8:00 p.m.: Do a visualization exercise in which you see yourself going through the full interview experience and performing magnificently. Imagine yourself confidently sailing through the interview.
9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.: Indulge in a bit of brain candy, such as watching TV or playing a board game, to take your mind off the interview.
11:00 p.m.: Head to bed. You’ll need a good night’s sleep. If 11 is early for you, you’ll still want to go to bed now in case you’re anxious and have trouble sleeping (try reading if that’s the case). Of course, if you normally go to bed earlier than 11, adjust the plan accordingly.
6:00 a.m.: Wake up. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash. Bathe or shower. Use deodorant soap. Put on deodorant. For confidence, spritz on a tiny bit of cologne if you wish, but don’t overdo it! For men, shave and trim your beard or mustache. Style your hair. Women, wear your hair up or back so it’s out of your face. Put on makeup conservatively.
7:00 a.m.: Breakfast in your bathrobe. You may have too many butterflies to eat breakfast, but give yourself a little something for energy and mental acuity, perhaps a piece of fruit, a protein bar, coffee if you can’t function without it.
Now, get dressed. Take your time. Make sure your outfit is perfect. Check your briefcase for emergency-repair items you might need: small sewing kit, extra pair of pantyhose, spot-remover wipes, tissues, comb and brush, hairspray or gel, makeup for touchups, breath mints. Be sure you have extra copies of your resume in case you have more than one interviewer. And if you have one, bring your career portfolio as well. Pack an umbrella, too.
8:00 a.m.: As you did 24 hours ago, head to the interview site. Leave a little earlier or later, depending on what you learned from your dry run. Be sure you have your cell phone so that if something totally unexpected happens on the way (such as a bad accident closing the road), you can call the employer to see if rescheduling is indicated.
8:45 a.m.: Arrive at the site. Once in the building, head directly to the restroom for one final inspection of your outfit. Employ your emergency-repair kit if needed. Then, head to the interviewer’s office. Pleasantly announce yourself to the gatekeeper — receptionist, secretary, assistant — and make friendly conversation with him or her; the interviewer will often ask this person’s impression of you. Then, wait calmly for the interviewer to be ready for you.
9:00 a.m.: Perform spectacularly in the interview.
10:00 a.m.: Spend your drive home basking in how well you performed.
Well, if Jack Bauer’s day went as smoothly as these 24 hours, his show would be cancelled quickly for lack of drama. In your case, though, this smooth 24 hours of preparation should ensure a long run when you get that job offer.