Can't sleep before interviews

Hi everyone,

Frustrating experience here. After months of prep, couldn't sleep before an MBB final round and blew the interview. Happened for the first time a year ago, and then again last week with a different MBB.

Before both first rounds and final rounds, my body jolted awake in the middle of the night and I was unable to fall back asleep. I ended up going into the interviews with 3-4 hours total. At that level I retained some level of function, enough to get through first rounds, but as you can imagine my ability to articulate, brainstorm, draw insights, perform mistake-free math, etc. is diminished relative to what I practiced at.

I've tried the obvious solutions- OTC sleep pills, doing a heavy workout the day before, reading something relaxing, 4-7-8 breathing, etc. No luck with any of that.

Anyone else have this experience or have any suggestions? Grateful for any advice.

Interview anxiety night before final rounds

You're lying in bed and it's 2 am. You can't sleep and have to be up in a couple of hours to interview for your dream job. What do you do?

First, it's important to establish that this anxiety is completely natural. It's very easy to think about all the possible issues when you are lying still in bed. There are a few ways to combat this fear.

Tips for good sleep hygiene

The best way to ensure you're rested is to establish a good sleep regimen. Go to bed at about the same time every night. You'll need to build a routine that tells your mind it's time to sleep. Stop all work an hour before bed and stop using electronics as well. Make some tea, meditate, read, or write. Whatever activity you do be sure to do it every night. This usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to get into a rhythm. Eventually, once you do activity x you'll become tired instantly.

Staying in the present

Champion fighter Ben Askren has anxiety before some of his biggest fights. He said in an interview that all his homework for the prize fight had been done but he would still obsess over it. So he flew his friends in from out of town to joke around and have fun before the fight. You don't need to fly people out but you can apply this same mentality. Be confident that you know the material. Stop preparing the day before your interview. In fact, do whatever takes your mind off the interview.

Some ideas from the community

Natural sleep remedies
from certified user @IlliniProgrammer"

  1. Exercise the week and the night before.
  2. St. John's Wort or Ashwagandha. Both available at your local pharmacy. Warning: do not take if you take SSRIs.
  3. Melatonin

"Normal" people state of mind.
from certified user @Myron-Ghains"

But OP what I did prior to some interviews that I hyped up was I surrounded myself with "normal" people. The type of people that don't know / care what MBB vs. BB TMT vs. PE is. It helped remove the mentality that I absolutely needed this position or my life was over as I knew it.

"This is your anxiety speaking"
from user @LReed"

Just remember that these interviews basically determine the rest of your life and any given interview could very well be the difference between you being a 30 year old virgin accountant who hates his life versus being a 28 year old Consultant whose seen the world, had the best women and lives in a Tribecca high rise.

Recommended Reading

 

I think it would be helpful to take a step back prior to an interview to run through possible scenarios and tell your self that you know your material cold (as you stated) and that this is all a cumulative of the prep you've done over the past weeks / months etc. The night before I would review things lightly but generally stop with most prep and help get into a more natural mindset.

 

I had this problem before my first MBB interview (1st round), woke up at 430am, couldn't fall back to asleep, I actually got up and watched some youtube clips and got on tumblr for a bit. After my eyes got tired I put my phone down and got another hour in. I guess if you really can't fall asleep, don't fight it and don't think about how much time you have left, just let your body react naturally. Also, having a backup option might help, I didn't have sleep problems before another MBB interview a week later.

 
Best Response

It somewhat depends. While the point of the bright light (read, a certain shade of blue that has been proven to do this) is true, the point of your brain waiting what will happen not, as we are watching reruns. For the bright light you can do 2 things: - just mostly listen to the show with your eyes closed, like aspirer - download f.lux, a tool that actually filters these bright lights out (it is actually something that I believe everyone should have on their laptop).

Listening to audio books has been actually known to even improve sleep as you won't panic/stress about random stuff that has happened to you, and is something I want to try as well. Only problem is that you won't know where you have to continue when you wake up :)

 

I had this problem as well + severe cold sweating prior to my MBB interviews too. Went to a psychologist which asked me to lay out the worst possibility if I fail the interview (can I reapply? where else can I work? etc) and it really helped me to relax before my interviews.

