Being at Your Best on Interview Day

Congratulations! You’ve done all the things needed to secure and prepare for an interview.

suited person in a car taking a deep breath and saying "here we go"

There are many articles out there with advice for handling the day of your interview with confidence and ease, but please don’t spend your time becoming an expert in -reading- about interview preparation. Instead, take these steps to be at your best on interview day.

Keep your best routine

Whenever possible, set yourself up for success by having a healthy and low-stress day. This means:

  • A good night’s sleep will probably serve you better than one more interview cram session.
  • You’ve make time for your regular workout, mindfulness practices, nourishing meals, and a paced schedule.
  • Taking a quiet moment to groom and dress at your best. Shower up, and if you don’t have an iron use these tips.
  • Arriving early and relaxed, having left time for travel or technical delays without rush.

Anticipate Nervousness

One of the reasons that your interview day is perfect for light exercise is because physically warming up is what people who prepare for high-stakes scenarios do. A twitch, leg shake, higher voice, shallow breath, sweat, and voice wobble are all associated with the tightening that nervousness provokes. To counteract these effects, you can take a minute or two to shake out your arms and legs or do some stretches to get the blood pumping and body loose.

Another way your body affects your performance is through breath. Let it be your friend throughout the interview.

  • Breathing from the belly with slow exhales is a good way to settle yourself before each interview, whether walking to a location or waiting for your interviewer to login.
  • If you find your mind racing, approach each question as a 1-2-3 process. 1 – listen to the question as it is being asked, try not to consider your response until they complete. 2 – wait at least one breath before answering, which gives you time to think. 3 – answer the question.
  • If you get off track with a question, stop and breathe to reset. Saying something like “I lost track of what I where I was going with that, I’d like to take a moment” will allow you to regroup. In addition to a purposeful slow breath, you can ground your feet and change posture to feel solid before returning to your thoughts and revisiting the question. If it helps, ask them to repeat it before starting again.

Finally, if it helps, mention to your interviewer that you’re a bit nervous because you want to do well. They expect you to have some nerves and verbalizing it sometimes just what you need to acknowledge and move forward.

Be Positive, Be Human

It sounds simple, but remember this is an important day for being good to yourself and others. Here are a few little things that matter:

  • Show kindness to everyone you interact with.
  • Avoid complaining about past experiences or people.
  • Ask for what you need. If the sound is bad mention it, or if you need a restroom break or some water during a series of interviews, make the request.
  • Embrace inevitable mistakes, and see what you can do to recover from them. Sometimes this means taking a moment in the interview (or after!) to request a pause to say what you now think is a better response or action.

Close Interviews Confidently

You did it! At this point, keep things simple, doing your best not to forget these closing instructions for each interview:

  • thank them
  • ask for the best way to follow up afterward
  • confirm next steps

Now you know what’s next and can keep in touch. Before you go to bed, write a thank you note to each of your interviewers.

If you’re looking for additional information about interview preparation, check here.

By Cameo Hartz
Cameo Hartz Assistant Director, Engineering Master's Career Services & Professional Development Cameo Hartz