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I drink before I interview
145 points by aspertun on Nov 18, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 204 comments
I know some of you can relate, when I have to interview I feel a terror come over me. It's immobilizing. A simple algorithm question becomes impossible because I don't have access to my prefrontal cortex, instead it's all fight or flight, sweaty hands, and panic.

I found with covid I can now do the onsite portion with a little wine in my mug and answer the questions with access to my whole brain, since it's all over zoom.

When I told this to a friend they said they use beta blockers.

Can anyone relate? There doesn't seem to be another way to get work in the tech industry. There is not much relief for those of us with anxiety.

Just dropping a comment here because this is so interesting to me: I am the absolute opposite. I am extremely calm in interviews. For whatever reason when I am under pressure my brain just "turns on" and I'm immediately at my best. This has served me extremely well for interviewing and test taking. I've always felt bad for people that describe having nerves for important things like tests and interviews. Sounds like it honestly really sucks.

If I'm not stressed though, I am basically a complete fucking mess mentally. I can only really function at a high level if the stakes are high. This is why I graduated with a 2.9 GPA, but scored in the 94th percentile in my exit exams. I guess nobody gets it all, lmao

I used to feel like this, but I fear I've burnt out the circuit. I'm numb to stress now. The stakes are never high enough.

100% this. Especially since COVID

Sounds like you might have ADHD and the epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine surge gives you the ability to focus again. You might benefit from seeing a psychiatrist to establish whether you have ADHD and if treatment might help.

I second this, I'm the exact same way. Interviews have always been very easy due to the intense, thrilling focus.

As someone with ADHD I always joke that if I ever had to give up adderall I would just hire a homeless man to break in my house and hold a gun to my head so that I could focus.

I have... Both? I get extremely nervous but if I can make it through the first 2 minutes I hit a bit of a manic state and do really well. I play music and it's the same. For the first 30 seconds I'm trembling so much I can hardly play and then something just kicks in.

Anecdotally I think this is normal? I've heard actors and musicians can continue to get stage fright throughout their careers, but it fades after a minute or two.

I have exactly the same thing, I figured it was just my brain getting used to the adrenaline although I have no evidence or measurement of this.

Definitely experienced this as well playing music in public.

I also experienced a variation of it when I did karate. During sparring, once my sparring partners hit me for the first time, I was able to start focusing on sparring and not the fear of being struck.

The Harvard Crimson: Doping at the Philharmonic.


I relate to this. Turns out it was undiagnosed ADHD for me.

Lol haha, I just realized that my stellar interview record and ADHD are related. I freaking LOVE interviewing. Not just interviewing, I generally enjoy someone watching over me as I code. This is not something I have ever seen anyone else enjoy. I thought I was just a narcissist, but I don't enjoy any other sort of attention.

Seeing all those comments it looks like I finally have to get myself checked out. Thought too long about might having it and never got around actually talking to a psychiatrist.

I can focus very well in interviews or exams. They are even fun for me. But when I get the job and I don't have any concrete deadline, it's hard to focus for me and "get things done". Which ends up me thinking I am not good enough and falling into depression again. I can perform when I absolutely have to, but I never figured out how I can make it work outside those environments.

Same for me. It is a known “symptom,” dopamine floods the brain, we normalize and go into a hyperfocused mode.

same, and I think the same. how did you go about getting diagnosed?

(US Based Answer) - Talk to your GP and they can likely recommend a local specialist who does the testing.

What was the value that you saw in getting it diagnosed? I'm sure many people live their whole life without having a label for some of the stuff going on in their body/mind. If they're halfway through life and not obviously suffering, is it worthwhile?

If you actually have ADHD, trying a stimulant medication will tell you in 15 minutes how quiet everything is for people without ADHD.

You can get a treatment if you’re diagnosed with ADHD. Being halfway through life doesn’t mean you should just idly wait for death.

I think you misunderstand me. Somebody halfway through life isn't just sitting around waiting to die. But if there are ADHD indications and no obvious suffering or underperformance, it is clearly a condition that has been lived with. How valuable is the treatment at that point? There's quite a range between "meh, if it hasn't been a problem then it's probably not going to move the needle" and "it is lifechanging, you don't know what you're missing.". Sibling reply suggested the latter certainly _can_ happen. It seems like a number of posters in this thread have personal experience/wisdom to share.

So, I'm not diagnosed (though I recently had a member of my care team recommend going through an evaluation to maybe shed some light on things and am starting that process). Truth the "ask your GP" is generally the answer to any question on how to start a process in the US medical system.

I have high physical stress levels during interviews but it does not interfere with performance. I feel at ease and perform well under pressure because my mind feels clear and it is easy to focus and recall similar problems. I used to be a very competitive chess player and found that I could easily focus for 4-6 hours during a tense chess game.

But the high levels of arousal does show up in other ways. Higher heart rate, extra sweating, suppressed hunger, difficulty sleeping that night unless I find a way to destress. It's not something that my mind and body can sustain for weeks at a time. It's important to remember to take care of yourself and choose the stressful moments that matter.

Ditto. I'm anxious most of the time but when shit hits the fan at work I can calm down and just fix it without panicing. Never had a problem with interviews or presentations either.

I am a bit of both. I am completely immobilized on leetcode rounds (tons of side projects so interesting coding challenges are always present). However I am extremely on the ball with system design round! I think it has something to do with which I care about more! Almost disdainful of leetcode!

Sounds like you should get into high stakes poker and retire a few years from now.

I have a weird mix where tests and interviews are terrible, but the stress at work makes me smarter and more productive (to the point of being concerning, I can keep working forever).

I wish I had some help for tests, my brain is completely disabled. I either know the answer by heart (i have a terrible memory, so that's still bad) or my ability to reason is completely gone.

I envy your skill!

Dear god, that's me! Though I'm a wreck days before the interview.

I have ADHD, not sure if this has anything to do with it.

I used to feel this but every time I go through interviews it gets less. Used to be anxious the whole day beforehand. Now I feel anxious for the minute I’m waiting for the call to start and then I’m fine.

dropout with 99,7+ percentile in AGAT tests, yep, you should get ADHD tested

Maybe you are an Examinator?

this is basically me. stress focuses me

It's a very stressful hazing thing companies do. It's pretty annoying.

I have a different philosophy. I assume I will NOT get the job so therefore I'm not very stressed.

Let's me feel very free during interviews and I'll say whatever I think. I'll make jokes and I'll even call out the interviewer if they ask something crazy "okay I'll answer but did you just Google that question?".

I once had an interview where the guy said "we only hire the best and brightest here, and you might be a good fit, what do you think about that?"

I said "I don't think this a good fit for me". The guy was bewildered. I said "yeah I want to work with the dumbest and laziest people. I think I'm pretty good but if I'm competing against the best it's going to be harder to stand out. I'd rather work with the worst"

He was really floored and laughed and told me he really respected my view though. Idk, if I had worried about doing a good job I wouldn't have said that.

