What happens in your body during a job interview?


Have you ever been so worried about a job interview that it has made you ill? You’re not alone.

We asked Treated.com GP Clinical Lead Dr Daniel Atkinson what happens inside your body before, during and after an interview and why:

  • Anxiety can trigger the release of chemicals in the digestive tract which leads to the butterflies in the stomach sensation;

  • The surge of adrenaline into the bloodstream can cause the heart to beat faster;

  • Nervousness can impede the production of saliva in the glands, causing dry mouth which can make it harder to speak and a dry cough;

  • Being asked questions can cause stress hormones such as cortisol to be released, which may manifest as a leg bounce.

Aside from the nerves and anxiety, a job interview can leave you coming down with something more serious like glandular fever due to the effects of stress and tiredness on the immune system. After an interview finishes up, it’s normal to feel tired but this can also be the time when a dormant infection rises to the surface.

Dr Daniel Atkinson has the following tips for people preparing for an interview:

  • ‘Don’t overdo it on caffeine in the morning, as this can amplify the release of stress hormones and make the trembling effects and nerves worse. Try to limit yourself to just one or two cups.’

  • ‘Drink plenty of water to help you stay hydrated. This will also help to lubricate your mouth and throat so you don’t end up with a scratchy, dry cough when answering the interviewer’s questions.’

  • ‘Get a decent night’s sleep. It might be tempting to cram in preparation the night before, but if you are making notes and reading up on the company, set yourself a sensible cut off time of 9pm. This will give you an hour or two to relax before you go to bed, and having a clear will help you sleep better.’

  • ‘Eat a healthy breakfast if your interview is in the morning. Anxiety can make you feel nauseous so it’s a good idea to have something to settle your stomach, rather than go in running on empty. Porridge is a good example. The slow release of energy will help you to stay energised for the duration of the interview (so you won’t spike and crash halfway through).’

  • ‘Similarly, if your interview is in the afternoon, having something light and sensible for lunch. Overdoing it on carbohydrates might lead to a crash and leave you feeling sluggish.’