What to Eat on the Day of a Big Job Interview

Jolene Pilgrim
15 Aug 2017

Growing up my mother used to tell me growing up, “you are what you eat.”  While I eventually outgrew my childish giggles imagining sunny side egg top hats and broccoli-laden feet, as an adult I also realized that this sage advice is a bit more complicated than it initially seems.  

I mean, sure, we all know that starting the day off with a solid breakfast provides much-needed fuel for the day to come.  If you’ve ever tried to survive that early morning meeting on one “double mocha latte” you know first hand the consequences of not feeding your body and your brain.

This goes double for stressful or energy intensive events, such as nailing that big interview you’ve been anticipating for weeks on end.  And while my anecdotal evidence, learned over a plate of mom’s best scrambled eggs and bacon, is certainly solid supporting evidence, science has come a long ways recently in kicking this sage advice into overdrive.  

Steven Pratt, MD, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life, is just the recent in a plethora of scientists, doctors, and nutritionists who are advocating hacking our brains by filling up on key ingredients in the mornings or days leading up to that tasking interview or other life events.  So what are these nutritional marvels that may give you a mental leg up for your next big job interview?  We’ve broken down a few of our favorites below!

Nuts, Seeds and Whole Grains…Oh My

Nuts and seeds have long been touted as excellent sources of essential vitamins and nutrients including the brainpower boosting Vitamin E.  In studies, Vitamin E has been shown to boost mental clarity and stave off the effects of age on your brain, long term.  Whole grains such as Flax are also excellent sources of mentally stimulating compounds such as alpha linolenic acid, a fatty acid that helps neurons process sensory input.  Consider that off the cuff interview question nailed!

Start Your Day Off on a Berry Good Foot

Perhaps one of the tastiest and worst kept secrets in the great superfood mythos, berries of various varieties are jam packed with everything your brain needs to keep performing at tip top shape.  Goji berries are chock full of beta carotene (move over carrots) and outdo oranges when it comes to vitamin C.  Blueberries and blackberries contain powerful antioxidants which are crucial for preventing brain damage from free radicals.  Move over brain fatigue!

Play Your Carbs Right

While everyone loves a good stack of pancakes during weekend brunch, right before your big interview may not be the most opportune time to carb up.  Items that contain white flour, simple sugars, and other easily processed carbohydrates can cause fluctuations in blood sugar with large energy spikes followed by equally low crashes.  If you’re inclined to eat starches, consider low glycemic impact fruits, vegetables and grains such as quinoa or whole wheat.  You can indulge in that celebratory slice of chocolate cake after you land the gig.  

Be a Lean, Mean, Protein Machine

Rather than carb-loading for your power breakfast, consider packing on the protein before your big interview.  Lean sources of protein are slower to digest, providing an even and consistent fuel source to power you through the day.  Many proteins also have beneficial fatty acids that help brain function.  Here’s to fueling the body and mind!

Omega 3’s, Health Food Powerhouses

Unless you’ve been hiding under a nutritional rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.  These tasty building blocks provide anti-inflammatory properties as well as aid in short term memory health, handy for being able to recall names, places, and dates during mission-critical interviews.  Salmon and other deepwater fish, eggs and certain veggies are big winners in the Omega-3 category so load up on that lox, stat!

Overall Tips for Interview Day Meals

Preparing your own sit-down meal on the day of your big interview provides more than just nutritional benefits as well.  Regular meals are vital aspects of creating important routines that help your brain sort, process, and access information more efficiently.  Meal time with family and friends can also be important times to download and exchange ideas or career advice.  You never know when mom might just have a piece of sage wisdom that helps you land that major gig.  

Portion sizes, regardless of contents, are also important to help you feel your best.  Regardless of what you eat, a large meal that leaves you overfull will cause energy dips as your body diverts energy to help digest the nutritional feast.  

Finally, don’t be afraid to bring a small snack in the form of a piece of fruit or granola bar, especially if you know your interview will take place over several hours.  Noshing down a few hundred calories over a quick break in between interviewers can help keep you alert and undistracted by a rumbling stomach.  

Remember that your interview is your best chance to make a good first impression and when you feel your best you also perform your best.  Fuel your body and your mind to set yourself up for interview success!

Jolene Pilgrim