10 tips for stress-free interviews

Last week I was reminded of the fact that job interviews can be a big stressor to many people. Personally I don’t think so. But then again: it’s not what happens to us that stresses us, but how we look at it, right? So I have decided to share my tips and trick, hoping somebody might benefit from them.


  1. I am the right person for this job. It is crucial that you believe this. But it’s not always easy to find the ‘balance’. When you believe you are the ‘best’ person for the job, chances are you might be a bit arrogant. But the opposite is also a ‘no-no’: ‘Who am I? There are probably a 100 people who would be better suited for this job than me…’ No, you are the right person for the job. Careful, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get the job. Somebody else might be a better fit but that does not change the fact that you too, could be the right person for the job.
  1. Visualise yourself doing the job. The more you can see yourself doing the job, the easier it becomes to think you are the right person. You’ll be more congruent, it’s going to ‘show’ you can do it. An excellent exercise to get there is the ‘level alignment process’
  1. What if they don’t like me? Let me reply with: ‘What if YOU don’t like THEM?’… I once had an interview, and they were interested. I even went back for a second interview but… deep down I was thinking: ‘Do I really want to work here?’ And actually, I didn’t. So… when they offered me the job, I had to say no. And IF they don’t like you, don’t take it personal. You’re just not a ‘match’ at this moment and it was probably not meant to be in the first place.


After having taken care of the mindset, you want to prepare yourself carefully.

  1. Find out as much as you can about the job, the department, the company or organisation. What do they do? What’s the organisation like? How’s the atmosphere? Do people like working there? Having an ‘insider’ can be useful (although he/she can also be biased) but there is a lot you can find on the internet too.
  1. Study the job description: what are they looking for? Make sure that for every competence and/or quality they are asking for, you are able to give a relevant example (of you having that competence and/or quality). For instance: they want ‘stress resistant’. You have to be able to give a specific example of a situation in which you showed stress resistance. Maybe you don’t have a lot of professional experience. It is ok to use examples from your private life. Perhaps you have a hobby in which you are very much involved. This could also serve as an example of ‘team player’ or ‘organisation skills’ or … Be creative and think outside of the box!
  1. Be prepared for some ‘classics’ (and make sure that your answers are structured!):
  • Could you briefly introduce yourself? (e.g.: Who am I, what have I done so far, why do I think I am the right person for this job?)
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Could you give 3 positive and 3 negative qualities?
  1. If you tend to be nervous, practice some relaxation techniques. For more info look here and in the resource section of this website. But realise you need to practice, don’t try them out for the very first time at the interview…


  1. Wear something suitable. Make sure you ‘look’ the part. ‘Suitable’ will depend on the type of job you are going for and possibly also on the type of organisation. Finding out what is suitable, will be part of the preparation. Do make sure you pick something you also feel comfortable in…
  1. Make sure to keep eye contact. Should you be interviewed by more than 1 person, make sure to keep eye contact with all of them, and not just with the person with the ‘smiley’ face…
  1. When answering the questions: listen carefully to make sure you understand them well (if not, ask!), pause briefly (to allow yourself to structure your answer) and keep it brief. If they want to know more, they will ask. And don’t hesitate to ask questions yourself, should you have any.

These are my tips and tricks. If you have some of your own, feel free to share them below!

Good luck!

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“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmental” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

On purpose: it’s more than just being aware. You can be aware of the fact that you’re eating but that doesn’t mean you’re eating mindfully. It is about having the purpose of staying with the experience. And this experience can be anything: breathing, eating, doing the dishes, an emotion, …

In the present moment: the mind tends to wander. We get lost in our thoughts and very often these thoughts are about the past or the future. In mindfulness we try to notice what’s going on in the present, right now. And it’s possible that you’ll notice you’re in the past…

Non-judgmental: it’s about accepting whatever arises and observing it mindfully. When you notice ‘anger’, notice there is anger instead of ‘pushing it away’ because it’s not the ‘appropriate’ feeling to have right now… If you observe pain, stay with the pain… If you notice certain thought patterns: look at them mindfully…

After experiencing a lot of positive effects from his Buddhist practice, Jon Kabat-Zinn came up with an 8-week-programmes in 1979: MBSR (=Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). Originally it was created to help people suffering from pain, but it was quickly opened up to people suffering from stress in general.

