You’ve studied for hours and hours for this big day: the day of your interview. You have been to every offered info session, paid for three online interviewing courses, made hundreds of flashcards, and read every word on the company’s website.
Now the day has come for you to perform and shine. Assuming you have already practiced relentlessly for your interview, here are my personal top 9 things to do before your job interview.
1. Eat meals that you know work well with your body
A big part of performing well in an interview is feeling good physically and mentally for it. You want your mind to operate at peak performance with no distractions.
Watching what you eat the night before and the day of the interview is an important, and often overlooked step. You know what works with your own body and what doesn’t so I’m not going to list off things you should eat to help you. Simply eat and drink what you know works well for you.
If you know spicy foods and dairy don’t work well with your stomach, stay away from those types of foods. The last thing you would want during an interview is your stomach causing you problems.
By filling your body with the good stuff and avoiding the bad, your brain will be fueled, you won’t have distractions from discomfort, and you’ll be able to be the best version of yourself.
2. Hit the gym a few hours before
I have always read articles and seen YouTube videos on the benefits of exercising on your day.
Exercising wakes your body up, induces synaptic activity and neurogenesis for learning and brain function, and sends endorphins through your body that uplifts your mood.
No matter how important the interview was or how many hours I needed to study for, I always made time to go to the gym, even if only for 30 minutes.
I highly recommend you read the book Spark, by John J. Ratey. The book discusses the science behind the benefits exercise has to brain health and performance.
(See this post: Book Review: Spark by John J. Ratey, MD)
By going to the gym and exercising, I accomplished many things:
- Took a break from the brutal study schedule
- Reduced stress
- Woke my body up
- Sent positive endorphins and hormones through my body
- Increased bloodflow to my brain
Being awake, alert, and filled with energy will pay dividends during your interview. You’ll be able to think faster on your feet, but equally as important, you’ll send good signals to your interviewers through your body language, voice, and energy.
Imagine there are two candidates for a position. Both have the same credentials. One goes through the interview and is dull. He speaks quietly, kept his body as stiff as a board, and stumbled on his responses.
Candidate two, on the other hand, entered the interview feeling great. He responded quickly to questions, expressed his answers with appropriate voice and gestures, seemed relaxed yet attentive, and kept his interviewers’ attention.
Which one do you think gets hired? (hint: It’s candidate two)
Personality types do differ and this tip alone won’t take you from introvert to extrovert. However, by exercising a few hours before your interview, you can help yourself move towards being candidate two.
3. Take a Cold Shower
This is another tip for waking up and being alert. It’s definitely easier said than done, but if you are looking for any edge you can get, hop in the shower and turn it to the coldest it can go.
Try to stay in as long as possible and control your breathing.
Here are some of the benefits of cold showers:
- Improves blood circulation
- Strengthens your resilience
- Lowers stress levels
- Lowers depression symptoms
- Increases testosterone levels
- Increases mood and alertness
Going from exercise into a freezing shower is a dynamic duo to wake you up and have you firing on all cylinders.
4. Prepare Your Supplies to Bring
Prior to your interview, ensure you have everything you need to take with you.
Here are some of the common things I would bring with me:
Bring several copies of your resume, printed on quality paper. Odds are you won’t end up needing them, but bring them in case you do.
Most firms already have printouts of your resume for the interviewers to review before, during, and after your interview.
Copy of the job posting
I always brought a printout of the job posting with me to brush up on it while waiting in the lobby.
I would review the description of the position and the required skills and experience they were looking for so it was fresh in my head during the interview.
You probably won’t need to use a notepad during the interview, but it won’t hurt to bring it with you.
I would recommend getting a professional-looking padfolio to bring with you. **link to padfolio This can double as your notepad and a holder for your resume and job posting printouts.
Bring a pen to write with. (Who knows? Maybe they’ll offer you and have you sign on the spot!)
Interviews happen throughout all seasons of the year. If it is a cold winter or a spring with flowers blooming, you may find yourself with a runny nose.
Keep a napkin or tissue in your pocket just in case. A runny nose during an interview might be more distracting than an upset stomach, as referred to in tip one…ehh both are equally as bad.
