How to Interview for a Job when You Have a Hangover

Two Methods:Before the InterviewDuring the Interview

Oh no! You forgot about that important interview today when you went out drinking last night, and now there are gremlins with pickaxes working the inside your skull, your stomach is staging a violent overthrow, and your mouth is full of sand. You're going to need more than just your “A” game if you want this job—interviewing with a hangover requires good preparation before the interview and some fine acting skills if you want to get through the discussion without being shown the door.

Method 1
Before the Interview

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    Drink electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks as soon as possible. This will help ease any symptoms of dehydration, which often goes hand in hand with a hangover.
    • The processes that break down alcohol also produce lactic acid and other chemicals that interfere with the production of glucose (sugar) and electrolytes; that's why sports drinks are a good idea.
    • While coffee will help with alertness, it actually dehydrates your system, and might further upset your stomach, so avoid it.
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    Pop a pill. Taking a non-acetaminophen over-the-counter painkiller like aspirin or ibuprofen can be beneficial. Take a few extras with you if you are going to be interviewed outside the recommended time frame for taking the next pills.
    • Alcohol disrupts how the liver processes acetaminophen, so taking that may lead to liver inflammation and permanent damage.
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    Eat a hangover-bashing breakfast. Make a bacon sandwich (with burnt toast) with a side of bouillon soup.
    • The toast boosts your blood sugar. Carbon in the burnt part helps filter impurities, which is why people hospitalized for alcohol poisoning get a potent carbon slurry pumped into their stomachs.
    • The protein in bacon breaks down to amino acids to help replenish brain neurotransmitters that were depleted by the alcohol.
    • The bouillon soup restores salt and potassium.
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    Use eye drops to remove redness. A few drops of solution may help. Follow the directions and give the drops approximately half an hour to start working.
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    Go through your typical grooming routine. Showering and grooming will be especially important as you may look (and smell) like something the cat dragged in. Be sure you wash well to reduce the possibility that you still smell like a beer-soaked cigarette butt.
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    Dab concealer over under-eye bags. Even men will benefit from a few dabs of concealing make-up if dark circles or bags have surfaced due to a night of partying.
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    Check it before you wreck it. Have a friend or spouse give you the “once over” before you leave. Have someone else evaluate how you look before you leave and ask for an honest opinion. Ask your friend or spouse for suggestions if they think you look disheveled or unprofessional.
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    Rehearse how you plan to respond to questions. Your brain may not be working at full capacity so try to keep answers and comments concise and to the point, remembering that you might have a tendency to ramble just to cover up your pain or distress.
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    Be punctual. As with any interview situation, hungover or not, your punctuality is crucial to a good beginning. If you're late, not only is this the first blot on your character but it will intensify the scrutiny of your presentation and appearance; it's only human to start wondering what might have caused the tardiness.
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    Know when to reschedule. While you may not want to reschedule the interview, heading out may do more damage than good, especially where the interview is with the firm you're already working for and everyone knows your usual bubbly self. Indicators that rescheduling is the only sensible option include:
    • You're ready to puke. All you need is to shake hands with your prospective employer and then vomit all over the room. If you feel as if your stomach can’t take the interview, don't even attempt it.
    • You're damaged goods. Fights, falling downstairs or even hickies that can't be successfully hidden, all warrant rescheduling.
    • You're still drunk. Never attend a job interview if you think you still have a buzz or you're still drunk. No employer will find this humorous or will look past it, no matter how talented or qualified you are for the job.
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    Bring water with you. Drink lots of water beforehand, and consider taking along a water bottle to your interview. Having such an item is commonplace and if you do need to hydrate during the interview and water hasn't been provided to you, you can excuse yourself to take a sip from the bottle where needed.
    • If it seems unprofessional to do this, don't hesitate to ask for a glass of water when being interviewed instead, it will help to hydrate and cleanse.

