What you should do 15 minutes before a job interview — and what you should never do

You should have already prepared, but these 17 things can take you the extra mile.

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You should have already prepared, but these 17 things can take you the extra mile.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • Nerves can often get the best of you in the 15 minutes leading up to a job interview.
  • This short time frame can be an excellent opportunity to review your notes, relax, and put your best foot forward.
  • Here are 17 things you should always do in the 15 minutes before a job interview.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

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.”

Read more: 10 expert tips for wowing a hiring manager to land the job of your dreams

Here are 17 things you should do in the 15 minutes before a job interview to help you land the job.


1. Arrive early, but don’t go inside

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Find a local coffee shop and prepare.
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Stock-Studio / Shutterstock.com

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, says David Parnell, a legal consultant, communication coach, and author of “The Failing Law Firm: Symptoms and Remedies.”

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.”


2. Stay calm

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Do a mini-meditation before going into the interview.
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Shutterstock

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, Parnell says.

“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.”


3. Breathe

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Focus on your breathing and try to relax.
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Francisco Osorio/flickr

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.”


4. Briefly review your notes

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Review your notes.
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Silicon Prairie News

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.


5. But don’t do any additional research

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Don’t look up anything new.
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Flickr/Rachel Johnson

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.


6. Don’t check your voicemail or email

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Stay out of your email and off your phone.
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Shutterstock

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.


7. But do check Twitter or the companies’ LinkedIn

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It’s okay to check LinkedIn or Twitter.
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Shutterstock

“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.”


8. Decide on one or two things you want to be remembered for

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Focus on what you bring to the table.
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Getty Images

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.


9. But stop rehearsing

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Don’t rehearse what you’re going to say.
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antoniodiaz/Shutterstock

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.


10. Organize your bag

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Organize your bag if it’s messy.
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Flickr/Evil Erin

“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.”


11. Look in a mirror

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Look in a mirror.
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Gustavo Spindula/Unsplash

Duck into a nearby restroom 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.


12. Be friendly to all receptionists and security guards

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Smile and shake everyone’s hand.
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Getty Images

When you do finally walk into the office’s waiting room, 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.


13. Focus on your posture

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Sit up straight and be aware of body language.
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antoniodiaz/shutterstock

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.


14. Notice what is happening around you

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Check out the office furnishings and overall vibe.
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Flickr / Dev Bootcamp

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. Drink water

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Drink some water so you don’t interrupt your interview.
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Michael Dodge/Getty

It’s always a good idea to bring along some water with you. The receptionist will usually ask you if you would like some prior to your interview, but bringing your own is always a safe call.

Having a sip of water will cool you down and soothe your voice before you begin telling the hiring coordinator about all of your accomplishments. Plus, if you do need water during the interview, you don’t want to have to interrupt it in order to get some from out of the room!


16. Brainstorm one more question for the interviewer

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Think of just one more question.
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PeopleImages/Getty Images

You should already have a couple of questions ready to ask your interviewer at the end of your time together. However, before you go into the interview, see if you can think of any others that come up.

It could be as simple as asking about the resources available in the office and how that plays into the company culture i.e. “I noticed you have quite a few conference rooms and group workspaces – is there a lot of collaboration between team members?”


17. Think happy thoughts

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Stay positive.
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Jeroen Werkman/Flickr

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 into the interview.