Portfolio of work
If you have seen my other post on things to do during your interview, you know that I recommend that you bring a few projects printed out that you worked on and relate to the position.
Interviewers nearly always ask about things you have worked on and the skills you have.
Taking out a physical example of work and walking them through it while answering their question is a major way to stand out, display your work, and flex your presentation/communication skills.
5. Practice Aloud
I know at this point, you have already practiced the answers to the main potential questions a firm might ask, but practicing aloud will allow you to put your thoughts into words to see how things sound and how answers flow.
I recommended these tips in this informational post as well: How to Prepare, Practice, and Study for an Interview: Ultimate Guide
Go on a walk and do this
I would create my extensive list of flashcards on Quizlet and pull up the app on my mobile phone. I’d find a secluded area of campus or a park and just take a walk while quizzing myself.
I found that doing this allowed my mind to flow naturally given that I was also walking and talking at the same time. Recalling answers while walking also helped the answers stick in my memory.
Look in the mirror
Quiz yourself in the mirror. You can stand in front of a mirror, or even better, set a chair in front of a mirror and imagine you are in your interview.
Take note of what your body language is like. Think of how you are sitting and what you are doing with your body while you talk.
Are you giving off signs that you are relaxed and confident? Or do you look tense?
On the drive
As another last-minute practice, I would quiz myself on potential questions while driving to the interview location.
Again, I think the act of driving while also trying to remember my answers helped the answers stick in my head.
The idea here is to practice your responses in multiple situations. Don’t just practice your responses at your desk the entire time. Your mind may only recall how to answer those questions while you are at your desk.
If you practice in different locations and scenarios, the ideas are likelier to stick in your head long-term.
6. Ensure You are Dressed the Part
Make sure you have dressed appropriately for the position and for the firm. Appropriate attire for one firm may differ from the next.
For a techy start-up, maybe a full suit and tie is overkill and business casual is more fitting. Get a feel for that by looking online, browsing their website for photos of employees, and asking around within your network.
Here are some general tips on appearance:
- Ensure your clothes are clean and as wrinkle-free as possible
- Avoid colors and patterns that are too loud
- You have more leeway on this with choice of socks
- Have a clean and professional pair of shoes on
- Show up well-groomed
- Lint roll yourself
Some interviewers may not care about these things. You should honestly be judged off your experience and your character, but some will look out for these small details.
By taking care of these little things, you can send the message that you are detail-oriented and take pride in your appearance, which can show a firm that you will pay attention to details in the work you produce as well.
7. Use the Restroom
Try to use the restroom before you head off to the interview location and once again when you arrive at the interview location. You don’t want the distraction of having to go while you are mid-interview.
8. Meditate and Think Positively
The magnitude of the importance of some interviews can have you immensely nervous. A lot is on the line when it comes to landing a big position or coming up empty-handed.
Throughout the process, try to meditate to calm the mind and nerves and think positively. As cheesy as it sounds, say some affirmations and pump yourself up.
Waiting in the lobby immediately before being called in can have your heart racing. Take deep breaths and work your heart rate down to its normal level.
9. Power Pose
The idea of power posing became mainstream after this YouTube video of a Ted Talk from Amy Cuddy.
She described how you can alter states in your body simply by holding a “power pose” for just a short period of 30 seconds to a minute.
By posing in these powerful and dominant positions, you’ll change the biochemistry in your body and raise certain hormone levels to actually feel more powerful and confident. This can show through in your body language, your voice, and overall demeanor.
When I arrived to an interview location and was escorted to the lobby, I would typically use the restroom, as in tip 7, and strike these power poses in the mirror for a minute or two.
You might feel funny doing it, but I personally felt a difference after posing as the video suggested.
Hopefully, this list contained tips that you may not have seen before. When tackling interviews for internships and full-time positions, I truly tried to find any little advantage I could to put myself in the best position possible to earn an offer.
These tips are things that I implemented and couldn’t do without for an interview. Take them, implement them yourself, and even tweak them to what suits you best.
Much of this is experimentation, so try new things, find your routine, and get that offer!