How to play it cool boy, real cool (and dry).
March 8, 2012 10:03 PM   Subscribe

Ok, I have less than 24 hours, and I am already sweating: what are some drastic short-term steps I can take to stop myself from sweating in an interview?

I have an interview tomorrow. I should be preparing for job-related questions, looking over my own qualifications, etc and I can only think about what I am going to do when I start sweating.

I need some drastic short-term tricks to keep myself from sweating.

I know it will happen. No matter what I do, if something goes awkward or gets tense, I will start to sweat a bit on my forehead. The moment I notice this -- which is quickly -- it just spirals out of control. I can feel beads on my scalp. My eyebrows will get damp, it will get in my eyes. This is not a hypothetical scenario -- this just happened to me on a recent interview. Picture that scene in a movie, where some army platoon is trying to figure out who is the spy/mole -- and they are grilling everyone and then one guy cracks...the bead of sweat drips down the temple. Busted. This does not project confidence.

I have read a lot of "sweaty" posts on AskMe. I have tried a lot of things:

- Based on advice here, I started using Certain-Dri. It has no effect on me. My armpits are not going to be the problem here. I will anticipate that and wear dark clothing and never raise my arms. I am not going to apply Certain-Dri to my face, though (and it has crossed my mind)

- I always try to get to the place wayyyyy early so I can acclimate. I did that last time. 30 minutes early. I awkwardly lingered in air-conditioned spaces trying to thermo-regulate. Then, I was seated in a hot waiting room and I was already sweating before I even got to the room.

- I haven't had coffee or caffeine in days and days.

Aside from botoxing my face, here are some things I have thought of:

- Either wear no socks or wet socks. I am serious. I need to reduce clothing. Maybe wet socks will drop my core temp?

- Drink a huge ice water or frozen something right before I go in. Bring icy water into interview.

- Maybe I can try and just wear just a dickey under blazer to stay cool -- kidding -- but I wonder if pre-dampening the back of my shirt would work. To cool myself down?

- I could say right away that I am just getting over an illness but wouldn't miss the interview for the world. Pre-emptive strike. Let them know I have a fever.

- I will bring a handkerchief of something just in case (honestly, last time I didn't and was forced to use a glove--I haven't heard back from them).

- Maybe put an ice pack in a pocket or strapped to my leg?

I am serious about some of these ideas. Is there some thing I can do that would help short-term. I am sure there is Botox or Xanax or something, but I need something that I don't need a prescription for that will just work. Give me the equivalent of a terry-cloth headband so I can nail this thing?!!?! I would so NAIL an interview to be a professional tennis player if such things were determined in a conference room.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't know if ice packs or per-moistening yourself would even work. You're sweating because you're nervous, not because you're hot, right?

I would just wear comfortable clothes. Keep a clean, neatly folded handkerchief in your pocket. When you start to sweat, casually wipe your brow and stick the hanky back in your pocket. Don't do this more than once every 5-10 minutes or it might start to look weird.

Honestly, tho - this sounds like mostly mental thing. You need a trick to keep your mind focused on the interview, not on the sweating.
posted by gnutron at 10:11 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe don't drink anything at all from now until after the interview? Could even eat something salty to get rid of some water. This is assuming the sweating is primarily due to stress/nerves/anxiety rather than truly being overheated.

Rinse your mouth out with water if it starts feeling uncomfortably dry, and to keep your breath from getting too funky.

IANAD, this is not medical advice, consult your doctor if you have any conditions, etc.
posted by 6550 at 10:20 PM on March 8, 2012

- I could say right away that I am just getting over an illness but wouldn't miss the interview for the world. Pre-emptive strike. Let them know I have a fever.

Bad idea. Then they'll spend the rest of the interview wondering if you're going to get them sick.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:21 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is it possible for you to get a beta-blocker?
posted by pullayup at 10:21 PM on March 8, 2012

maybe it would work to apply anti-perspirant to your face for this one occasion? Have you tried it?

Other ideas:

Work out before your interview to get some nervous energy out.

REpeat calming mantras (in your head, before and maybe during the interview)
posted by bearette at 10:26 PM on March 8, 2012

Best answer: Have a very cold shower as close as possible (in time) to the interview?
posted by dg at 10:38 PM on March 8, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips so far:

- I will definitely bring a pocket square or something as backup.

- I think working out before would be bad for me, as I find that after I work out and shower there is often this delayed burst of sweat I get if I try and just immediately do something. And I don't think dehydrating myself is a good idea if I have to talk a lot. I would probably start sweating more if I sensed I was getting dry mouth!

- I am afraid to try medicine like a beta blocker or even anti-perspirant on the face on game day, in case there are side effects. I think that some sort of anti-anxiety thing is definitely in order for the future, and may be the real solution...but probably not for tomorrow. This all just came up so suddenly.

It's odd in that I don't feel truly nervous, but then there will be some brief event or awkward moment that will create this sort of adrenaline burst of awkwardness that will create a really flush/hot face. And then it just doesn't stop for like 20 minutes. I won't have butterflies or anything, it will just be like a 20 minute period of hot-face. Unfortunately, that is about the length of most interviews.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 10:40 PM on March 8, 2012

I can so empathise. If I could remove my forehead sweat glands they'd be gone this afternoon.

