Interviewing

7 Tips to Keep You Calm, Confident, and Prepared on the Morning of Your Interview

morning interview

Interviewing can be a nerve-wracking experience but the more prepared you are, the more calm and confident you’ll feel.

Like an athlete preparing for a competition, the morning of your interview should find you concentrating on the goal ahead—landing the job. Although you should already have done your research on the company, read up on those with whom you’ll be interviewing and studied trends in the industry, you will probably still have morning-of jitters. Last-minute job interview preparations can help lessen that anxiety and keep you focused.

Here are seven things you can do to prepare yourself the morning of your job interview:

  1. Give yourself time.

No matter how early your interview leave yourself enough time to ensure your clothes, hair (and makeup, if applicable) all look sharp. You want to be able to get ready without rushing around. Check the weather forecast before you dress, so that you’re sure you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store for you that day.

  1. Eat breakfast.

Those butterflies in your stomach may have stolen your appetite, but it’s important to eat a balanced breakfast before you leave. Don’t eat anything too sugary—you’ll be flying high for a couple of hours and then crash—but do eat foods that will fuel you for several hours and keep your stomach from growling.

  1. Know the way.

Don’t wait until you’re about to leave to figure out how to get to the interview or print directions (although checking traffic at the last minute is a good idea). Leave early enough that you have extra time to get to the interview, in case you make a wrong turn or traffic is worse than you anticipated. Verify the address online and print out directions or plug the address into your GPS ahead of getting into the car.

  1. Get centered.

Visualize in your mind how the interview will proceed and that it will be successful, which will help relieve anxiety. Although a little bit of an edge before an interview can keep you on your toes, too much can throw you off your game. Do some breathing exercises to slow down your heartbeat and calm your nervous system. One exercise is to breathe in and out deeply through your nose, to a count of five on both the inhale and the exhale.

  1. Bolster your confidence.

Write down a list of your strengths and accomplishments and the skills you’ve used over the years to achieve your goals. Then make another list of your weaknesses. Rehearse how you will talk about each of them.

Another way to beef up your confidence is to spend a little time in “power poses.” A recent study by the social psychologist Amy Cuddy at Harvard found that standing in one of these poses—for example, standing up tall with your feet apart and hands at your sides or standing behind a table with your hands on it, leaning forward–for a few minutes increases testosterone levels and decreases cortisol, the stress hormone. (Testosterone levels correspond to status and dominance.) In her paper, Cuddy wrote that practicing power poses could improve confidence and performance in situations like job interviews.

  1. Check the news, the company’s website and Twitter once more before you leave.

The last thing you want is for some big news about the company to have broken since the last time you checked and you don’t know anything about it. Before you leave for the interview see if there is any breaking news about the business or news relevant to the business. For example, perhaps the company opened a new business unit in the last few weeks or exceeded revenue expectations last quarter. You can reference that information during the interview.

  1. Be ready for your entrance.

Sitting in the waiting room—when you know you’ll be called any minute—is not the time to put down your coat, book and bottle of water and be looking intently at your phone. You will come across as surprised when you hear your name called, and then be scrambling to pull your things together. Your first impression should show the opposite—someone who is organized, professional and poised–so carry as little as you can to the interview and make sure that you can easily get up from your chair and offer a hand to shake. And don’t forget to smile. Nothing communicates confidence and positivity more than a smile (a sincere one though, not a nervous one), when you introduce yourself.

About the Author

Eilene Zimmerman is a journalist who writes about entrepreneurship, technology, small businesses and the workplace. She was a career columnist for the New York Times and is a regular contributor to the paper's small business section.