be experiencing some of what I just described.
Fall semester stress is an inevitable by-product of this interview heavy season. Sadly, I wish there were a magical means through which to zap this angst away. However, until a genie grants you your three wishes, how about trying these five mindful tips to get your anxiety in check and prepare for all the interviews coming your way?
Assess your Career Interests and Be Honest About Interview Prospects
A lot of interview anxiety may stem from spreading yourself too thin and having to participate in way more interviews than your time and mental sanity can accommodate. I do understand that a popular job search strategy is to pretty much apply to any opportunity that comes before you regardless of interest. I mean the goal is to get a job right? But at what cost?
I recommend assessing your career interests carefully beforehand. At least try to put in place a loose list of practice areas but a more restricted list of practice locations. Flying to New York, Boston or DC for interviews then trying to make it back in time for your 5pm Contracts class in Florida is just not sustainable. Put together an honest list, stick to it and reclaim some of your time.
Incorporate Mindful Practices into Your Daily Schedule
Mindful practices such as yoga, meditation or simply breathing, are excellent ways to control and limit your anxiety. These practices allow you to separate yourself from stressful factors even when facing them head on. Therefore, by incorporating them into your daily schedule, they become almost second nature and easier to access when you begin to fixate on the negative possibilities of not receiving a job offer.
Use Meditation to Calm your Nerves Before and During an Interview
Before an interview, there’s no doubt that you will be riddled with nerves. A useful tip is to utilize meditation techniques before you walk into an interview and even during the interview session. This will help to calm your nerves in a major way before the interview and possibly keep your thoughts on track during the session. I recommend downloading apps such as Headspace or Calm and take advantage of their guided meditation sessions. I’ve actually used both and can attest to their effectiveness. Before your interview, try to get to the location early and complete at least one guided meditation beforehand.
As for meditating during the interview, this will be a bit tricky. I don’t recommend whipping out your cellphone to play a meditation session during questioning. However, I do recommend that you “remember your breath” throughout the interview. Using effective breathing, will undoubtedly calm you which can help to organize your thoughts and keep you on track. You can also use essential oils and apply them to your pressure points before the interview. As you complete your breathing technique during the interview, smelling these oils can also be helpful.
Drink Tea and Ditch the Coffee
Ok I know that this will likely be the toughest tip to incorporate, but I strongly recommend drinking more tea and ditching the coffee during this season. Yes, coffee helps to emit energy and is likely what you primarily ingest during this time, but the jittery effect it can have on our body tends to worsen anxiety and could also cause an anxiety attack.
I recommend drinking more tea and resting as an alternative energy source. Caffeinated teas such as green tea and black tea also do wonders in providing energy. However, unlike coffee, tea provides a more smooth and stable energy boost which is just what you need during this time.
Be Candid with your Career Mentor and Talk Through your Anxieties
Finally, don’t forget to speak with your career mentor during this difficult time. A lot of job search anxieties simply stem from the unknown. Be very candid with your mentor about the fears you have surrounding your job search and about the limitations that you feel may prevent you from moving forward.
During interview season, I recall confiding in my mentor about my anxieties around not hearing back from firms I interviewed with. My mentor was able to calm my nerves as she knew firsthand about the average response time frames of some of these firms and knowing that I was still within the time frame for some of them, was helpful. Remember that your mentor knows a lot more about this process, so take advantage of this knowledge and confide in them.
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