I'm not sure what my point is but I guess it's just that if you don't worry about getting it you won't be as nervous.

This works for me in most scenarios. I always assume things won't go my way. Makes my life easier, less unexpected/unwanted surprises.

It does make me less social though, since I automatically assume people don't want anything to do with me and I won't initiate any contact, even in cases it's likely not true. This would have been a problem if it mattered a lot to me.

> I assume I will NOT get the job

I apply that philosophy as much as I can. I get good results. But from time to time I get excited about some prospect of a job (or anything else) and thinking that doesn't feel so good.

I counter that feeling by assuming that the job will probably not be that great in the end. It tempers my expectations. My gf would do this a lot, she'd get so excited for a possible job but then when she got it she got brought back to reality, and many times ended up hating it. Yet every time she's optimisitic.

I'd rather just say "It's a job, I might like it for a while, it might have some big benefits, but even if I really enjoy it it won't fix everything in my life".

This allows me to be excited but not overly so.

Interviewers really appreciate honesty and if they don't it's a flag. My last interview for the current role I am in, I was confident as I knew I could do what they expected of me. They asked me if I knew a certain automation deployment tool, I just replied nope and that was it, no follow up 'I am sure I could learn it blah, blah blah'. The interviewer just made a kind, sure, OK shrug and I was offered the role a week later.

That's probably easy enough if you're just job shopping while still working, but if you're out of money and need a job pretty urgently I don't imagine that'd be so easy to do...

It’s a developed skill. When I was freelancing, I was at times pretty pressed to get that project or take on this client.

I forced myself to never beg, always be willing to walk away, accept that I might not get the gig and generally try to not let the other party know of my desperation. It worked wonders on my confidence in negotiations and kept me from taking bad deals that would have prevented me from getting better ones.

I’m be no means saying that is easy. It really is not, but it is something that can be learned.

Drinking, or using substance, to control your emotions is a dangerous path to go down. It let me to develop a habit that I luckily were able to break before it turned into a bigger problem.

If I was desperate I wouldn't say those things. I'd go out of my way to say "If you just give me a chance I promise I'll kill it, nights, weekends, whatever it takes".

I have been desperate before but I wasn't aloof. This is just the tactic I use when it's not life or death.

This may work for somebody who has an anxiety disorder, but that's not what the OP is talking about. He's basically talking about stage fright. It's a physiological reaction to "performing".

It's hard to say what his actual issue is. A lot of the reason performing has a physiological reaction is because you are afraid of failing, or afraid of looking dumb. If you get more comfortable with failing and looking dumb than your stress will go down.

I used to be deathly afraid of public speaking. But I assume I'll bomb (though I usually don't) and I'm okay with that. It's fine, people make mistakes. Now I don't have an issue with it. You still have some adrenaline so you can perform well but you don't have the dread.

I have no issues with the wine before hand but here is an alternative.

I wear a leopard print thong to interviews, they are my interview man-panties. (I do wear pants over them) I am a large, hairy, ugly man with no reason to wear this under normal circumstances. No matter how much wine my wife drank she would not be impressed. On the day of the interview, I feel special. Not sexy, but special. I know something the interviewers don't know. The pinching of my ding and dongles reminds me of this. It also makes it hard to take the interview too serious. Bonus, when you get home and take them off, any stress is instantly relieved.

This may sound like a joke but I am serious. I think the reason it works for me is because it reminds me that I am in charge. I do what I want. I am literally not dressing to impress.

An interview is often perceived as a candidate trying to impress the employer. BS. It is two (equal) parties trying to find if they are a good match. I don't want to work in a place if I am not a good fit, not skilled enough, or not wanted. If I don't get offered a job then I am not wanted there or valued by the company- well I wouldn't want to work at that place. If I don't get the job, I didn't want it anyway- I see this as truth. Perhaps a mental trick on myself but if so, I fall for it every time.

I think the wine solution would mesh well with my man-thong technique. I may add wine to my system. I am currently drinking Keystone (piss-water) beer. If I drank a couple glasses of fancy-pants 2022 refreshing white Franzia while donning my undergarments I would be unstoppable.

Your mileage may vary. I am currently unemployed but happy as hell so... whatevs, grain of salt. Best of luck.

There was a character that did this in the HBO show (Oz). A high functioning executive, brokering big deals and on the outside looked the part perfectly. Except for that one little secret.

Thanks for sharing, it's an interesting life hack. But one of those things you have to try I suppose to understand. I'm still on the fence though :)

Personally, I put about 30 dollars of pennies up my ass the week before the interview. The trick is to then spend them.

How did you first discover this technique?

This seems pretty much just variation of advice for people afraid of audience to imagine them naked or otherwise humiliated/funny.

Could also be the Alter Ego Effect (there's a book with the same title about it).


This post is an alarming data point showing that leetcode style interviews are damaging to people's health and need to be removed as soon as possible.

I personally dealt with the same issues but have refused to use any medication or alcohol to deal with the stress of performing under time pressure. None of this should be necessary.

Interesting that the wiki says that the performance enhancing effect comes from a lower heart rate, which is something you can influence with practice.

You can lower your resting heart rate naturally through exercise over time, and meditation and breathing techniques with practice give you control of your heart rate in the moment.

How do you recommend we do interviews going forward?

Assume people are smart, tell them about the actual job & and it’s responsibilities, tell them about the challenges of the job, ask them if it actually sounds like an interesting position, and then test them a bit on relevant things to see if they sounds reasonably competent.

Absolutely preposterous. Are you suggesting we interview folks for the job at hand?

Sarcasm aside, I’ve started interviewing people with “mock work day” style materials and it’s been pretty effective at determine who has been doing this for a decade, who can do this with a couple months to ramp up, and who is entirely faking it.

I’ll have folks combing through mock stacktraces, creating a new endpoint, connecting to a local database, and even doing a little bit of multithreaded design. I’ll assess completion against quality of the solution and factor in how long it takes someone to complete it.

Can you tell whose doing it for the first time or are they lumped into fakers?

That’s a difficult determination to make, but usually that’s the difference between someone who can walk me through the solution and stumble on the implementation, and someone who can’t explain to me what’s going on.

Lots of this stuff is language agnostic, so I keep that in mind too. For example, a stacktrace is a stacktrace in any language. However, we usually don’t extend offers to folks doing things for the first time, as we need a quick ramp up.

We generally don’t find it too big an ask for engineers to be familiar with the basics of Spring, or can SSH into and debug remote boxes. If someone doesn’t know this, they’re generally a college grad. Otherwise, unfortunately, it’s not the talent we’re looking for.

So back to what we did pre-Google.

Or we could make things worse. Let’s just start making all interviews an techno escape room.

Evaluate people on past projects. If you have a project, show the code and walk through the code in a screen sharing session. Only show code that is non-confidential.

