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Wondering what to do an hour before a job interview? I’m glad you asked.
An invitation to a job interview means your resume piqued someone’s interest, and you might have a shot at the job.
But don’t be so quick to celebrate.
The interview is where the real work begins. It’s where you’ll tell the employer why you’re the best candidate for the job. But it’s also an opportunity to assess whether the organization is a good fit.
For many people, the bulk of their interview preparation takes place in the days leading up to it. But don’t forget that the hour before your interview is also crucial preparation time. You want to focus on making the best impression possible — not scrambling around in a panic.
This article will share some best practices for those last 60 minutes before every job interview.
Why the Last Hour Before an Interview is Important
The last hour before an interview can make or break you. If you spend this time anxious and nervous, your mind will be clouded by negative thoughts and emotions when you’re in the hot seat.
But if you spend this time relaxing, preparing, and planning, your mind will be clear and ready to take on the challenges of the interview.
So, I’ve found it helpful to have a routine for this last hour. With enough practice, it should become second nature, and you’ll be able to go into your interview feeling confident that you’re prepared.
9 Things to Do an Hour Before a Job Interview
Preparing for an interview is like cramming for a test. You can’t possibly learn everything in the last hour before your interview, but you can go over some pointers to help you feel more prepared.
With that, stay with me as we explore what to do an hour before a job interview:
- Stretch and meditate for five minutes
- Get dressed
- Get hydrated
- Drink something caffeinated (if needed)
- Have a light snack
- Brush your teeth
- Gather the materials you’ll take with you
- Check how long it takes to get to the interview question
- Leave with time to spare
1. Stretch and meditate for five minutes
When you’re preparing for an interview, it’s easy to fixate on the things out of your control. From being nervous to dealing with new surroundings or being intimidated by an interviewer, there’s a lot of anxiety that can cloud your performance.
Meditation and stretching suffice to help you adapt to challenging situations, calm your nerves, boost your mood and confidence, and get you in the best mindset for interviewing. You’ll be ready to answer interview questions posed with confidence and calmness.
Not used to meditating? Start with this technique:
Find a comfortable position — whether sitting in a chair or lying on the floor. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, inhaling and exhaling slowly. You can count each breath or simply focus on the sensation of breathing in and out. Don’t worry about getting distracted by thoughts; gently refocus on breathing.
Good stretches will loosen up your body and help you feel more relaxed. There are many types of warm-up routines (and opinions about whether they are helpful at all), but here are two to help you get started:
- Shoulders back stretch: Start by sitting with arms at your sides. Lift your shoulders toward your ears and hold them for 5 seconds. Then drop your shoulders to relax them. Repeat this movement about four times.
- Arm circles: Stand up and lift both arms out to shoulder height with elbows slightly bent. Make small circles with both arms, going forward first and then backward. Increase the size of the circles as you go on until they’re reaching maximum size. Repeat this ten times in each direction. You should feel this stretch in the shoulders, chest, biceps, and forearms.
Aim for five minutes of stretching followed by five minutes of meditation — this should help you decompress from an otherwise stressful morning and loosen up for that crucial job interview!
2. Get dressed for success
Three-quarters of hiring managers find dressing well important in their company. In addition, 58% of interviewers would choose a formally dressed candidate over a casually dressed competitor with better references.
You want to show you’re professional and polished — not trendy and flashy. I recommend wearing a suit or blazer in a solid, neutral color (navy, black, or gray). Choose a clean and pressed white or light-colored shirt underneath. If your skirt or pants have creases, iron them too. Make sure shoes are clean, polished, and comfortable.
For men: Wear a conservatively patterned tie or in a solid color. Match it to your suit or blazer (not your shirt) and make sure there aren’t any rips or stains. Wear dark socks that cover your legs when seated (no bare skin!); match them to your pants, not your shoes.
For women: Keep hair neat and out of your face during the interview; choose simple jewelry in good taste that won’t distract from the primary business. And please don’t go overboard with makeup and perfume.
This can help you out: Why Is It Important to Dress for Success at a Job Interview?
3. Get hydrated
Dehydration leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and mentally foggy. News-Medical suggests that body water deficit reduces cognitive ability, leading to short-term memory problems, longer reaction time, and poorer concentration.
Drinking water helps your brain (composed of 75% water) fire more efficiently. And it’s not a surprise that cognitive tests will yield better results when you’re well-hydrated.
Staying hydrated also keeps your energy levels up, so you’re ready to impress the hiring manager with your sparkling personality. And just as your body needs water to function, your vocal cords need water to vibrate fully, helping with your articulation.
But don’t drink gallons of water before the appointment; just enough to prevent dehydration.