I guess I wanted to go MBB too much that I cannot let myself fail. Anyways, if by any chance you're sharing the same problem with me, I hope this helps.

 

I often have similar issues (waking up too early), I've been suggested magnesium supplements and it helps - sometimes - might be worth a go and minimal side effects.

Are you only applying to one consultancy? Received wisdom is apply to many, you should have numerous interviews and you can mess some up reducing the pressure on each individual interview.

Finally you could look at mitigation? Try 'training like you fight' and purposely do some cases while sleep deprived. Also investigate a good stack of stimulants that work for you (I rarely drink coffee so that's enough for me) that will mean ,even if you don't get sleep, you have a plan to perform.

 

I had this same problem and literally found the perfect solution.

Following this method I fall asleep within a half hour-hour tops.

I get into bed around 11:00-11:15, usually I get to bed at 12-1.

Right before I get into bed I drink one of those near sleep drink..I attached a picture below. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003IHO8LY/ref=s9_acsd_al_bw_c_x_2_w?…

They're pretty pricey- 3-3.50 where I am from, but totally totally worth it. I am not sure if its a placebo effect happening on my body, or if the stuff inside actually works. Anyway, ill drink it like 10:30ish and it literally works wonders. Have the best sleep possible and wake up feeling refreshed. Don't overuse it tho, i only drink it when I have interviews or big exams

 

Someone once told me to remember that you are no stupider nor smarter than you were 5 minutes ago. I keep that in mind when I am faced with an interview.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********
 
Austerity:

Down a bottle of whiskey the night before. Should help you fall asleep

Careful with that. The withdrawal from heavy drinking can sometimes produce some rebound anxiety, especially if the next day will be stressful. This kid needs sleep, but he also needs to wake up rested and relaxed, He does not need stomach problems, a headache, and a depressed and anxious feeling when he wakes up. Seriously, exercise (ideally setting a personal best or recent record), melatonin, st john's wort or ashwagandha. Maybe a single bottle of beer if that's still not enough to knock you out. White noise also helps. Exercise also improves short-term memory and helps your brain for the interview the next day. Your body responds in a way that's different when it comes to stress. And your brain is going to be comparing your body's stress response to the exercise the night before, and if you gave it your very very best running, it's going to keep saying that the interview really isn't so bad and you can handle it. That's how I'd approach this. Exercise, melatonin, maybe St John's Wort or Ashwagandha (they're available OTC at most pharmacies and grocery stores, but don't mix either with SSRIs or any prescription drug that affects brain chemistry without consulting your doctor).
 

On a serious note, I had the same problem as a student. Took several interviews with ~3 hours of sleep. Couldn't really find a cure for it, but the adrenaline in the interview kept me awake and I didn't bottle them.

Maybe it is worth trying to adjust your sleeping rhythm. Go to bed at 9pm and wake up at 4am for a couple of weeks. That way, even if you can't immediately fall asleep at 9pm the night before your interview,, you will still get a good night's sleep.

 

Used to have this problem as well. Pretty sure it comes from the fact that you think your life is on the line here (it's not). I would still practice - but on the day before the interview, convince yourself you actually don't give a f... about the outcome. Maybe you'd rather be on a jackup rig in Nigeria. Take a step back, you'll be more relaxed.

 

on the sleeping topic, I noticed that a combination of the following works: having a rather fixed sleeping schedule for as long as possible (I think it works after a few months) in general & two days before the interview sleeping less than usual. So that one day before the interview, you have the nice sleeping pattern your body is used to + being tired from the day before.

Also practicing mediation or these kind of things works in a sense that it is then easier to snap out of a nasty state (sleeplessness, anxiety, etc) but only if you practice it constantly for a while.

I am also thinking, related to someone else said here before, that if you would be prepared to do the interviews also w/o almost any sleep, maybe your mind would get the message that "well, I anyways don't need sleep to be fit" so it would then relax and actually allow you to sleep. Hope it makes sens what I meant.

 

would stay up later two nights before. used the extra time to review the company and do more last minute research. day before i tried to increase activity and then gave myself ample time to relax before bed. know a lot of kids that smoke to help sleep or use melatonin

 

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