If you do not have code, then first create a small project. That can be done in a week or two. This requires less time than grinding leetcode.

Some people will say: but you need to be able to solve a problem in under a few minutes. That is utter bullshit. We all know that development doesn't work that way in reality.

>Evaluate people on past projects. If you have a project, show the code and walk through the code in a screen sharing session. Only show code that is non-confidential.

Lots of bullshitters out there will find some code they don't own, study it and become well-versed in how it works, and fake their way through.

>If you do not have code, then first create a small project. That can be done in a week or two. This requires less time than grinding leetcode.

Do you mean one of those "interview projects"? Lots of people, especially on HN, would balk at this as "blah blah don't do free work". Those same people will then go back to your first point and say "just evaluate people on their experience.

> Only show code that is non-confidential.

Back in the day, it was normal to get your former boss to sign off on showing a piece of code in your next round of interviews.

I am self employed so I can sign off on anything.

Are you going to convince someone with another day job to do this so you can try to convince them to work at your company instead?

This filters out the best

Those people can’t take a few hours to make a small project? They can just make one and take it to multiple interviewers

If you cannot manage to build something in a few weeks time in your spare time then there is absolutely no way you can be "the best".

"The best" may spend their "spare" time raising children, doing volunteer work, or simply unwinding - just because you didn't sell that time to an employer doesn't mean there aren't demands on it, or that you're obligated to spend every waking moment engaging in some form of labor. Having personal time to devote to programming isn't a function of job performance, it's a function of your particular life circumstances.

And if you created a huge incentive to fabricate personal projects, a cottage industry of people who will create something cool on your GitHub in a way that looks authentic would spring up, and you'd be prioritizing people with the wealth and inclination to cheat over other candidates.

grinding leetcode to prep for interviews takes a lot more time. how can you have a CS degree and a career and have no personal projects? i graduated in CS with 4 programming projects done.

all the arguments you give are the same for leetcode prep. the difference is that if it is your own code that you walk through you need to prep a lot less. and that is good because in your situation you would not be able to grind hundreds of irrelevant problems in your spare time for each interview.

as far as your cottage industry argument… you can tell if someone did not write his own code and the system is being gamed right now anyway by people taking interviews for others and so on. and this thread shows people are medicating which is the worst.

> how can you have a CS degree and a career and have no personal projects?

Other people's lives differ from yours in ways that are difficult to imagine. Plenty of people have a career in programming without ever going to college. Just because one can't imagine it doesn't make it invalid, or even that it is one's business. If it isn't about their job performance, don't measure it.

> all the arguments you give are the same for leetcode prep.

An interesting point, but of course I wasn't defending leetcode interviews, I was responding to your assertion that people who have the requisite skills necessarily have free time, and the subtext that any time not spent working was available for more working.

With basic honesty, instead of this constant double-bluff pressure chamber approach that is 'the norm.'

The technical interview for my current job was phenomenal.

It was a leetcode style interview (maybe it was through hackerrank? I dont remember), but it was just writing code to hit a JSON-based HTTP API and collect the results into a list. I was encouraged to google things, and explain what I was thinking about in relation to the task.

The task was trivial if you've done it before, but probably not easy if you didn't know how to write code. While doing that task, I was able to expand on my knowledge by talking about what my code was doing.

It was in python, and I was doing it recursively (because that's what I like), so I was talking about how performance optimizations would be to make it iterative instead, if needed. I got into explaining this was because python doesn't have TCO recursion, so it just blows up the call stack if it's too large.

The interviewers were chatty, and were happy to banter and in general be cordial during the interview as well, which I really liked.

At the end of it, I felt really good about the interview and was confident that I had "passed".

Don't treat programming as performance art. Some are great performers, but many are not. Don't force them to do something that's unnatural like code on a whiteboard. A whiteboard is not an interactive medium. A computer is. It's OK to riff on a computer the way you do on guitar. I know few that get it right the first time. Everybody thinks its all orchestration but Joe Beda points out the improvisation going back at least five years. He wasn't the first and likely won't be the last.

You may see Donald Knuth once in a career. It's rare. Don't expect it from everyone.

As an interviewee I use badly copied FAANG style as a red flag. Most will cargo cult interview styles copying what they've seen without thinking much about it. I've seen people memorize and pass interviews because Gayle Laakman McDowell's book was so overused. Do we really believe memorizing the book is better than not testing everyone exactly the same? I don't.

As a person who's sat on both sides of the table, I'm a huge believer in technical conversations, but I believe that's very different than code. To me, programming is not a performance art.

I recommend a few things:

1. Ask for sample code, preferably with git history showing that the author did most of the work or it was pairs or something like that. Ask lots of code review questions: why, how, alternatives, etc. Public github repos are fine. Private git repos are fine too. It's the history that tells the story both in terms of code frequency, velocity, revisions, tests, style, etc. 2. Use a pull request style in which the interviewee is the reviewer: what's wrong with this code? How should it improve? Is it good enough for MVP? What about production? Good opportunity to test whether they can speak truth to power when you show them rubbish that is patently wrong. I always hated reviewing bosses code when I had to march into their office and tell them they needed to fix their broken class inheritance or whatever. Interview is a good time to test for assertiveness. 3. Use pairs style where the interviewer is the keyboard/mouse driver and the interviewee is the navigator/commenter keeping the driver on track. 4. Ask them to bring their own hw/sw stack. Examine the choices and reach your own conclusions asking questions about why/how they arrive at their stack when no one is guiding the choices but them or their influencers. They don't really need to do much, more than a show/tell, explaining choices and why/how. To me, this is really interesting philosophically, particularly if it gets into stuff like *nix that are not the typical ubuntu, fedora, etc. and go off into arch derivatives or left field in a telling, R&D way such as shell, package managers, tmux, language, lint, tests, and so on.

Hope this helps.

I mean I understand it, but there is an almost unlimited supply of positions available, and no real reason to be stressed by an interview. The worst thing that can happen is you fail it and try the next one.

It sounds like you never had to deal with a mental health issue and have a personality that is compatible with the process. That is great. Not everyone has that luxury. Many engineers are introverted people, possibly dealing with things like inferiority complex, imposter syndrome, anxiety, depression and more.

Please don't presume anything about people's mental health. I have alcoholism, social anxiety and depression.

I stated my point badly, obviously anxiety is not rational, but on a rational level the stakes of a job interview are quite low (you can take another). It's not like stage fright where if you mess up your performance you could lose your job - you'll likely never see these people again. In that respect it's a bit closer to social anxiety.

Thank you.

I mean many tens of thousands of people have been laid off in recent weeks. If you're single and have savings in the bank, sure, maybe it's not a big deal, just look for the next one. If you've got a spouse, children, and mortgage, the stakes are different.

I apologise. I'm not in the US and evidently there's a lot of stuff going on that makes my comment insensitive.

