T’was the night before the interview and all through the house, a candidate was pacing the floorboards, freaking out.
Sound like you? I know it sounds like me every time I’ve got an interview coming up. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are for the job, how stellar your references are, or even if this is your first interview or your third for the same position—interviews are nerve-racking. And the night before can be especially awful because it’s so close. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered—with a checklist for you to run down before you get all snug down in your bed to try and ease some of that pre-interview anxiety.
Check the company’s website one last time.
You’ve reviewed this company’s website approximately a thousand times, I’m sure. But give it another quick look. Familiarize yourself with any important details, but also take a look at the language the site is using. A company uses the copy on its site to distinguish its brand and image, and it’ll likely give you a look into the company culture and how management views its goals and place in the market. Aligning your mindset going into the interview with how the company sees itself is one way to go above and beyond.
Practice your “tell me about yourself.”
Chances are good that you’ve practiced your interview answers (repeatedly) well before this point—I’m sure you’ve got a story prepped for a time you made a mistake and learned from it, what you liked least about your last position, and even your spirit animal, just in case. But you should make sure you’ve got your “tell me about yourself” pitch down pat. Just about every interview will begin with that question because it’s a natural starting point—I’ve never been in an interview where the hiring manager walked in and immediately asked where I saw myself in five years. It’d be weird. So practice your “tell me about yourself” pitch—keep it short, sweet, and geared towards getting this position. That way, you’ll be able to start your interview off on the right foot and keep the momentum going until the end.
Reread your resume.
The other thing that’s probably going to happen in the interview tomorrow is people will pull facts and tidbits off your resume and ask you about them. It could be anything as general as, “Tell me about your role at your last position,” or as specific as to a request to describe a specific project you listed under a position. The hiring manager will definitely give your resume another glance before heading into the interview, so you should do the same so you are prepared.
Pick out your outfit.
I always find picking clothes stressful. And it’s even more stressful the morning of, when you realize that dress you feel confident in has a fancy new stain you didn’t notice before, and you have to leave in 20 minutes. Save yourself the panic—find your outfit the night before. I’d recommend choosing a “reliable” outfit: something you’ve worn before, that you know doesn’t have a trick zipper or a cuff that never lays flat. Check it for stains, pulled threads, etc., and go over it with an iron or steamer. Hang it up, and put aside everything that goes with it: shoes, stockings, jewelry, tie pin, whatever you need. Looking for the bits and bobs in the morning will just stress you out. Don’t do that to yourself.
Try and take your mind off it.
Sometimes the worst thing about an interview is that you’re always thinking about it. What if they ask about that six-month gap in my resume? What if I can’t find the building? What if I say something dumb? What if—? It’s not helpful. At a certain point, you’re just psyching yourself out. So once you feel reasonably prepared, try and get your mind off the interview. Go see a movie with a friend, read a book—whatever it is you have to do to stop thinking about it for an hour or two. Trust me, your nerves will thank you. You’ve done a ton of work prepping for this interview, and the best thing to do at the end of the night before is just to let go.
Get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
I know most bits of interview advice tell us to get to bed early. But here’s the thing: Our bodies are on a rhythm. Do you know what suddenly going to bed at 9:00 instead of your usual 11:00 is going to get you? Two hours of staring at your ceiling, stressing about how you’re going to oversleep and miss your interview. So I’m not advising that you stay up as long as you want, but don’t feel pressured to turn in at the same time the kids do. Sticking to your regular schedule as much as possible will keep you on an even keel, which is key to interview confidence. That said, if you’re the type to hit the sack around 4:00 a.m. … maybe go to bed early.
I’m certain that you’ve done an excellent job preparing for this interview. The goal at this point is simply not to let anxiety get to you and throw off your groove. Get out there and crush it—you’ve totally got this.
Program Director for Experiential Learning