Method 2
During the Interview

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    Be minty fresh. Just before the interview starts, use a strong breath mint or strip. It's important to get rid of any traces of alcohol in your breath, which might still be lingering in your lungs.
    • Don't take a mint that you'll still be chewing on during the interview. Strips are better as they will dissolve quickly.
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    Realize that your concentration is probably going to be below par during this interview. This means that you'll need to try extra hard to stay focused and to really listen to the questions.
    • If you need to pause to recompose yourself at any stage, do so; this is far better than regurgitating a lot of nonsense just to fill the gap. People will respect a thoughtful pause and consider that you're taking the matter seriously (which you are, of course).
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    Don't lose your focus. Pick a spot in the room behind the interviewer's head that you can use to keep refocusing your attention on.
    • Even if it's blurry, it'll be a safety spot for you to return to, making it appear as if you're focused on the interviewer without having to actually maintain complete direct eye contact all the time.
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    Take great care not to fidget. Fidgeting comes from nerves, boredom and wanting to be distracted (or somewhere else). Unfortunately, if you're experiencing a hangover, you may just be feeling all three things and be tempted to fidget to overcome the desire to leave or fall asleep.
    • Do something to keep yourself focused and alert, such as pinching the palm of your hand regularly or knocking your knees together gently (choose a focusing technique that doesn't look obvious to the interviewers or they'll be worried about your sanity).
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    Breathe deeply. Taking deep breaths during the interview will not only help you relax, but it'll also ensure that your blood is getting enough oxygen and make you feel a little bit more fresh and alert. Sit up straight, and avoid sighing when you exhale.


  • If this tends to happen frequently, then you should consider that you may have a problem.
  • Let the interviewer know as soon as possible if you need to reschedule the interview. Tell interviewer that you're not well (because you aren’t, so technically you're not lying outright, just omitting the self-induced nature of your queasiness). Inquire if he or she has availability in a few days. Consider requesting a phone interview. If this is an initial screening-type interview with human resources, tell the HR manager that you're feeling ill but would he or she consider conducting a quick phone interview in lieu of you coming in and “getting everyone sick?” Take care to avoid video link-ups though!
  • Consider wearing a signature distraction. Choose a tie, scarf or piece of jewelry that is really fascinating and causes people to stare at it. This might be helpful to you in taking their full attention off your face and red eyes and will also give a sense that you're into a little flair. Don't overdo it though, especially if you don't have a lot of experience; wearing a tie with a large pink elephant won't endear you to anyone and may suggest immaturity.
  • Learn from the experience. While last night’s party may have not been planned, try to learn from how you feel and what is at stake so next time you’ll just say no on the eve of an interview.
  • If you were out drinking the night before with workmates or because of a work dinner with a client, you'll need to be extra careful as to how you deal with the interview and any stories of not feeling well. Keep your story consistent to each person you tell but be aware that colleagues know what you were up to the night before in this instance!
  • Consider meditating or doing gentle exercise such as tai chi or yoga in the morning before the interview. These can help to put you in a more mindful and less self-piteous state.


  • Keep in mind that going to an interview with a hangover may jeopardize your ability to think on your feet and deliver a stellar interview performance. Of greatest concern is the lingering impression it will leave with a potential employer should you wish to reapply later, or should they be of the sort to spread gossip within your industry.
  • Wear shoes you're used to wearing. This is not the time to try out a new pair of spike high heels or possibly slippery shoes as your balance may be off kilter and pain will likely be intensified to your sensitive self if the shoes aren't properly broken in yet. Stick to the tried and true shoes you’ve been wearing to interviews—just make sure they're polished.
  • Also, keep in mind that the best solution to this problem is to not go out partying the day before an interview. Learn how to say no!

Things You'll Need

  • Painkiller
  • A valid hangover fix - see How to get rid of a hangover for more ideas
  • Neat and well presented clothing and shoes
  • All of your documentation—resume (CV), reports, papers, qualification proofs, etc. as needed; be sure to have everything (it is better to have too much than to miss anything you might need)
  • Water (plenty of it) and a water bottle
  • Notes for the interview (where relevant)

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