It's hard to understand if you're not affected by it. You've heard the term "Stage Fright"? This is the same. Something about being put in a "performance" situation triggers the fight or flight reflex. At first, you're a deer in the headlights. Then, your body floods with adrenaline. The whole thing makes higher level thinking extremely difficult. I don't agree with the parent poster that it's "damaging to people's health", though. It's just something that happens. You recover pretty fast afterwards.

You do realize that emotions are by definition not something you can easily reason yourself out of? Not everyone reacts the same way, good for you that you can approach it "in cold blood", so to say.

Yes, that's what I meant by "I understand it". Obviously anxiety is not rational, but on a rational level the stakes of an interview are lower than a lot of other things.

I think the part that I don't understand is how you can say that you understand it but then follow up with something that seems like a lack of understanding. : )

Yes, we know it doesn't make sense to be stressed about it, and yet we still are stressed. Saying that we shouldn't be is not constructive IMO.

Meh. That's kind of the whole point of CBT after all. It might not seem helpful but if you practice it enough it can help. And I say that as someone with plenty of social anxiety!

I wouldn’t be surprised if this were really common. Interviews are cut throat nowadays, you can bet people will do anything they can for an edge. If prepping 200 leetcode questions is common, PEDs likely are as well.

I’ve used .25-.5mg clonazepam in interviews, which is a low dose (think 1 beer). Clonazepam is ideal since it has a long half life and will last an entire day of interview rounds. Benzos can leave you pretty sharp without dulling you down or leaving you silly or clumsy like alcohol. Also, people won’t be able to smell them on you. They remove the background noise and allow me to focus on the task at hand. I haven’t tried beta blockers.

The whole interview song and dance is ridiculous nowadays.

I would advise strong caution against this unless you have used any benzo before. I remember I tried one once before a long, 4 hour interview. I literally don't remember a thing I said or did the rest of the day including the interview.

Which one did you use? Some are fast acting and intense, clonazepam not so much.

One of the worst things about generic drugs is that the dosages (maybe even the molecules) can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The FDA rules are that drugs need to be within 80% of the stated dose, but in my experience that's not the case. Maybe you got one of the "good" batches. It's a serious problem for people with diseases that require precise dosing, epilepsy for example, since they depend on medicines like benzodiazepines that can have serious withdrawal effects.

I used a friend's xanax. Admittedly I should've trialed it beforehand, mistake on my part. I just remember feeling a really strong relaxation and nothing afterwards. I did get an offer but I still wonder today if I said anything questionable during the interview.

How long did you work there?

It's interesting that there is such bias against alcohol, and pro taking prescription meds instead. I'm not talking about alcoholism here, I'm talking about a little wine in a limited use scenario.

Yeah that seems weird to me. I would think prescription meds would be way riskier, especially if used for something other than their normal purpose. But even if they aren't, a small amount of alcohol sounds essentially risk-free.

Regardless, if a glass of wine is enough for you, it seems silly to go through the trouble of getting a doctor to diagnose you with anxiety and prescribe something for it. A lot more work for... what, really? Sure, if you actually do have a general anxiety problem, it's probably a good idea to get that checked out. But if you just get anxious in specific rare scenarios (like interviews), that seems like overkill.

It’s possible that the bias is deserved. Alcohol, as a drug, strictly speaking, is one of the worse ones.

The idea that “prescription meds” (a group containing everything from antibiotic eyedrops to morphine) should somehow blanket be considered “worse” than alcohol (usually simply because alcohol is available without a prescription) is a little bit of silly and unscientific bias itself.

I also know a lot more alcohol addicts resulting from self-medicating for anxiety than I do benzo addicts from self-medicating for anxiety.

> alcohol addicts resulting from self-medicating for anxiety

Sure, but we're talking about OP's "mug with wine in it" during the span of an interview, not a pattern of drinking to excess.

> Alcohol, as a drug, strictly speaking, is one of the worse ones.

Citation needed? Certainly it's worse than some potential prescription options out there, but... c'mon, it's alcohol. Humanity has been using it for millennia. As long as there's no abuse involved, a mug of wine during an interview sounds like the definition of harmless.

> Humanity has been using it for millennia.

Humanity has also been using refined carbohydrates, woodsmoke, theism, and fossil fuels for millennia. The fact that something has been around for a long time does not mean that it is not bad and harmful.

There is no amount of “harmless” alcohol consumption. Alcohol is unambiguously bad for human health.

It always starts with wine in the mug here and there to everyday they get stressed. These are definitely signs of alcoholism. People love their alcohol though so a lot of people will defend alcoholics.

I find my interview anxiety is directly connected to how much sheer preparation I do. There is no substitute for this.

Spend several hours: scouring the internet for common AND uncommon interview questions. Draft strong responses to all of them. Map out your values and reasons why they are what they are. Specific professional qualities you exhibit PLUS multiple anecdotes explaining those qualities.

Then- research the damn company. Hard. Train yourself in their tone and the story they tell about themselves. WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK FOR THEM?

Mostly importantly: Draft up thoughtful interview questions to ASK. Both general role questions and questions about the industry etc.

This takes time, and practice. But man, when you do it, you feel like a fucking boss going into an interview. And that unlocks the most important part. Mindset.

(For developers and other highly specialized roles, this isn’t exhaustive because you have steps to test your technical skills, but hopefully that helps. I gotten several jobs I’m under-qualified for by using this method)

Ironically in my latest job search the interview I prepared the least for was the one that led to an offer. Put aside the pressure you put on yourself to succeed and you'll probably end up doing alright. I think it's similar to dating--the more effort you put into being liked by the other person the more desperate you seem and the more likely you are to be rejected. If the interviewer detects that you desperately need the job and are just saying what they want to hear, they'll probably be more likely to reject you. Not a hard and fast rule by any means, more like a quirk of human psychology.

Sure. Some people can pull that off. Doesn’t sound like OPs problem.

Also there’s a difference between over-preparing and coming in with a desperate attitude. You’re right that if you have the latter, you’re fucked. Going in with confidence, curiosity, and detachment are important too.

Totally agreed - I interviewed with the same company twice, first without preparing enough, and then again after lots of prep. The first time, very anxious, got mentally blocked. The second time, better!

Related: alcohol is prohibited as a performance-enhancing substance in most archery and shooting competitions.

And to most hunters, alcohol is encouraged as a performance-enhancing substance.

I believe this is even reflected in some video games, where drinking will give you “deadeye” for a period, rendering your shots more accurate.

Is that a joke, stereotype, or a serious proposition? I've only ever been hunting trips that started so early in the morning that nobody drank anything other than coffee. Afterwards, sure. Maybe there's another way.

> Is that a joke, stereotype, or a serious proposition?

Yes, certainly.

On a multi-day trip where the vast majority of the time is spent not seeing anything, and a vanishing percent is seeing something very briefly and needing to ready your gun, calm your nerves, aim, fire, in less than a second... you find any way possible to minimize time spent in the "calm your nerves" portion and improve the accuracy of the "aim, fire" one.