Afterwards MBCT (=Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) was developed, specializing in helping people suffering from depression.

In both programmes you meet once a week, for 2,5 – 3 hours and you are given mediations and exercises to enable you to access your own resources for responding more effectively to stress, pain and illness.

Formal practice vs. non-formal practice:
Formal practiceMeditations like the bodyscan, focus on the breathing…

Informal practice:

  • When waking up: while still in bed, before getting up: notice your breathing
  • Shower: feel the water on your skin, notice the temperature, smell the soap,…
  • Meal: take your time, smell and ‘explore’ your food: taste, texture, …
  • While standing in front of a red light: be aware of your bodily sensations, relax your shoulders
  • A couple of times a day: take a ‘3-minute break’
  • Monotasking..


  • Wherever you go, there you are: mindfulness meditation in everyday life – Jon Kabat-Zinn (=introduction to the concept, short texts of 1 to 1,5 page(s))
  • Full catastrophe living. How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation – Jon Kabat-Zinn (=very complete and into depth)

Free recordings of formal meditations:

Articles on Mindfulness at work:
Financial times: here

If you want to find it all in one place: theory, practice, meditations – I’ve created this product, especially for you!

The Truth about Mindfulness  – Find out more here!



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Tips and tricks for better fish!

Writing fish small


Two weeks ago I already told you about my favourite technique to give positive feedback. If you need a little reminder, you can read that blog here.

I don’t know how much you’ve practiced so far but you might have encountered some of the issues below so… I figured that I’d address them one by one …

You’re still feeling some resistance
Well, I totally get it. Every year I tell this story in my trainings to hundreds of people. Most of them are a bit sceptical (to say the least!). Sighs, rolling eyes, I see it all! Until they read the fish that they received from their fellow-participants… That’s the moment many of them change their mind…

Practice makes perfect
Some of my courses take longer: several modules over several months. Usually I explain the technique during module 1 and then they get to try it out. During module 2, there is a second round. Often I notice that it gets easier for most people. It’s something you can learn. You get better in observing and stating certain behaviour. It becomes more natural.

You’re making it harder than it is
You want to say something ‘deep’, you find it difficult and therefore… you don’t say anything… When it comes to fish, you really want to keep it simple. You want to be as specific as possible. Somebody said something, did something and… for one reason or another, you liked it! And you want to share that.

You’re too general
This one is a bit linked to the previous one. You say something like: “I’ve noticed you are very friendly”. That is too general. What is it exactly that this person does that makes you say he/she is friendly? Did he smile at you? Did he ask if you were feeling ok? Be precise!

You can’t find anything positive to say about this person
He or she has probably been getting on your nerves for a while. And that’s why you can now only see the negative. As a first step, you might want to accept that there are some things that are bothering you (no point in denying that…) AND , at the same time, actively look for something positive. The smallest thing will do. Your other colleagues seem to like him… What do they see in him? It’s worth a try and in the end you’ll win too: as long as he gets on your nerves, you experience stress… Focussing on positive things = less stress!

You are worried that, if you give too many fish, the person will stop doing his best
Maybe he’ll get arrogant? In my experience, this is not the case. People like to be appreciated for what they do. The (working)relationship will improve and … giving fish does mean that you are no longer allowed to give (constructive!) negative feedback … In my view, there is room for both!

You are only giving fish when you need something
In that case I’m afraid you didn’t really get it… At that moment you are using it to ‘manipulate’… And don’t worry: people will pick up on it. Fish are supposed to be honest, if not they start to look like piranhas or jelly fish…

So… just get into the habit of giving more fish. At first you might have to plan for it (eg. ‘I will give one fish a day’ or ‘Today I really want to give on to x’). And you’ll see: after a while it becomes easier, fish come spontaneously and … both you and the receiver will have a lot of fun!

If you have any other tips to make this practice easier, please share below!

Good luck!

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