Physical exercise is not often mentioned in connection with preparation for a job campaign and interviewing. It should be. Since physical preparation is a critical element in landing a job, it is important to start conditioning as early as possible.
When you enter an interview physically fit, you are in a better position than a large percentage of the candidate population. At worst, you are competitive. At best, you are ahead of many or most of the other candidates.
The longer-term effects can also be extremely positive. Ask anyone who is physically fit or who has recently attained that state through weight loss and a physical exercise program how they feel. You hear, “wonderful,” “great,” “terrific.” Now add outstanding business attire. The result is usually an individual who has an extremely positive attitude and a high degree of self-confidence. And, why not? A turnaround can be dramatic.
Along with good physical conditioning, mental alertness is another function of an exercise program. Physical conditioning and mental alertness go hand in hand. You must be as physically prepared and as mentally alert at the end of your last interview (perhaps five o’clock on a Friday afternoon) as you were at the beginning of your first interview.
Mental alertness furnishes the energy and stamina required to remain positive and focused through one or more interviews. A major component is the ability to listen. University studies show that most adults stay plugged in attentively to a conversation for less than one minute before their attention is diverted. Be honest. Don’t you find that when a family member or friend starts to speak, you either tune in or tune out depending on your interest in the subject? In interviewing, unfortunately, you can’t do that. Instead of listening selectively, you must remain focused as close to 100 percent of the time as possible. Active listening results in a response that is clear, crisp, and right to the point. A major concern of the interviewer is whether the applicant listens and responds directly to the question.
Another equally important reason for remaining focused is that you have your own agenda in the interview as well. Accomplishing your agenda requires careful listening, needs development, and the application of creative problem solving skills.
To achieve physical conditioning, then, the best systems are the aerobic exercise programs, and the best exercises are swimming, bicycling, walking, and/or jogging. This cannot be a haphazard once-in-awhile program, but a systematic, three to six times a week regimen. As with any plan, it is important to build up slowly until you reach full strength. Exercise more times per week rather than less. Assuming you are not currently on such a schedule, it should start on the first day that you decide to seek a job or job change, and it should continue throughout your campaign – in fact, for the rest of your career.
Your routine helps ensure you are in outstanding physical shape when you are called for interviews.
Working out on the day of the interview, if at all possible, can also assist you to relax and remain focused. How much should you exercise on that day? Certainly you should do no more than you have been doing in your regular program. You want to do enough to relax but not so much that you tire yourself. With the appropriate amount of exercise, your head is clearer and you keep the interview in perspective.
Building in time to exercise on an interview day offers other potential benefits. The additional time it takes allows you to forget the pressures of your present job or activities and to focus on various aspects of the upcoming interview. This time often pays dividends.
(Note: Any exercise program should be conducted under the direction of your doctor.)