How Job Interviews Are Like Races

As I prepared for yet another job interview yesterday, it occurred to me that preparing for job interviews isn’t all that different from preparing for races.

You don’t want to eat anything different the night before. Just as you don’t want a rumbly tummy while you’re running, you really don’t want it in an interview! (At least at a race, you can find a Port-a-Potty. Excusing yourself to use the bathroom during an interview would be way more awkward.)

You need to find out as much as possible before. Before a race, you want to find out as much as you can about the course, race-day procedures and transportation. Before an interview, you’ll want to find out as much as possible about the company and also figure out how you’ll get there. You don’t want to think it will take 15 minutes to get there and it actually takes 30. Knowing that I can tend to run a bit late, I usually allow myself an extra half hour just to be safe.

You want to lay out your clothes and everything else you’ll need the night before. For a race, this is your outfit, your bib, your Garmin (if you have one) and anything else you might need. For an interview, you really should pick out your outfit in advance (and I really should take my own advice.) Knowing you have to leave in 15 minutes and not having an outfit picked out is pretty stressful. Luckily, I don’t work in an industry where I have to wear suits on interviews, but that means I have to pull together some sort of cute outfit that’s still professional. I usually end up going with a dress because it’s easier.

You’re going to be nervous. Races aren’t easy, and neither are interviews. I actually try to have less coffee before I have an interview because I remember being so nervous and so caffeinated at an interview once that my hands were shaking as I shook the interviewer’s hand. (Although, I ended up getting and loving that job, so…) Interviews (and the waiting period after) are incredibly stressful, and once I accepted that, I started wasting less time freaking out about freaking out. I’m going to be nervous, and I just try to take as many deep breaths as possible.

They don’t last forever. There’s a lot of build-up before both races and interviews, but they don’t last forever. A long race will be over in a few hours, but most interviews are shorter than that. For both races and interviews, once you’re done, you’re so glad to have the experience behind you, even if it didn’t go well.

It’s not the end of the world if you don’t do well. If you didn’t do well in a race, there will be other races. Promise. If you don’t do well in an interview, you can always write a great thank you note and try to better explain what you had a hard time answering in an interview. And if you don’t get that job, there will be other interviews.

What about you? Do you have any tips for overcoming nerves before a race or an interview? Or see any other similarities?

13 comments on “How Job Interviews Are Like Races

  1. Cait @ Beyond Bananas

    Ahh – loved this post! I never thought of how connected the two are!!

    As for (the few) interviews I’ve been on – I definelty made themost of my time learning about the different schools. Finding out special sayings – or mission statements – and being well versed in them definitley helped!!

  2. Emily

    in my life, interviews are not at all like races for the following reason: I actually own race clothes that are cute and match, but before an interview I have to go out and buy a suit because I don’t actually own one (ps jealous of you).

  3. ellen

    great post! and so true, or at least ideally. in reality, i rarely know anything about a race. i frequently sign up and don’t so much as check the course map. thank god most of my races are in good old central park πŸ™‚

  4. Elizabeth

    Brilliant analogy! I remember freaking out about interviews, and my mother saying something like, “Imagine you’re there to interview the company– to be sure they’re the right fit for you.” That little attitude shift helped me tremendously. Shifting my attitude has also been a huge help when it come to running– I may not be in it to win it, but I always plan to have a good time. πŸ™‚

  5. Steph

    These are excellent tips. Maybe I am Elizabeth’s mom πŸ™‚ because the one thing I always remind myself of is that as much as they’re interviewing me, I’m interviewing them. Are they a good fit for me? Is this where I want to be? Thinking that it’s my choice as much as it is theirs helps keep nerves at bay, for me anyway.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Steph: haha!!! No, that’s totally true, and now that I’ve had a few less-than-stellar jobs under my belt and am more confident of my skills, I think that, too. But I always would rather be the one doing the rejecting than being the one rejected πŸ™‚


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