If that ties in with improved mood during the "not see anything" potion, even better.

But required for darts and snooker.

I assume that’s a safety thing, not a level-playing-field thing.

No, in small doses it enhances performance by lowering heart rate, reducing anxiety, slowing breathing, etc. All are important in sports like rifle shooting.

Performance-enhancing indicates it makes shooting easier.

I'm sure only to a certain point of consumption. There's surely a "Ballmer Peak" equivalent.


Of course: if you're seeing double, you went too far!

Of course.

I compete in pistol shooting at an amateur level. I have never been even slightly intoxicated when shooting a firearm. But I shoot 10m air pistol[1] at home for practice, and I've tried it while a little tipsy. So I can tell you that for sure, 3+ drinks will have you thinking you're doing well when in fact your vision is so delayed from reality that you cannot call your shots accurately. You'll think it was a good shot and it was a 7.

But one or two drinks in, there is a small performance boost. It comes from not 2nd-guessing yourself. You just hold on target and watch it happen.

Pistol shooting is a lot about quieting the mind because nobody can hold the gun perfectly steady. You get the best results from accepting a little bit of natural wobble, and smoothly operating the trigger during the smallest part of that wobble pattern. If you try to shoot the gun right as the sights cross the bullseye you will typically throw the shot off badly. Even if you don't yank the trigger, your reaction time is such that the wobble has moved on by the time you react to it looking perfect, so you end up grouping all around the 10 ring instead of in it this way.

The other thing you'll do in pursuit of perfection is hold too long on the target, not happy with how large your wobble is. You end up holding for 10+ seconds and by the time you break the shot your vision is suffering from the Troxler effect[2] and your hold has gotten worse, not better -- you just think it's good because you aren't seeing it as clearly.

It is best to steadily break the shot not at a specific instant, but anytime within your mostly 9-ring ideal wobble area. You settle into this good wobble zone for a few seconds, perhaps from 3 to 7 seconds after putting the gun on target. By Gaussian distribution you will shoot a lot of 10s, a fair amount of 9s, and a scarce handful of 8s.

But I cannot tell you how hard it is to convince yourself to do this! The mind thinks it can make the gun fire when it touches the 10. It also thinks that the wobble is way, way bigger than it really is, and that you'll shoot 7s if you let it happen. You'll even panic subconsciously right before the shot breaks when it looks "imperfect" and twitch to try to fix the alignment at the last moment -- always terrible.

A little depressant makes it much easier to relax and confidently break the shot in that "good enough" zone. Don't get me wrong, it'll never turn an amateur like me (520 - 550, depending on the day) into a top shooter (580+). But it does make it easier to perform on the 540+ side of my average.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISSF_10_meter_air_pistol [2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troxler%27s_fading

I shot rimfire bullseye with my father growing up, but I live in a city now and have gotten away from the hobby. Action shooting takes up all the air in American gun culture; I always found it very calming.

Action shooting is definitely the hotter sport right now. But I think bullseye will stay around, especially as the current generation of action shooters ages into it. It has one huge advantage over action: every competitor can shoot at the same time, up to the capacity of the range. If you go to a bullseye match, you get to shoot for a few hours. If you go to an action pistol match you spend hours waiting around only to shoot for a few minutes.

Beta blockers also banned iirc, so I don’t think it’s a safety thing

Tylenol is cheaper and safer as an anti-anxiety solution: "... One of the most ubiquitous is Tylenol, one of many options available for general relief of pain and headaches. What differentiates Tylenol from other options, like Advil or ibuprofen, is the ingredient acetaminophen. And while acetaminophen provides a good fix for a stubbed toe, it may also offer psychological relief for feelings of anxiety and social rejection. Not bad for an OTC..." drug.


Interesting, I have never found Tylenol to change my emotional or mental state.

The active ingredient acetaminophen is anti-inflammatory which is where the reduced anxiety effects come from, perhaps you're not suffering from inflammation enough for it to take effect

Congrats you have stage fright. Join a toastmasters nearby and work on your public speaking and presentation skills and build your confidence. After just a few sessions you’ll be interviewing the interviewer and impressing the shot out of them.

This a good a solution that extends to other aspects of a job as well. It also doesn't lead to possible dependence like other solutions.

If it ever gets to this point for me I’m leaving the industry. Some of the comments here are insane. It’s a job interview, if there’s that much complexity and pressure involved…

Ask what kind of jobs these people are applying for. I apply for low 6 fig jobs and I have never been asked to write an algorithm or any kind of live coding.

The most complex stuff I have been asked were things like “what’s your process for improving application performance” or “what’s an n+1 query”

I assume if I was asking for $250k at a mega tech company, it gets a lot harder.

I’ve applied for $60k online chat support jobs and was asked how to check the if you could make a connection to a remote server (I said use ssh and was told the correct answer was telnet), and asked by an executive how much I experience I had as a freelance developer. I explained the crud app I was working on and where it could go and the reasoning why I used certain tools and that apparently wasn’t enough.

Great you had such easy questions for your 6 figure interview though.

Everyone knows it’s nc:)

This was a big nosql company and when I brought up that said database could plausibly be used for data warehousing, the dude interviewing me looked at me like I had 3 eyes.

I meant netcat; but I know what you are talking about. Tried and true isn’t mongo level webscale!

I figured nc was some terminal utility, and I hope your intent is to point out that there are numerous “right” answers (in which case, thanks)

Was actually called by one of their recruiters, I think she found my linked in because I call myself a “linux enthusiast” on there, and sometimes I wonder if I should take that down but I haven’t yet. I guess I also messed up by telling executive dude that I was more of an relational db guy than nosql guy. Should’ve said something about mongo level webscale :)

People have drunk alcohol for thousands of years for some reason or other. barbituates and amphetamines go back nearly a century now (they were pretty popular by WWII). Barbituates were pretty unsafe and were pretty much replaced by the benzodiazepines by the 90's I think. That is to say that these drugs, pressures, and medical issues predate the software industry.

This will always be the case for high compensation positions. In any human society, at any point in human history.

Look for lower pay at smaller companies outside of major markets if you're looking for something without that aspect. You can often set the terms.

In my college linguistics class the prof told us about a study involving adult language learners that measured foreign language fluency against number of drinks consumed. Fluency went way up with one drink, peaked at two drinks, and rapidly fell off after that.

Outside academia, I once played in a band where the singer got nervous before every show. Things went a lot better once we persuaded her to start having a drink (one drink) before going onstage.

I always go into a performance or an interview fine but then have a panic halfway through. The trick is to recover from that and keep things moving.

Interesting idea. Many years ago when I was learning French I seemed to speak it much better after a drink or two with a French speaking neighbor. Maybe it was less worry over grammar though I can't say I felt nervous speaking to them when sober - my communication just seemed faster and smoother with a drink.

