Preparing for your job interview: mental imagery

Preparing for your job interview: mental imagery

You have done it.

You have received an invitation to an interview for your dream job. You double check the date, time, and place of the interview. As the date approaches, you begin to feel nervous. How should you prepare for your interview?

This post is the first installment in a series of three articles, which aim to help candidates prepare for a job interview.

Mental imagery

Like vivid daydreaming, mental imagery is a process that occurs when an image is being mentally represented in the absence of stimulus (Kosslyn, Thompson & Ganis, 2006, p.4). These representations are not necessarily only visual, but can be felt, smelt, heard and/or tasted within an individual’s mind (Guarnera et al., 2019).

Mental imagery can be utilised for a range of outcomes. For example, mental imagery has been strongly associated with enhanced sports performance and is practiced by athletes to mentally prepare for competition (Jones & Stuth, 1997, p. 102). Studies have proven that this process allows an athlete to gain confidence in their abilities and focus on any areas of improvement.

Beyond the use of mental imagery in high-level sports, research has identified an association between mental imagery and career success (Knudstrup, Segrest & Hurley, 2003, p. 575). The results of the study run by Knudstrap et al., which featured 99 participants, found that mental imagery had a significant effect on interviewees performance. The experimental group of participants were told to envision the interview process proceeding successfully and the interview concluding with a job offer, while the control group were given no instructions about mental imagery. The use of mental imagery led to higher interview performance (Knudstrup et al., 2003, pp. 576-577).

Science has spoken – give it a go! In preparation for your next interview, visualise an interviewer asking you questions. Visualise feeling confident and in control, and visualise the interview progressing to a successful outcome.

Want to learn more?

Check out the references below if you’d like to do some further reading about mental imagery.

If you’d like to speak to a professional recruiter about how to ace your next interview, get in touch!

Deedee Allison –


Guarnera, M., Pellerone, M., Commodari, E., Valenti, G. D., & Buccheri, S. L. (2019). Mental Images and School Learning: A Longitudinal Study on Children, Frontiers in Psychology 2034(10), 1-13.

Holmes, E. A., Mathews, A., Dalgleish, T., & Mackintosh, B. (2006). Positive Interpretation Training: Effects of Mental Imagery Versus Verbal Training on Positive Mood, Behavior Therapy, 37(3), 237-247.

Jones, J., & Stuth, G. (1997). The uses of mental imagery in athletics: An overview. Applied and Preventative Psychology, 6(2), 101-115.

Knudstrup, M., Segrest, S. L., & Hurley, A. E. (2015). The use of mental imagery in the stimulated employment interview situation, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 18(6), 573-591.

Kosslyn, S. M., Thompson, W.L., & Ganis, G. (2006). The Case for Mental Imagery. Oxford Press University.

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