Prepare your playlist: Many job hunters use music to relax before an interview

Survey finds that people also practice answers to difficult questions and use PTO when they have to schedule an interview during work hours.

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Job hunters practice answers to common interview questions and plan small talk and jokes ahead of time to ease anxiety around job interviews, a survey found.

Respondents said the two most nerve-racking activities are public speaking at 44% and job interviews at 29%. First dates and doctor/dentist visits were much lower at 14% and 12%. Job interviews are a form of public speaking, so it's easy to see why people are so nervous about not being able to answer difficult questions and not making a good impression. 

SEE: The data scientist job interview: Questions to expect and questions to ask (free PDF)

JDP, an employment screening firm, found that people spend about seven hours researching a company before going in for an interview and are most likely to look for customer information, financials, and leadership content. Sixty-four percent also seek out information about the person conducting the interview.

Here's what people are most likely to do to relax before heading off for an interview:

  • Listen to music to relax    64%
  • Visualization                     41%
  • Using positive self-talk    29%
  • Medication                       23%
  • Exercise                           23%

In January, JDP surveyed 2,018 people about how they prepare for job interviews. On average, respondents were 37 years old; 57% were female, 43% were male. Most respondents were midlevel professionals—57%—with 27% at a junior level and 16% at a senior level.  

Juggling a full-time and a job hunt

More than half of the respondents said they schedule interviews during regular work hours and 60% look for a new job and even apply while on the clock. Here is how people handle being away from work to take an interview for a new job:

  • Used PTO                    23%
  • Went during lunch        10%
  • Made up an excuse       9%
  • Worked from home        5%
  • Told the truth                  4%

Respondents seemed to trust their colleagues with 64% saying that they would ask a coworker to serve as a reference without worrying about the person telling the boss.

How do the outliers prepare?

It's always good to have an edge, particularly when it comes to highly competitive positions. The survey didn't include any proof that these tactics work but it never hurts to try a new tactic when looking for a new job.

Only 37% of respondents said they do mock interviews before the real thing. Doing a dry run with a trusted colleague or even in front of a mirror can ease your nerves and help you practice responses to tricky questions. 

Twenty percent of respondents report bringing a beverage to an interview. Having a small bottle of water could provide an insurance policy against being so nervous that your mouth goes dry.

Six percent of respondents make a gratitude list before going in for an interview. This could help you gain perspective on what is going right with your current job and could ease any feeling of desperation about finding a new one.

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fizkes, Getty Images/iStockphoto