by Stephanie Small
Published March 4, 2013
In 24 hours, you’ve got an interview scheduled at the grad school of your dreams. You’re nervous. You’re excited. You want to knock their socks off. How can you best prepare, so you show up at Dream University’s doorstep as the shiniest, best version of you possible?
A good night’s sleep should be your #1 priority. I know…you’re freaking out! How can you get any shut-eye when visions of your future are racing through your brain? Try the following tips:
Stop ingesting food and technology by 8 pm. At this point you are as prepared as you are ever going to be for your interview, it is more important to show up on time and be focused than to continue preparing for it.
Spend some time drinking tea, relaxing on the couch, or doing other soothing activities for at least an hour before you attempt to climb under the covers.
(2) Get Comfortable:
Once you get in bed, make sure you’re comfortable. Need to crack the window? Need some socks? Optimal room and body temperature (and only you know what that is) will help you drift off to dreamland.
(3) Do Relaxation Exercises:
Lie on your back and take at least five minutes of deep, slow belly breaths, breathing through your nose. Make sure the exhales are slightly longer than the inhales. Breathing this way sends a message to your nervous system to relax.
Try this exercise: starting at your feet, tense isolated muscle groups for a few seconds, then release them. Work your way up to tensing and releasing your calves, your thighs, and so on.
If you’re still having trouble with racing thoughts and an activated nervous system, there are many herbal and homeopathic products that can help. Your local health food store can offer you advice about what to try.
The morning of your interview is not the time to skip food, or to eat a meal high in sugar or caffeine. Each of these scenarios will wreak havoc with your blood sugar, causing it to spike, then crash. Low blood sugar can cause irritability, sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating: not exactly how you want to show up for this important appointment. Instead, eat a breakfast that’s rich in protein and fat. Yes, fat. Your brain needs both protein and fat to function effectively. Here are some options:
Eggs - Scrambled, fried, or hard-boiled. Try adding sweet potato or veggies on the side to be sure you get full!
Full-fat yogurt with fruit and nuts.
Smoothie - Combine dairy, coconut or almond milk. Add protein powder, frozen fruit, a fistful of spinach (you’ll barely taste it) and ¼ of an avocado (for some fat).
Be sure to bring a snack along to the interview in case you find yourself suddenly hungry right before. Try nuts and fruit, a piece of cheese, or some humus and veggies.
A few hours prior to your interview, take some time to refresh your memory by flipping through any materials you have about the school. Practice your responses to some of the commonly-asked interview questions.
Be sure you have accurate directions to your interview location, and enough money to cover fares for public transportation, tolls or gas. You don’t want to be rattled at the last minute by having to search for these things as you’re walking out of the door! It’s best to leave extra time in case of traffic or last-minute emergencies that sometimes arise. If you calculate that it will take you 30 minutes to reach your destination, give yourself at least 40.
That is - relax as much as you can. On your way to your destination, try the deep breathing discussed in the “SLEEP” section. You can also imagine yourself in a calm and beautiful location, such as your favorite spot in nature. This kind of visualization can be helpful for pre-interview nerves, as it slows your heartbeat and breathing. Some people also visualize themselves in the interview setting, answering questions with confidence and excitement. Whatever you choose, it’s best to put yourself in a positive state of mind.