Dear Matt: I had an interview for the first time in three years and was extremely anxious and unprepared leading up to the day of the interview. It showed — I didn’t feel comfortable in my suit and got lost driving to the office. How can I avoid this in the future?
Matt says: It’s not uncommon to be anxious in the days leading up to an interview. But with a little preparation and planning you can overcome this and feel confident walking in. Here’s how to do just that:
Dress for success.
Dusting off that business suit for an interview needs to be done well in advance of the day of the interview. Does your go-to shirt still button in the neck with that tie on? Are your shoes shiny? Should you wear heels or flats? Should you wear your hair up or down? Go through the entire cycle of getting dressed for success. What’s most important is that it gives you time to make wardrobe changes, buy some updated clothing or even take the suit to the dry cleaner or tailor if needed.
Prepare the paperwork.
Organize a padfolio in advance. Add a notepad and pens (that actually work), at least five business cards and at least three copies of your résumé. Print out a list of questions you may have and bring it all with. Before the interview put your suit on, take the padfolio out and practice sitting, taking notes and like you are interacting with others in an interview. Body language matters. Be confident, not uncomfortable.
Take a test drive.
Who hasn’t printed out directions from Google Maps but still got lost? Mapping services or GPS systems are not infallible — that’s why I recommend actually driving to the location where you will be interviewing before the day of the interview itself. Look for any potential delays or road construction and see how long it takes you to get there. Think about the time of the interview. Could rush hour extend that drive time? Make adjustments so you can arrive in the parking lot at least 15 minutes early, cool off, get organized and walk in to the office with confidence. Fill up your gas tank the night before so you don’t spill gas on that suit just before the interview. If you smoke, wait until after the interview.
Eat healthy, exercise and get plenty of sleep.
Doing this — or whatever calms you — can help you be alert and at your best come the day of the interview.
It’s normal to be nervous or anxious before an interview, but taking small steps like these will reduce stress and pay big dividends the day of the interview.