What’s Hormones Got to Do With It?: How Your Hormones Can Affect Your Job Interview Performance

Posted October 03, 2013 by
Recruiter observing job candidate during an interview

Recruiter observing job candidate during an interview. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

You’ve done everything you can think of to prepare for your job interview: You’ve researched the company you want to work for, practiced answers for interview questions that may come your way, and bought a dress-for-success outfit to wear. You think you’ve tackled the job interview from every angle, but there may be one thing that can affect your performance that you haven’t considered — your hormones.

That’s right: Whether you’re a woman or a man, your hormones can influence your behavior in ways you may not realize — which can either help you impress a hiring manager or put you out of the running for that job you want. Although thinking about your hormones before a job interview may sound strange at first blush, Gabrielle Lichterman, health journalist and author of “28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals About Your Love Life, Moods, and Potential,” explains it this way:

“Your hormones have a specific effect on you and nobody can escape that,” she said. “It is part of our chemical makeup, and the great news is that the more you know about how your hormones impact you, the better you can make your day and plan your life.”

What women need to know about hormones and job interviews

The rise and fall of hormones throughout your monthly cycle can have very different effects on your mood and behavior, so although you can’t schedule your job interviews based on what your hormones are doing, being armed with the knowledge of how they may affect you might give you an extra edge.

For example, during the first week of your cycle, when you begin menstruating for the month, your estrogen will be low, which can impact your ability to remember things. As a result, you may find yourself forgetting the key points you want to make during an interview and you may have a hard time if your interviewer throws you a curveball question. In order to combat this, be sure to go over all of your talking points on the day of your interview so the information is fresh in your mind.

Week two, however, is a much better time for interviewing, Lichterman says.

“If you have control of the scheduling, or if your interview happens to fall during week two, that’s wonderful because during this time high estrogen and testosterone are sharpening your brain skills and making you think faster on your feet. In addition, these hormones boost your confidence, which is really key if you get thrown a curveball question, or you’re interviewing for your dream job, because that confidence can really push you to excel,” she said. “Most employers want to see that excitement and that excitement comes through really easily in week two because those high hormones will make you more energetic.”

But be careful not to be too energetic, warns Lichterman. The high estrogen levels that you experience during the second week of your cycle can also naturally make you speak faster, so be sure to slow down so your interviewer can absorb everything you’re trying to say.

During week three of your cycle, your progesterone is rising while your estrogen and testosterone are taking a dip, which will cause you to lose some of that energy you had the week before. With this in mind, you may need to drink some coffee or take a brisk walk before your interview to increase your energy and show your interviewer you’re enthusiastic about the position. In addition, during this time, you may have trouble finding the words you want because of the effects progesterone has on verbal ability. Be sure to take a moment to really think about your answers to interview questions so you can express yourself the way you want to.

In week four, you will experience a drop in estrogen and progesterone, and your confidence will tend to decrease along with it. In order to boost your self-confidence during this time, it’s a good idea to really pay attention to your self-talk and remind yourself of your accomplishments and traits that make you the perfect candidate for the job.

How hormones affect men during job interviews

Although people may generally think of hormones in terms of how they impact women, men should also keep in mind that their hormones can affect their behavior in job interviews as well. If you’re a man having a job interview in the morning, remember that your testosterone is at its highest level, and this can significantly influence your attitude.

“In the morning, high testosterone is going to make men more animated, assertive, and for some, even aggressive,” Lichterman said. “They may negotiate more strongly about their salary during this time, and testosterone is going to amp up those stereotypical male traits and make them very competitive.”

Because of the effects of high testosterone, it’s importing to think about what you want to project during your job interview. If you’re applying for a sales position, testosterone-fueled aggressiveness and competitiveness may be seen as an asset. But if you’re interviewing for a job that may require you to be a little bit softer in the workplace, you need to keep these traits in check to project a less combative image.

As the day progresses, your testosterone level will decrease, and as a result, you will be less assertive and energetic, which can give your interviewer the upper hand when it comes to salary negotiations. Believe it or not, in order to increase your testosterone and your energy level, it may be a good idea to drink a cup of coffee or watch sports before the interview.

While you probably can’t control the time of day or time of the month of that important job interview, knowing how your hormones may affect you during that interview can help you prepare for anything that comes your way.

By Kenya McCullum

About the Author:

Kenya McCullum is a freelance writer based in California. She is a contributor to several websites including OnlineColleges.com.

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