I have yet to find a solution. Yes, bring a handkerchief, but it does get noticeable when you're wiping your brow every minute or two. Perhaps the best option would be to acknowledge it? If it happens, just say 'sorry, I get nervous during interviews, especially ones for jobs that I'm particularly interested in'... not ideal, certainly, but it's better than pretending it's not there.
posted by twirlypen at 11:05 PM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

So why not experiment with anti-perspirant beforehand? You could move around in order to generate sweat.
posted by bearette at 11:18 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I get the same hot flush and sweating when I'm put in a similar situation. The biggest thing that helped me was a beta-blocker. The second biggest thing: stay hydrated. My hot flashes last much longer when I'm dehydrated and my blood pressure is low, and then it's just sweating all over until I can get into a cool environment and loosen my clothes.
posted by WasabiFlux at 11:40 PM on March 8, 2012

Yipes, don't pre-wet your socks or anything, that will just make you uncomfortable.

I don't see anything wrong with putting a clear, scent-free deodorant on your forehead - I've rubbed deodorant in random places to prevent sweating or chaffing.
posted by radioamy at 8:29 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't really have any solutions for the immediate future (sorry!) but I do think it's something you should talk to your doctor about. I have hyper-hydrosis, I can relate to how embarrassing it is!

I understand you're reluctant to try medication, but from my personal experience it was life changing, I just wish I knew about it in high school. Botox does work as well (I've had it done to my armpits before) - but it's expensive.

Good luck on the interview, keep the handkerchief, have a glass of water and *try* to relax.
posted by Danithegirl at 8:56 AM on March 9, 2012

Best answer: When I was in my early and mid-20's, I used to have problems similar to you with heavy localized sweating on the scalp and forehead during stressful situations. Fortunately this decreased on its own with age, experience and confidence.

The best advice I can give you is to exercise hard several hours before the interview. I found that running with sprint intervals was the best at getting me to sweat the most in the shortest amount of time. If possible try to leave 2-3 hours in between your workout and the interview to cool down.

Another trick would be to bring your own water bottle with some crushed ice in it or some other means to keep it cold to ensure you will have cold water with you.

Beta blockers do help with minimal side effects for future reference but are not a cure-all.

Topical powerful anti-perspirants (drisol) can help too but use sparingly and test cautiously. It's possible to iritate or burn your skin with too much left on for too long.

Bring a nice handkerchief with you. Looks more professional than paper towel. If you DO end up profusely sweating, the best play is to just casually wipe your face off and not say anything. Depending on the mood with the interview you could also say confidently, "I am feeling a little warm, excuse me" while you wipe yourself. This is far better than ignoring it and pretending that you aren't dripping sweat and having the interviewer ask you if you are feeling okay or something like that.

If you are not applying for a sales job or other client relationship job, it is also okay to break the ice at the start of the interview and just say you get warm in intense situations. I would avoid saying "nervous." This might take your mind off of it if you do start feeling warm. The key is to cast confidence in however you play it. Think of Robin Williams performing on stage dripping everywhere!
posted by jameslavelle3 at 9:22 AM on March 9, 2012

Best answer: May be a bit late for this, but shaving the pits has helped me in the past. Tremendously.

I'd say thumbs down to prewetting *anything*.

You could try some talc application in other places.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:17 PM on March 9, 2012

Response by poster: The interview went well, and I didn't break out in a profuse sweat!

I applied a lot of these tips, and I think some of these really did help:

- I took an ice cold shower before I went. Like hypothermic cold. That was huge I think. I was nearly shivering all the way there. Nothing better and healthier than battling with your own body's internal mechanics!

- I used an obscene amount of the Gold Bond medicated powder -- the kind that feels like icy hot. I filled my socks with that. Little clouds of powder were poofing up after each step for about 10 minutes. I also used that in a few other select places. I wish I had practiced that beforehand, because that was quite a shocking sensation. Yikes.

- I wore really thin dress socks and the type of high-tech fabric boxers that you would work out in -- anything to dissipate heat.

- As tacky as this sounds, I wore a short-sleeve dress shirt. Since I had a jacket on, it didn't really matter and cut down a bit of fabric.

- I had the handkerchief in the pocket on the ready. I tried to pick up a pocket square on the way, but $40 is far too much to pay for a piece of fabric that small.

- I had an ice cold bottle of water with me during the interview.

- I also got there exactly on time, so there wasn't a lot of time to wait around and worry about all of this. That helped.

And one other thing that worked -- in the middle of the night, before the interview, I woke up and checked this thread...and there was a comment on here from someone that basically said "you don't need this job, you are talented and motivated, and things will go just fine." The next day it was gone. Perhaps I dreamed that, or perhaps it was just deleted by the mods. I could totally understand why it would be deleted. It sounded very odd and wasn't really an answer. However, it was exactly the sort of thing that I needed to hear. I was actually thinking that going in. As opposed to leaning forward desperately trying to nail it, I sorta leaned back and relaxed a bit and thought, hey, maybe they should be gunning for you.

It was a mix of reverse psychology and a very odd sort of pep talk, but it actually kinda helped. I won't know for a while if it works out, but it's over. And I didn't have to smear my face with Right Guard and Botox, so that was nice.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:48 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yay! I'm glad it went well. And regardless of how it turns out, you will have gained something, because now you've got an anti-sweat game plan and proof that it works.

Go you!
posted by ocherdraco at 9:26 AM on March 12, 2012

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