What to Eat Before Your Job Interview and What Foods to Avoid

Interview FoodPicture this. It’s 5 minutes before your job interview. You feel a little warm in that waiting room, and you’re starting to sweat. Good news. With your suit jacket on, no one will see it. But then, you start smelling garlic…

Yes, what you eat before your job interview does make a difference. The foods and drinks you consume will impact how well your brain works when answering tough interview questions.  They also impact how much you sweat, smell and even feel nervous under the pressure of the interview room. Let me explain.

Eat brain food for better interview answers

Your brain uses 20% of your body’s total calories, though it accounts for only 2% of your body weight. All of that calorie consuming brainpower comes from one source: glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar that your body creates by digesting other foods.

To make sure that your brain is performing at its best during that next job interview, you need to ensure it has a steady supply of glucose.  That actually means avoiding lots of sugar before your interview.

Simple sugar, like in soda or candy, causes your blood sugar to spike. Then, as this sugar is absorbed, you crash because your body reduced its regular glucose flow.  That drop means you could be left struggling for words when that tricky interview question comes your way. You face a temporary shortage on the fuel you need.

To make sure your brain has a steady supply of glucose, the night before your job interview, eat foods with complex carbohydrates to keep you focused and running at 100%. Consider a bowl of pasta that night or a bagel in the morning to help you through.

Warning: if you do make that pasta, be sure to skimp on garlic. Here’s why.

336 imitar dif texto 2-1How Your Interviewer’s Perception is Affected by What You Ate

You know those foods that have a strong smell when you eat them? Like, chili, curry, and garlic? Your body actually absorbs what makes those foods smell.  Now, these odors aren’t noticeable the minute you’ve finished showering and brushing your teeth.

Yet, when you are nervous in a job interview, you start to sweat. Then these odors will come out.

And if you have a nervous stomach… You get the idea. If it smells strongly, don’t eat it for 24 hours before your interview.

Some food can make you nervous or sweaty during a job interview

Your heart is pounding in your chest. Your hands are shaky. You tried the standard tips to calm those interview nerves.  But it’s not doing the trick. Are you really nervous? Maybe, or maybe you had too much caffeine.

If you are a regular coffee drinker, you won’t notice these symptoms from your normal morning cup. Yet if you don’t drink coffee and make an exception, or if you decide on having that double shot of espresso to wake up, you may find yourself jittery. You will seem more nervous and a bit sweatier than you otherwise would for this job interview. (As a stimulant, cigarettes can also make you extra sweaty.)

Certain foods can also make you sweaty by taxing your digestive track.  These include fatty meats, cheeses and high fat dairy products, salt, alcohol and of course spicy foods.  Obviously, excessive sweating can make you look nervous and unprofessional to your interviewer. So wait to enjoy eating that cheeseburger with salty Cajun fries until after the interview is over. 

Dry mouth and high blood pressure can also occur from dehydration. If you don’t drink enough water, then your words may literally get caught in your throat.  Before your interview, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Just remember to have these fluids the night before your job interview or a couple hours ahead of time. Drinking tall glasses of water just minutes before go-time can make you feel… distracted.  

To be ready for your next job interview, definitely invest the time to craft solid interview answers. Yet, don’t forget to take care of your body as well. Be mindful of what you eat.

 Read more articles by Alan Carniol (See below)