Regardless of our years of experience, salary history, or the number of professional accomplishments we have on our resume, many of us get nervous before a job interview. Sweaty palms, trouble taking deep breaths, a nervous stomach, and a racing mind are just some of the symptoms we may experience.
If you have pre-interview anxiety, you’re not alone. Far from it, in fact. The results of a 2016 study by Harris Interactive and Everest College showed that 92 percent of us experience it.
As CBD continues to gain fame as an effective anxiety reliever, it’s no stretch to think it may be helpful to take pre-interview (especially since it won’t make you high or loopy). But is that really a good idea? Are there potential downsides? Let’s look at the promising research first.
If you have anxiety, you know its symptoms extend far beyond the brain. A common side effect of anxiety is digestive distress, which can leave us racing to the bathroom at the most inconvenient moments — like two minutes before an interview.
Could CBD help with that? Well, multiple studies have shown that cannabinoids modulate intestinal transit, with one 2016 paper in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research even concluding that CB1 receptors “control cholinergic neurotransmission in the human gastrointestinal tract and are the key regulators of contractility.” Translation: They affect how often you need to go to the bathroom.
There’s also a decent amount of evidence to suggest CBD could help soothe irritable bowels. For example, the results of a survey of 313 people — published in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease in 2014 — showed a link between cannabis use and an improvement in abdominal pain and diarrhea in patients with IBD. In other words, CBD may be worth a try if you find yourself in and out of the bathroom before that last-round interview.
Because legal hurdles have made it difficult to study cannabis in humans — though the U.S. federal government now appears to be opening the floodgates — there aren’t any studies testing the direct effects of CBD on interview anxiety. There are, however, some closely related studies, like a 2011 clinical trial investigating the effects of CBD on public speaking-induced anxiety, that we can look to for direction.
The study was small — with a total of 24 participants who were allocated to receive either CBD or a placebo before a public speaking engagement — but the results were (potentially) big. Researchers found that patients who were given 600 mg of CBD 90 minutes before the test showed a significant reduction in anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance.
Meanwhile, the participants who received the placebo presented with higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alertness levels when compared with the control group. The results, which were published online in Neuropsychopharmacology, give us a helpful hint of what to expect from taking CBD before an interview. And, while this study is promising, it’s worth noting 600 mg of CBD is a much higher dose than you’ll find in most over-the-counter products. Most CBD capsules and gummies, for example, contain anywhere from 5-25 mg per piece, while even high-strength tinctures tend to top out around 50-60 mg per serving — if you’re considering taking a dose this high, it’s best to talk with your doctor first.
Not all research about taking CBD for anxiety — particularly before an interview— is sunny. Many studies have shown that CBD has an excellent safety profile, but for some people, taking too much can cause side effects like nausea, fatigue, and irritability. It goes without saying that those are three symptoms you want to avoid while you’re interviewing for a new job.
So should you take CBD before an interview? If you’re an experienced CBD user, it’s probably fine to take your regular dose of cannabidiol beforehand to help calm your nerves. That said, it’s definitely not the time to experiment with a new product, a higher dose, or different delivery methods because this could backfire. And if you’ve never used CBD before, an hour before an interview isn’t the best time to try it.
The good news is that there are a lot of other ways to combat interview anxiety. These tips can be used on their own or in combination with CBD:
If you’ve got racing thoughts, take out a pen and paper and start writing them down. As career expert Katharine Brooks Ed.D., wrote in an article for Psychology Today, “Writing can be one of the most therapeutic and helpful tasks you can do to reduce your anxiety generally, beyond just at job interviews.”
I’m not talking Barry’s Bootcamp or Soul Cycle, either. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just “five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.” So even if your interview is early in the morning, a 10-minute run or five minutes of dancing, jump rope, or burpees can help you keep your nerves in check.
This breathing technique is a useful tool for anyone, but especially for those who struggle with anxiety before an interview. It only takes a minute, it’s completely free, and you can do it while you’re walking to an interview or waiting to be called in. All you have to do is inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and then slowly exhale through the nose for 8 seconds.
As more research is completed, hopefully we’ll learn more about how CBD can be of use in short-term stressful and high-pressure situations, such as a job interview. For now, though, it’s best to take a conservative approach and lean on a range of anxiety-reducing practices — instead of just CBD alone.