Not a doctor. I'm not really aware of ACE inhibitors as anxiolytics, but beta blockers are pretty classicly used off label for performance anxiety because they blunt the effects of adrenaline (your symptoms are pretty on the nose). Benzodiazepines (like Xanax) are actual tranquillizers, and doctors aren't always thrilled to prescribe them because they can be a bit addictive, but job interview anxiety is a pretty good indication for most docs I think. I'd say most options are better than alcohol, but you're far from the first person to choose that option.

I updated to beta blockers. Thanks for pointing that out.


Take 20 milligrams of propranolol, 1.5 hours (90 minutes) before your first interview.

It works for presentations and speeches, too.

Propranolol is a beta blocker and you can easily get a prescription for "performance anxiety" if you ask your doctor. It has a long history of chronic use at higher doses for blood pressure control, so it's very safe at the 20mg dosage. Just ask your doctor and you'll get the prescription.

It has negligible direct effect on the brain. It is NOT a tranquilizer.

But your body will be dead calm -- no adrenaline at all. And indirectly this will calm your mind.

I don’t get nervous with leetcode interviews because to me it’s just a coin flip. I feel that I have essentially no control over the outcome of the interview.

I was much more stressed about exams in school because I felt that I “ought to know” these things, and I’d feel awful if I failed. I wouldn’t feel bad if I failed a leetcode interview because it’s all arbitrary anyway.

(I should disclose that I’ve only ever done two coding interviews and I took the job both times, so I don’t have the most relevant experience.)

Yes, it's actually really common. Not only for interviewing but for important meeting as well.

Besides alcohol, there are other alternatives:

- beta blockers as you've mentioned (though you really need to know your normal blood pressure and/or consult with a doctor).

- L-Theanine works really well (without any coffee).

- nicotine (hit-or-miss since it's an upper for some and downer for others, these are cigars no cigarettes, should not contain any additives but tobacco alone).

I drink before I post on HN, so I appreciate the honesty. It's gotten me rate limited more than once, though.

I think some of us, especially caffeine addicts with high social anxiety, can benefit from a drink before making that business call we don't want to deal with. I often think better and am more lucid (and way chiller) after one or two beers. Self medicating isn't the end of the world; other medications for anxiety are a lot harder to dial in correctly. But you do have to watch out and make sure you haven't overmedicated, which is difficult. Alcohol has a way of driving your gauge for yourself out of whack very slowly in a way you don't notice.

An anecdote from my father, who was a lawyer in the 1960s. He never ate breakfast or lunch. He just drank coffee. He let himself get ramped up all day and waited until 3pm to start calling opposing lawyers to negotiate settlements. By that point, he said, they'd all had a martini or two at lunch and just wanted to go home, giving him the edge. Of course, at 5pm sharp he was a regular alcoholic like everyone else. To him, though, this represented a very high level of self control.

I don't want to lecture anyone, but as a person that until recently used alcohol way too much as a crutch in their life, it's really not a good solution. The problem is when it wears off, the anxiety will return but extra. Think maybe 1.2x what it was before, but if you keep using it then to address that anxiety that multiplier gets ugly.

If you're getting really nervous for interviews, you might consider why you're investing so much importance to the interview itself. It's just a job, and their opinion of you should not impact your opinion of yourself. If they choose not to hire you (which is, generally speaking, most likely), or you choose not to accept, that's really a blessing. It means you both figured out it was the wrong fit before anyone got too invested. I just left a job after only a couple days because I realized it was the wrong fit, and I feel awful about it, I wish I had grilled them more during the interview process and vice versa. It's much better to get a "no" than a "yes" that isn't right.

I used to do that(w/ beta blockers). Now I exercise, take a cold shower, and do wim hof breathing. It's just about as effective, while making me more mentally sharp rather than less

I honestly think depriving your brain of oxygen for that long is not good for you. There’s a reason yoga explicitly restricts this particular breathing exercise for only a few moments and that’s where wim hoff picked it up. I know the study with him exists but unless they do it on a large control group it’s meaningless imo. Also wim hoff sounds pretty… slow when he’s speaking and I don’t mean in a relaxed way.

I've considered that, but it's been used for some time by a large amount of people and I've yet to find reports of common problems. There's not much real evidence for that. Contrary to that, I tend to feel better after moderate practice. I wish there was more study but I don't feel uncomfortable about it really

I’ve not interviewed under a high stakes situation for a very long time. So it’s hard for me to relate directly. I’m sure if I really needed a job, or I was really excited for a position it would be different.

All the interviews I’ve taken in the last 10 years have been with passing interest on my part. And I go into it more as an interview of the company, and much less care about if they think I’m hitting some arbitrary bar. For me its been a pretty freeing approach. If they pass on me, I can respect that I wasn’t a good fit (and the feeling was probably mutual). And like someone else posted in the comments it allows for me to completely disregard stupid questions.

I recognize that it’s a luxury to have that kind of approach. Additionally I think drinking prior to an interview is completely fine.

>All the interviews I’ve taken in the last 10 years have been with passing interest on my part. And I go into it more as an interview of the company, and much less care about if they think I’m hitting some arbitrary bar.

This is honestly how I've treated every interview. I'm mostly concerned about whether the position is a good fit for me. I treat the questions they ask me as if I was chatting with a coworker since I figure that shows them what I'm like to work with.

You should definitely try beta blockers instead. Just ask your doctor, say it's for public speaking - they'll probably give it to you, it's a very common issue. Very few side effects for occasional use and completely dampens the adrenaline response

+1 for beta blockers. A lot of professional musicians use it for auditions and what not

Sure? Went on a snowboard weekend getaway once, instructor recommended a beer as a class in the bottle because then you are relaxes. But just one beer. Since you probably interview no more than couple of times a year on average, don't see anything problematic. Now if you found yourself relying on liquid courage in your daily life, you would want to make some adjustments. If you are looking to relax a bit without impaired judgement or calories, try Kava instead of alcohol for example.

I can totally relate to having the condition, but I've never tried alcohol for treating it. When you do eventually get access to healthcare again (assuming you're addled by the failed US healthcare system like I am - healthcare being only accessible via employer provided health insurance...) see a psychiatrist about this and ask about social anxiety medication. Paxil was particularly effective for me at one point in time. It takes a few months to fully kick in but when it does, the effect doesn't really feel all that massive, you just kind of notice a sort of...ease that you may not have had before. May sound somewhat alien to you now, but I encourage you to give that a try as a more long-term solution than using alcohol. It's definitely a hell of a lot safer!

That said, I do NOT judge you for using a glass of wine to get you through a pinch in a tough time, and to hell with anyone who does. Use what you've got, get the job done. When you're through hell, THEN you can focus on the better long-term option. But for now, do what you gotta do.

