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Don’t Let Interview Blues Get To You

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Don’t Let Interview Blues Get To You: A Business Coach Boston Can Help

Epictetus, a Greek Philosopher, once said “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

For many of you who have been interviewing for jobs, this quote cannot be more important to remember as you try to deal with the rollercoaster of emotions around your job hunt. Many job sites and application requests you to type your resume details, despite them receiving your resume.  Many employers now require you to write customized cover letters or answer specific questions, as well as take skills and personality tests. Not to mention the time job seekers devote to multiple interview requests.  A Business Coach Boston who specializes in helping business owners manage work-related stress can help.

The Job Search Process Is Stressful

Job seekers have been participating in virtual as well as in-person interviews to find a job in the new year. The holidays and new year are a particularly stressful time for those looking for work because when speaking with family and friends they may feel at a loss, and a failure when it comes to the question, “how is the job search going?”

Employers Use Many Factors When Determining The Best Fit

One thing those job seekers should know is that there are many factors that go into whether an employer hires someone and that includes the qualifications of the other candidates who applied for the same job. And in many cases, internal candidates are used to fill open positions.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

However, many job seekers mentally beat themselves up and take it personally when they are not selected for a role. It can hurt even more if you have had multiple interviews and don’t end up getting the job. And many people ruminate over what they could have said or done differently in the interviews. In some cases, there might have been something they could have done or said differently in the interview to be selected. However, in many instances, a more qualified candidate was selected.

There is usually no way to tell why you were not selected and most people just get a polite email saying that although they were impressed with your qualifications, they selected another candidate. Some of my clients who did get phone calls from HR, have asked the recruiter or HR Director why they didn’t get the job or what they could have done to improve their chances. But that typically doesn’t yield much useful information.

Manage Negative Thoughts With Cognitive Diffusion

As a Business Coach Boston who specializes in helping business owners manage work-related stress I help by teaching my coaching clients some techniques that allow them to manage negative thoughts.  One technique I use is derived from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  In ACT there is a practice called “cognitive defusion,” which is the willingness to let go of the negative thoughts that cause suffering.  It helps to eliminate any negative thoughts and emotions by allowing them to come and then letting them go.

Cognitive Diffusion-You Are Not Your Thoughts

The first step is to recognize that you are the observer of your thoughts, not the thoughts themselves.  Doing this will help you begin to free yourself from these thoughts, which, in turn, will reduce your unnecessary emotional suffering.  Rather than choosing to become “caught up” in negative thinking to the point where you lose perspective, begin to let go of your attachment to that negative thinking. Here is one way you can choose how you react to your negative thoughts.

Cognitive Defusion Exercise

Russ Harris, in his book (2009) ACT Made Simple, he provides a simple cognitive defusion exercise which is used in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. It is called “Leaves On a Stream.”

“Leaves on a Stream” Exercise

(1) Sit in a comfortable position and either close your eyes or rest them gently on a fixed spot in the room.

(2) Visualize yourself sitting beside a gently flowing stream with leaves floating along the surface of the water. Pause 10 seconds.

(3) For the next few minutes, take each thought that enters your mind and place it on a leaf.. let it float by.  Do this with each thought – pleasurable, painful, or neutral.  Even if you have joyous or enthusiastic thoughts, place them on a leaf and let them float by.

(4) If your thoughts momentarily stop, continue to watch the stream.  Sooner or later, your thoughts will start up again.  Pause 20 seconds.

(5) Allow the stream to flow at its own pace.  Don’t try to speed it up and rush your thoughts along.  You’re not trying to rush the leaves along or “get rid” of your thoughts.  You are allowing them to come and go at their own pace.

(6) If your mind says “This is dumb,” “I’m bored,” or “I’m not doing this right” place those thoughts on leaves, too, and let them pass.  Pause 20 seconds.

(7) If a leaf gets stuck, allow it to hang around until it’s ready to float by.  If the thought comes up again, watch it float by another time.  Pause 20 seconds.

(8) If a difficult or painful feeling arises, simply acknowledge it.  Say to yourself, “I notice myself having a feeling of boredom/impatience/frustration.”  Place those thoughts on leaves and allow them float along.

(9) From time to time, your thoughts may hook you and distract you from being fully present in this exercise. This is normal.  As soon as you realize that you have become sidetracked, gently bring your attention back to the visualization exercise.

Using this exercise will help you get rid of negative thoughts. It also helps to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, one of my clients ruminates over what she could have done differently in the interviews after not being offered jobs. I tell all my clients -it doesn’t help to ruminate over the situation. It can be helpful to practice for interviews and to review your interview responses with a coach. However, ultimately, you need to use your energy to get back to applying for more jobs and networking. To do that, you must have a forward-thinking, positive mindset and a hopeful attitude.


Manage Work-Related Stress: Practice Self Compassion

As a Business Coach Boston who specializes in helping business owners manage work-related stress, I also teach self-compassion. Practicing self-compassion can be a powerful tool for building a positive relationship with yourself.

Instead of beating yourself up, as many job seekers do, try taking a step back and acknowledging that your inner critic is, in a counterproductive way, trying to keep you safe by warning you of the potential danger that it perceives. In the future, when self-criticism feels overwhelming, you might try thanking your self-criticism for its efforts to try to keep you safe, and then trying out some strategies for giving yourself compassion instead of beating yourself up. By doing this, you are showing compassion to your inner critic.


Deal With Unhelpful Thoughts: The 2 Column Exercise

The two-column exercise is a great way to start dealing with your unhelpful thoughts.

Begin by getting a piece of paper and creating two columns. On the left-hand side, write out all your current negative or unhelpful thoughts. Write down as many as you can and put quotation marks around each of them to indicate they are, in fact, just thoughts.

In the right-hand column, write between one and three counterarguments. This can help you get some distance from the part of the mind, or inner critic, coming up with the automatic thoughts, and “You” observing those thoughts and doing the work to manage these thoughts. One example of a negative thought many of my coaching clients face is: “I am never going to find a job.” Some good counters to that are: “Who can I meet/network with to get my foot in the door of a company where I’d like to work?” Another one might be: “What class/workshop can I take to make my resume more relevant to the position I am applying? And “What kind of support can I get to help me better navigate what I need to do or say to impress the hiring team and get a job?”

Not Getting Results? Get A Coach!

If a considerable amount of time has passed since you started applying for jobs, say 3-6 months, and you are either not getting interviews or not getting offers- then I would suggest speaking with a Business Coach Boston career coach to get input on your resume, cover letter, job fit and interview skills review. Yes, you do need a cover letter even though some job sites do not ask for it. Most employers, when hiring, want to know why you are interested in their company and that specific job and what relevant skills and experiences you possess that will make them consider interviewing you. In many cases, your resume will not even get to a hiring manager if there is no cover letter submitted. I know that many job sites such as allow you to upload additional documents such as cover letters. Some of my clients have even contacted hiring managers on LinkedIn and sent them their cover letters directly through Inmail if not offered the option to submit a cover letter on the job site. Many hiring managers have Open profiles or list their email addresses on their profiles, which enables you to send them emails directly.

The new year brings many possibilities and is a chance for a fresh start. It makes financial sense to invest in yourself through coaching so you do not waste more time spinning your wheels with the same unproductive strategies. Coaching allows you to hit the ground running in the new year so you can get a job more quickly. Coaching can also give you the support, motivation, and accountability you need.  Feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation.



Harris, R. (2009). ACT made simple. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Hayes, S.  (2005) Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.”  A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook.

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