Top 9 Breathing Tips to Ace Your Next Interview

By Martha Willson, Senior Career Coach


Studies have shown that suffering from ‘a case of the nerves’ in an interview can significantly affect a candidate’s chances of landing the job, despite how qualified they are. When we are nervous and stressed, we tend to tighten all parts of ourselves – muscles are tense, breathing is shallow, and thought-processes become constrained. Feeling nervous at an interview, therefore, can prevent you from exhibiting key success factors, namely – ability to connect, to exude confidence and to think broadly and critically.

I have practiced yoga for 40 years, taught it for a couple of those years, and have seen how transformative breathwork can be for my career coaching clients. Here are some breathing tips to consider that can dramatically improve your chances of interview success.

(These methods work well for all kinds of important meetings)


  1. Boost your confidence by intentionally focusing on your breath. Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth whenever possible as it increases oxygen uptake and circulation through your body. Bringing your attention to your breath will naturally slow it down so no need to force the breath speed or depth to change.
  2. Take 5 deep breaths through your nose. Place your right hand on your belly and feel it rise as you inhale. Put your left hand over your heart and think of sending your breath all the way to this hand. Hold for a comfortable moment at the top, then, as you exhale slowly, feel your chest lower slightly and your belly sink in. Repeat. If you feel your belly expanding and falling, you will know you are breathing from your diaphragm which will automatically calm you down.
  3. As well as diaphragm breathing (#2), practice pursed lips breathing. Sit relaxed with your spine long and straight (yes, you can relax and maintain good posture), breath in slowly through your nose for 2 counts and pursing your lips like you are blowing out a candle, exhale slowly for a count of 4.
  4. Anxious about starting the interview? Calm down by exhaling slightly longer than your inhale. A simple method is counting to 4 on the inbreath, hold at the top for 2, and exhale to the count of 6 or 8. Each slow, longer exhalation will trigger your parasympathetic nervous system. You are breathing your way to a “rest and digest” response, and away from the “flight or fight” response to stress.
  5. Simple trick to maintain strong posture so your breath can move easily around your body – on an inhale, raise your arms up above your body. Feel your rib cage lift and torso lengthen. Lower your arms on your exhale but maintain your slightly lifted ribcage. Ease and comfort in this position is key.


During the Interview
  1. When you first sit down for the interview, take a few intentional breaths through your nose as you relax into an open-chested straightened posture (#5). This not only calms your own nerves, but it also communicates confidence to your interviewers.
  2. Nervous voice? Consider slowing your breath and speaking as you exhale. This gets better with practice. Try it ahead of time by leaving a message on your phone and notice how your voice sounds stronger, and more confident when you intentionally use your breath to support your voice.
  3. Improve your comprehension of interview questions by breathing with intentional calm while listening to the interviewer. Your mind will relax and open with each breath, allowing you to fully understand the scope of the question and connect to your inner resources needed for a full and complete answer.
  4. Tricky interview question? Mind suddenly blank? Say, “hmmm, that’s a good question” as you exhale and breathe a few long, slow breaths as you consider your answer. It will come.


Deep breathing takes practice. Be kind to yourself. Start practicing deep breathing when you pause during the day. While you wash dishes or prepare your coffee. Breathe intentionally as you sink into a comfortable chair, or during a tea break. You will start to notice a growing ability to achieve a sense of peace and of calm.


Toombs Inc. Supports all levels of career transition from career management, executive coaching, tailored workshops, and outplacement support.


Research for this article came from a variety of sources: decades of yoga practice and teaching; Harvard Business Review (09/20;06/15); The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi (1996) and  Breath by James Nestor (2020)

Your new beginning
starts here.
Lets get to work

© Toombs Inc. • Privacy Policy
Let’s Connect
Stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing world with our latest insights.