That said, IF you have access to a licensed psychiatrist who can prescribe something, you could use goodrx.com as a temporary stand-in for insurance. I'm seeing prices for genric paxil (paroxetine) at 30 tabs of 40mg for about $22 bucks via CVS with GoodRX here in Texas right now, so it may be an option for you. That said, it does take time to kick in, and mixing with alcohol is ill-advised. Still, I do suggest this as your main option, but again, no judgement for doing what ya gotta do.

Good luck to you, regardless.

I’d rather have some alcohol in a situation like this that happens a couple of times a year at most and not become dependent on some daily anxiety pharmaceutical.

20+ years ago I was a young soldier, a Chinese-mandarin military linguist, preparing for his OPI (oral proficiency interview) for a special job.

If I got a high score, I would get the job. That meant leaving the barracks, not having to wear a uniform, and flying around the world pretending to be a serious adult doing serious things.

Before the interview, which was held with a panel of two native speakers, my supervisor told me to drink some beer. I had two Tommyknocker Nut Brown Ales. At lunch, about an hour before the interview I just pounded them, didn't even taste them (they're good), because that's all I had.

I honestly don't remember the interview (and didn't at the time-- due to stress not intoxication) but apparently words came flowing out from me like water in a fast-moving river. I told jokes. Talked constantly for 30 minutes.

I scored a 3, which was high enough to pass, got the job and got to fly around the world pretending to be a serious adult doing serious things.

A little, A LITTLE, ethanol goes a long way.

> Before the interview, which was held with a panel of two native speakers, my supervisor told me to drink some beer.

FWIW, i can attest that being slightly inebriated helps one speak a non-native language. My German is much more fluid when i'm tipsy than it is when i'm sober. The difference, in my experience, is that you don't worry about saying everything just right and instead just say things as they come to mind. That leads to more fluid flow of the language rather than pausing every few words to consult one's mental dictionary.

I have similar anxiety and my approach has been to take on a 10-20 interviews for jobs I don't care about and put little effort into, and keep getting rejections until I've become emotionally numb to the anxiety. After I reach that point I normally get 1-3 offers in the next 2 weeks once I start applying to places I want

Hello kindred soul. I can relate. I have done interviews drunk myself.

I have anxiety peaks at ANY minimally, potentially dangerous situation. If my landlord sends me a message. If my boss says we need to talk. If someone has the slightest negative reaction to anything I said (I have severely low self-steam). Even if I receive mail or email from any place that can be any danger (like about taxes) it triggers my anxiety.

Unfortunately, alcohol is a god-sent medicine to this problem. And because of that, I have drunk at least a bit in probably 90%+ of all the nights in the last 15 years. I have a serious case of alcoholism.

Someone in this thread mentioned that you are probably an alcoholic and I do agree. But you are probably an alcoholic because of your mental disorders. Of course, I can't be sure but I can speak for myself.

I've heard some people use propranolol to help with their anxiety for things like this as well. I used to drink before interviews as well, I've also tried xanax, and shit sometimes even a combination. It helped me get through them at the time but I don't know how overall helpful it was.

I recently went through the interview process as a sober guy and found that while I did get anxiety, it was a more healthy anxiety and not a crippling one. I'm on a low dose of an anti-anxiety medication (Buspirone) which I think helped; though I attribute it mostly to a better overall healthy state I've been in due to consistent exercise, healthy eating, and sleep. Not a super sexy answer outside of maybe the medication part.

I don't do this but I believe it. I always interview best when I don't care about the job because I have an offer I am ready to accept in hand already. I do feel like asking someone to do 2 medium questions in 45 minutes is primarily testing their cramming abilities and their lack of nervousness about the process. My strategy to combat this is to interview at places I really want to work at close to the end of the batch when I feel I have the most practice and already have an offer in hand because otherwise the anxiety from wanting to do well and excitement from caring about the position can really degrade my performance. It's like the interviewer can sense the anxiety and interprets it as incompetence instead of really caring about the role.

Yeah, I can relate. I found I performed much better after taking a hit of weed. Got myself into a new career, increased my salary 30%.

Something about being high made me listen more carefully. I could actually pay attention, block anxiety, and think properly.

Just don’t slip into dependency. It’s a very slippery slope…

Did a ctrl-f for keywords starting with "smoke" and then "weed" - relate with both you and OP. Different strokes for different folks, it could be adderall, beta blockers, some psych. microdose, or whiskey.

Indeed, tread responsibly.

Zooming out a bit though, maybe "work" or "making money" could be considered a drug or similar - don't want to overdo it there either.

I’ve taken 2-3 shots of vodka before a job interview. Helps me loosen up and not act like such a weirdo.

Whatever works for you and makes you relaxed whether it's alcohol, drugs or anything else.

I'd rather look for cause of anxiety, I mean if you are financially independent and you don't need the job you ara applying for, you don't need to worry about outcome at all and should be relaxed anyway because who gives a F whether they hire you or no. But I understand sometimes rational approach doesn't work, even when nothing is at stake body can be nervous.

I'm worrier and still ocassionally worry about meaningless things, but I think I improved over years, though not sure how, I think living in China for years hardened my skin considering how many times they try to F me over, so I am more relaxed in general.

I've noticed a similar effect with LeetCode although it's more than just a "little wine". Almost feels cruel given how much I struggle with the same problems when sober.

Not before interviewing, public speaking, business meetings, or any other interaction in which the rules and topics are predefined and understood. Those are very easy to handle.

But socializing? Meeting random new people? Parties and mixers? Yes, six drinks at an absolute minimum to start. Usually more, with periodic BAC maintenance drinks for the entire duration of the interaction or event.

Alcohol is an absolute godsend for those of us who don't know what to say when interacting with normies.

Modern software interviews are really testing how you handle stress. I've just done enough interviews to not freak out anymore. Sometimes I get presented with a puzzle and crash & burn, but most of the time I work through the problem.

I get maybe 50-50 reject or offer if I get an initial interview. When you realize a decent software dev can easily get 4-6 interview loops going (TYVM monthly who is hiring/wants to be hired threads) it really helps to put it in perspective.

Semi relatable. Marshawn Lynch "Beast Mode" of the seattle seahawks said that he would take a shot or two before the games to calm his nerves and things just flow.

professional baseball has its amphetamine era too. honestly a shot or two seems logical far as pain management goes - but ibuprofen could potentially be comparable

Beta blockers like Propanalol are a good choice. They’re not addictive and they’re not intoxicating. Your doctor will probably be willing to prescribe you some.

Leetcode and Hacker Rank are some of the most dehumanizing processes of the tech industry. They are directly responsible for killing people.

Literally Hitler?

You could see a doctor. I get anxiety, but I make a point of pushing though it (which I assume means I don't get it badly enough) and don't like the idea of taking anything for it, including alcohol. But if you have to take something, there is probably more targeted medicine you can get that does not have the side effects and dependence problem of alcohol.

The other more targeted avenue is Benzodiazepines which are way more addictive.

