Here are several ways that interviews can make you sick and how to avoid them:
In our anticipation for the interview we worry, we stress, and we overthink. It is super easy to get nervous several days or weeks in advance. This anxiety leads to sleepless nights, skipped workouts, and stress eating. Our minds are filled with chatter, questions, and doubt. During this time, we stop taking care of ourselves, physically and mentally.
Making a plan and scheduling time to prep every day prior to the interview is the best way to reduce interview anxiety.
Our confidence grows with practice and education. So, learn about the organization/employer, the position, and yourself. Practice interview questions and answers aloud. Getting used to hearing your own voice aloud while honing the answers you provide builds interview confidence.
Interview Diet & Dehydration
Not only do we fill the days before the interview with an “off-brand” diet, but then we tend to eat abnormally on the day of the interview. Some of us eat a larger breakfast than normal while some of us skip it completely.
During the interview, we act as if we are on a first date and eat scarcely. We avoid any spills, slops, and unsightly mouth wrestling while chomping on our food. Since we spend most the time talking, we eat and drink sparingly. (It’s always best not to choke or hack up food when on an interview.)
This leaves us undernourished and dehydrated. Not ideal for performance time. To counteract, eat all meals and snacks as usual prior to the interview. At the interview, bring your own water bottle filled with a sports drink. A little extra glucose, electrolytes, and fluid will help handle the elevated cortisol levels and increased energy needs.
Playing the Quarterback
The mind games that we play afterward can make us sick. Like a quarterback, many of us tend to replay scenes of the interview over and over again. “Should I have said this? Did they find my joke funny? Was I wearing the right clothes? What did he mean by…?”
Many questions circulate in our heads. If we spend too much time dwelling, we can make ourselves sick. The best way to handle this is to schedule a time immediately after the interview to give yourself a synopsis or summary. In your car, put a 5 min timer on your phone and answer these questions:
· Overall, how do I feel?
· Do I think I got the position?
· Do I want the position?
· What did I learn from this interview that I will use in future interviews?
If you keep your thoughts on the big picture and focus on your gut feelings, then you will be able to avoid the hours of mental torture on trivial aspects. In the grand scheme of things, you either feel good or you don’t. Learn to trust your gut and accept what you cannot change.
The underlying issue behind interview illness is doubt. Self-doubt leads to impulsive behavior and bad decisions. Your overall goal prior to the interview should be to build your confidence. There are a few ways to do this.
- Recognize your ability and drive to learn. You are not supposed to know every aspect of the position at the interview. Employers would rather have someone who is eager and able to learn than someone who knows it all. Believe it or not, good employers want to train you and shape you. They want to know that you are flexible in learning and using their protocols and procedures.
- Remind yourself that things always work out. Life is not going to end if you have a horrible interview. Applying for several positions and taking several interviews is going to help reinforce this notion. Remind yourself that you have always succeeded and overcome challenges in the past and you always will in the future. Your mind believes what you tell it. So, tell it that you are a wonderful person who always succeeds.
- Do not limit your opportunities. Check out all of your options and compare them. Apply to several positions. Do not retract your application unless you had a dramatic life change since you applied. You can reserve your decision until after you are offered the job. If you are offered a job before you have completed other interviews, then ask for more time to decide (or request earlier interviews). It is okay to let your interviewers know that you have other interviews. You are not obligated to any one job until you accept it.
Notice that all of these requires certainty. Be certain in your decisions. Take your time, trust your gut, and do not get caught up in the small details. Have confidence in yourself. You will take care of yourself. You will be prepared. You will do well and you will make the right decision.
About the Author
Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD
Dr. Golem is the Professional Education Chair of the VAND. She has founded the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals this summer. She lives in Charlottesville, VA with her husband, Alex, and their dog, Lunch Lady Doris.