4. Drink something caffeinated (if needed)
This pointer on what to do an hour before a job interview is for anyone who needs a little boost to be alert and focused. It’s particularly beneficial if you’re tired from all of your prep work or didn’t sleep well the night before an interview.
Caffeine is a mild stimulant. It’s not a miracle drug, and it won’t make you smarter. And while it isn’t an equivalent substitute for preparation and practice, it can give you a short-term boost in mental performance if your brain isn’t functioning optimally. Caffeine peaks within an hour, and the effects can last 6-8 hours,
Caffeine is considered safe up to 400 milligrams per day—about 4 cups of brewed coffee. If you’re not used to caffeine, start with a small amount and see how you feel after about 30 minutes. Some people can feel the effect in as little as 15 minutes.
Unsure whether caffeine will give you too much energy during the interview—or have an upset stomach? Skip it! Never try anything new right before an interview; stick with things that have worked well for you.
5. Have a light snack
Your stomach is grumbling, and all you want to do is sink your teeth into a burger and fries.
But it wouldn’t be wise to eat anything too greasy or heavy before an interview. If particular food gives you indigestion, the last thing you want to be doing is fidgeting with discomfort. Or if the food causes you to burp often during the interview—or worse, gives you gas—it will be a huge distraction that might even put off your interviewer.
When choosing what snack to have beforehand, consider foods easy on your digestive system. You don’t want any uncomfortable symptoms affecting your concentration during the interview!
Some nutrients may also cause bad breath, so skip onions, garlic, canned tuna, and horseradish before an interview.
But don’t forget: Your body needs fuel to perform well! So make sure to include some form of energy in your pre-interview meal—for instance, a granola bar or power bar are excellent choices. They have healthy carbohydrates that will give you a boost without weighing down your stomach.
6. Brush your teeth
Brushing teeth isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering what to do an hour before a job interview. It should be.
And here’s why:
You want a clean smile and fresh breath during the interview. Along the same vein, you won’t have to worry about anything besides impressing the interviewer with your intelligence and experience.
You don’t want food particles in your teeth—they can be distracting and unattractive. Plus, if you talk too much, you might be spitting food crumbs everywhere. Gross!
The act of brushing can make you feel more confident about yourself and make it easier for you to put yourself out there during an interview. Two minutes is the ADA-recommended amount of time to get your teeth clean.
If you’re still worried about bad breath, try chewing a piece of gum or having some mints — but don’t get too carried away with either option. You don’t want to be chewing gum or smacking while answering questions.
7. Gather the materials you’ll take with you
Ensure you’ve got these essentials to take with you to the interview:
- Copies of your resume. Bring three copies of your resume if multiple people will be interviewing you or you need a spare in case of spillage.
- Job description. A printout of the job description will allow you to refresh your memory about what the position entails and what skill sets are required.
- Work samples. If possible, bring examples of past projects relevant to the job you want. They should demonstrate your skills and experience.
- A notebook and pen. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by new information during an interview, so having main points written down helps ensure that nothing slips through the cracks later on when reviewing your experience.
- Padfolio. Use this leather folder to carry all pertinent documents to your interview. It should look professional, not worn and tattered.
Today, it’s becoming more convenient to carry soft copies of essential documents on a phone, laptop, or tablet. That could be a reliable backup plan when you lose the hard copy.
8. Check how long it takes to get to the interview location
Giving yourself enough time to get to the interview ensures a calm entrance and an easy transition into the appointment.
Before the interview, do an online search of the closest subway station or bus stop using the address provided by the employer. Check how long it takes to get there from your home and plan accordingly.
Even if you live close by, an accident, car breakdown, weather event, or unexpected traffic jam can throw your timing into disarray. So, always add at least 30 minutes to the travel time to account for any emergency.
If you’re running late, showing initiative will make a good impression. So, call the employer, apologize, and provide an estimated arrival time. The sooner you call, the better. If there’s no answer, leave a message.
9. Leave with time to spare
Consider arriving at the interview location 10-15 minutes early. It goes beyond making a good first impression, allowing you enough time to locate the interview area and use the restroom before your interview.
You could use the opportunity to collect yourself, review your talking points, and get in the right frame of mind.
The hour before the interview is when you get all of your ducks in a row. Don’t panic, but start doing the little things to make your overall first impression good.
And remember, at the end of the day, we’re all only human. You’ll appear more authentic if you feel at ease and relieved that you’ve already done some of your hardest work.
The above tips on what to do an hour before a job interview don’t guarantee the absolute difference, but it doesn’t hurt to be ready.
Best of luck with your upcoming appointment! Read up on Top 5 Ways to Succeed During an Interview in 2022