What to Do Before an Interview

By Larry Robbin, Executive Director of Robbin and Associates

If you are in job search, you have probably read or heard a lot of things about what to do and say in an interview. What is missing from all that advice is information about how to prepare yourself in the weeks before the job interview. A job interview is like an actor or actresses going on an audition, a championship sports game or any other event where a one time performance means everything. In an earlier LinkedIn post, I wrote about how to turn a job interview into a job offer and covered research and other topics, but in this post, I want to focus on the ramp up time to the interview itself.

1. Avoid doing anything big out of the ordinary. Do not eat at a new restaurant where you might get a stomachache. Do not go on a blind date where you might find out you are on a date with a sociopath. Do not go on a vacation to new place that might be a disaster. Do not get a new roommate or a pet. If are working and can avoid it, do not take on new responsibilities or a project in your job that has the potential to stress you out and consume you. Your goal is to keep yourself focused, centered and consistent so you can go into the interview with as few new things on your mind as possible.

2. Keep away from people and situations that can stress you out. This is not a good time to meet with your former spouse, a nasty relative or a neighbor that drives you crazy. The interview will be stressful enough. You should avoid things and people that will add stress to your life.

3. Decide what you are going to wear well in advance of the interview. It is a good idea to wear old favorite clothes that fit with the culture of company that is interviewing you. Do not wear new clothes that may have a wardrobe malfunction in the interview or draw your attention to your new attire. You want to feel comfortable and confident in what you wear.

4. Do whatever it takes to get on a regular sleep cycle. You will be stressed out from the anxiety of the interview and it may be necessary to add some exercise to work out the stress. Develop a consistent pre-sleep ritual that helps you get enough sleep. Do not watch the news right before you go to bed. Watch out for caffeine, sugar and alcohol consumption. Do not wait until the night before the interview to try and get a good night’s sleep, start at least a week ahead with a sleep ritual that helps you get into a deep beneficial sleep.

5. Drive or take public transportation to the place where you will be having the interview. Going over the route, knowing where to park and seeing the place has a calming effect. Do whatever you need to do to help you anticipate the process of getting to the interview.

6. Let the significant others in your life know that you are focused on the upcoming job interview and need their support. They should expect that you might be distracted or forgetful. You do not want them taking this time to tell you about a habit of yours that drives them crazy. You do not want them placing new demands on you. Interviewing is a team activity and you need the support and help from your team.

7. Do not try and cram for the interview. While it is a good idea to review your notes about the interview the night before and in the morning, it is not a good idea to spend all your time on this activity. It will only add to your stress. You should prepare for the interview as soon as you hear about it and use the night before and morning to recap your preparation.

8. Take pride in the fact that in the very competitive world of job search you did enough of the right things to get an interview. Keep in mind that a very small percentage of applicants get interviews. Focus on what it is about you and what you did in the job search to put yourself ahead of the pack. Make sure you do not focus on your weaknesses in applying for this position, but focus on your strengths that got you the interview. The coach of a famous pro-golfer once told me that his protégé was in the bottom quarter of the golfers that were good at getting out of the sand traps and on the green. I thought they would focus on improving the golfer’s skills in those areas, but no they focused on improving his skills at avoiding the sand traps in the first place and it made him a champion. Focus on the success you have had in job search and not your weaknesses. Be proud of what you have accomplished!

Interviewing is one of life’s more stressful activities. You will do better in the interview if you learn how to manage that stress and turn its energy into giving a dynamite job offer interview. I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you in that process