15 things you should do in the 15 minutes before a job interview
The 15 minutes before a job interview can be harrowing, especially for job seekers who aren't sure what to do with that time.
"Those 15 minutes are your opportunity to get yourself into the right frame of mind, and set your energy and focus on who you'll be meeting with, what you want them to remember about you, and what you want to ask them," says Deborah Shane, a professional branding strategist and author of "Career Transition."
Here are 15 things you should do in the 15 minutes before a job interview:
1. Stay calm.
When you become stressed, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Depending on the level of your stress, these can slightly or greatly inhibit your ability to think clearly, says David Parnell, a legal consultant, communication coach, and author of "The Failing Law Firm: Symptoms and Remedies."
"Ensuring that you remain calm, collected, and cool in the minutes leading up to the interview is necessary to avoid this hormonal elixir, and keep your mind clear," he says.
Career coach Anita Attridge agrees. She says staying calm before and during an interview allows you to listen better and to stay focused on how to best respond to questions.
"In addition, you are better able to think how you can best present your accomplishments in alignment with what is important to the interviewer — and being calm also demonstrates your ability to deal with stressful situations."
This will help you remain calm. "Counting your breath is one of the most immediate and impactful techniques for calming your nerves," Parnell says. "Simply focus on your breaths, counting each until you reach 10, and repeat."
3. Arrive early, but don't go inside.
Few things can shake you more than running late to an interview, so always arrive early. But be sure to wait in your car or a nearby café, as being too early can place unnecessary pressure on your interviewer and start the meeting off on the wrong foot, Parnell explains.
Rita Friedman, a Philadelphia-based career coach, says you shouldn't walk into the office building more than 10 minutes early. "It can come across as an imposition, as if you are expecting the interviewer to drop whatever he or she is doing to attend to you."
4. Be friendly to all receptionists and security guards.
When you do walk into the office's waiting room (which should be about 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time), remember to be nice to the receptionist, security guards, or whoever greets you. "It's very likely that he or she will be reporting back to the hiring manager about how you behaved," Friedman says.
5. Decide on one or two things you want to be remembered for.
Is it your communications skills? Project management skills? Knowledge? "Keying in on a few things that will impact your memorability and likeability is a smart way to approach the interview," Shane says.
6. Stop rehearsing.
You don't want to use this time to over-prepare or rehearse responses, which can make your conversation seem scripted and inauthentic. "You want to know your stuff, but remember your interview is a conversation. Trust that you know what you know, and that the interview will take on a flow of its own," Shane says.
7. Focus on your posture.
Sit in a power pose while waiting to go in for your job interview. "You'll come across as looking more confident and poised," Friedman says.
8. Don't check your voicemail or email.
You may hear or read something that will get you all worked up, Shane says. It will distract you and throw you off your game, which is one of the worst things that can happen.
9. But do check Twitter.
"Take a glance at the company's Twitter feed just to make sure no major game changers or hot topics have popped up since you did your research," Friedman says. "If something relevant has started trending in the last couple of hours, you don't necessarily have to be the one to bring it up, but you'll want to appear in-the-know in case it's what everyone is focused on."
10. Briefly review your notes.
Before the interview you should write on a few note cards some key information like your interviewers' names, titles, and relationships to the position, Attridge suggests. Also include answers to questions you hope you won't be asked so you can worry less about them, as well as your pitch for when someone says, "Tell me about yourself."
Take the 15 minutes before the interview to review these notes. "You don't want to walk in asking for 'Jim' when you really mean 'John,'"Friedman says.
11. But don't do any additional research.
You should be done researching, preparing, and rehearsing. "This is not the time to be using your phone to look up the company's recent achievements or earnings report. Giving big numbers of projects a glance at the last second is a good way to misinterpret key information," Friedman says.
12. Look in a mirror.
Duck into a nearby restroom or clothing store to check yourself out in the mirror, Friedman suggests. "You may have left the house looking like a million dollars, but you could still arrive looking like a vagabond."
This is also a great time to wash your hands and make sure your fingernails are clean and your palms are dry. If you wore comfortable shoes and plan on changing into dress shoes, be sure not to do this in the office.
13. Organize your bag.
"Make sure you can easily pull the copies of your resume out of your bag without rummaging through it or exposing any personal items," Friedman suggests. "You don't want to look disorganized while you're presenting your qualifications."
14. Notice what is happening around you.
Observe what the office environment feels like, what's on the walls, and what mementos are in the reception area. " These indicate what is important to the company," Attridge says.
15. Think happy thoughts.
This may sound cliché – but thinking of pleasant things that make you smile and feel good will help put you in the right state of mind going in to the interview.
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