I got my first job in IT thanks to a bit of Dutch courage. It allowed me to go and talk myself up to the manager that ended up hiring me.

The difference with my story is that this was at a recruitment event and the beers were supplied by the employer for all the attendees, but nevertheless yes I can relate.

I am the same, in a way. Not only I do bad in interviews but in general when relating with foreign people. I've been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. Taken treatment and therapy. It improves in time... not so much.

I can totally relate. I've been so nervous in an interview that I've had to excuse myself to go to the restroom and splash myself with water because I was sweating so profusely. I've been so nervous in interviews that I've become physically ill. It sucks.

I get this stressed in a whole set of meeting types that are uncomfortable or complicated socially and started doing a shot before those meetings and it made them a lot more bearable. It’s been life changing actually and really positive.

Drank a ton the night before, hung over and bloodshot as all hell the day of, but apparently did well enough. Did this four nights in a row back when I was binge interviewing five years ago. Of course I was marginally alcoholic back then too so....

I got my current job at a job fair. I was fucking loaded as I talked to the recruiter.

I can relate completely. This has cost me countless jobs and I have resorted to treating with beta blockers before interviewing. I may be using too low of a dosage because it doesn’t seem to be that effective in my experience.

I've had some success dancing before a virtual interview. Get your favorite guilty pleasure song on, crank it up, and dance for the last 5 minutes or so right before the interview. Shake those nerves out.

I take a beta blocker for unrelated reasons, but they do definitely help with this sort of thing and it’s easy to get a prescription, so I’d say there isn’t much harm in giving them a shot. Certainly better than alcohol!

Beta blockers don’t do the same thing at all. Beta blockers prevent you from exhibiting physical symptoms of anxiety like a shaky voice or pounding heart. They do nothing for mental symptoms of anxiety.

For some people, that physical feedback is most of the discomfort felt with anxiety. For others, it won't do much. There's a reason it's not always used

That’s incorrect. The beta in beta blocker refers to the beta adrenegeric receptors in your body , that are sensitive to neurotransmitters like adrenaline. The mental is the physical in this case, it’s why people tend to feel sluggish on beta blockers, you are slowing down your body’s internal clock. That’s why they are also classed as chronotropics.

There’s a big feedback cycle here. A pounding heart certainly won’t improve your mental state.

That's not correct - adrenaline (which is what beta blockers mess with the release of) absolutely has effects on brain function.

The Ballmer Peak works a lot better with alcohol than cocaine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGwgMeO5cF4

Beta blockers are the dirty little open secret of classical music auditions

Can you explain how does it actually work and how does it help with the audition?

Stops circulating adrenaline from being used. Aka no fight or flight response.

I seem to have a low conversion ratio with interviews but at no point was drinking a strategy. Would this be considered a performance enhancing drug and do employers even care or is that encouraged?

Whatever it takes, interviewing is basically a gladiator match. Also, you may have ADHD, while it has attention in the name, it is mostly an issue with executive function and emotional regulation.

My professor, Hi Dan!, once recommended I drink (get drunk?) before exams, but I never took his advice.

I didn't have much anxiety in his classes, but I did for every other Physics class.

Reminds me of the danish movie "Another Round".

> Four high-school teachers consume alcohol on a daily basis to see how it affects their social and professional lives.

Exactly. "[A Norwegian philosopher] claims humans are born with a blood alcohol content that's 0.05% too low." A movie directed by Thomas Vinterberg. The trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj8Jmz_srDg

I've done something similar but with CBD. It does not dull your senses as alcohol does, and it doesn't lead to (even the possibility of) alcoholism.

I think it’s perfectly fine if it’s mild drinking. If you are having issues with anxiety then definitely consider psychiatric drugs.

This suggests you're an alcoholic and your problems are more serious than simply getting nervous before interviews.

I take phenibut. All the social inhibition removal but none of the mental impairment of alcohol.

Fluorophenibut, both HCL and FAA, is the only thing that works for me, at something like 200mg. Regular Phenibut HCL gives me virtually no help, even at some ridiculous dosage like 5g. And I still get withdrawals the next day. Not worth it.

Go with the F-Phenibut.


I can totally relate, although I've yet to try drinking alcohol prior to an interview. I guess one would have to know how to hit the Balmer Peak [0] reliably.

Lately I've been using breathing to control my autonomic responses. Breath in for a count of 4, hold it for 7, and then exhale for 8. This seems to work well. Box breathing (breath in for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4 and hold for 4) is sometimes easier to do and not be noticed, but I don't find it as effective unless I'm doing more strenuous activities.

I have mild PTSD and can't always rely on normal responses to stress, when I'm feeling verbally attacked. Sadly I've never had an interviewer believe me when I've told them I'm having a panic attack and need a moment. They always assume that I'm stalling, or don't have an answer, which is sad, because I've always been a star employee once hired.


Closely related - Mitchell and Webb's Inebriati sketch - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Zj50DmBFp0

So I'm assuming you only mean one drink? Because I would think more alcohol would run the risk of people figuring out. Another issue is the anti anxiety effects of alcohol wear off before the interview is over. You're left with a muddy, inattentive feeling.

You can try asking for a take home because of interview anxiety

Hi Raj



I do not, it's just interviewing.

I would respectfully suggest that not only is the inherent economic power imbalance at the heart of a job interview the cause here, but it's also an indicator of a deeper issue, that being a latent social anxiety that may be hiding deeper down. It just takes a more exacerbated situation to bring it out (thankfully!). Some of us have it in a more pervasive sense that overrides every aspect of our lives that cripples almost everything we do (or rather, don't do as the case may be) and I'm happy to see that's not the case with you, but still, the same treatment options used for those of us with serious social anxiety situations may be useful for helping to get you through this current situation.

Xanax, from what I've heard, can be extremely addicting so I don't really recommend that stuff. One doctor I saw told me that he NEVER prescribes it unless the patient is terminally ill - and that patient was my dad with terminal brain cancer. Was a massive help for him. I'd never touch the stuff myself after that conversation. But there are other options. There's Paxil (see other comment), and even blood pressure medication can be used off-label for anxiety (propranolol is what I'm on right now and while it's not nearly as effective, it does help a little bit).

Anyway, the point here is that the condition you may or may not have is irrelevant, your doctor is the one who should be making that call, and whatever tools they've got for treating social anxiety may be useful for you here as well. You may not need to stay on them long term at all - you can assess that later on after the economic uncertainty has passed. But for now, if you can swing it, I strongly suggest seeing a good doctor to help you have some better options beyond a glass of wine.

But if you can't, then hey, again, no judgement. Gotta do what ya gotta do.

“Therapy” is a total joke

I'm sorry you've had a bad experience, but you should at least admit that it has been a "lifesaver" for so many others.

For a L-O-T of other humans, just having an unbiased listener is a positive event in their life.

Sounds to me like the OP has solved the problem.

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