Everyone has pre-interview rituals, it could be wearing lucky socks, eating a certain breakfast, or even listening to your favourite songs to get you ready for the main event.
For those who swear by it, listening to music before your interview helps to get you in the zone and ready to perform your best against, statistically, at least 5 other candidates. In the same way athletes listen to certain tracks before tournaments and important games, candidates can leverage music to be their best.
Studies have shown that music can make you feel more confident, but we wanted to know what the most popular choices out there were. To do this, we looked at data from Spotify that showed the songs people were listening to the most before their interviews.
- Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World’ is the most popular track to listen to before an interview
- Kanye West is the most popular artist choice in pre-interview playlists, with ‘Stronger’ the most picked track
- The average pre-interview song is a high-tempo 133 BPM
- Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ is the oldest track (Jan, 1979), but the 4th most popular song overall
- Songs depicting female empowerment are the most popular, with both men and women adding to their interview playlists
Top 10 Songs to Listen to Before an Interview
Here are the full top 10 songs people listen to before an interview in order of popularity:
No. of Playlists Used in:
|1||Run the World (Girls)||Beyoncé||85|
|4||Don’t Stop Me Now||Queen||63|
|5||Girl on Fire||Alicia Keys||57|
|7||Good as Hell||Lizzo||51|
|8||Boss Bitch||Doja Cat||50|
|10||Eye of the Tiger||Survivor||48|
The most popular songs people listen to before an interview are clearly designed to get people hyped rather than chilled. With Beyoncé’s renowned hit “Run the World” being the top track, you can immediately understand the vibe people are looking for before they have their job interviews. Confidence. Power. Boss attitudes.
In fact, “Boss Bitch” by Doja Cat, and “Confident” by Demi Lovato also feature in the top ten: people are quite literal in what they’re looking for apparently.
There are however two clear outliers in this top ten: Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”. Two classic rock songs from 1979 and 1982 respectively. These two oldies are designed to make you feel empowered and still ring true in the 2020s.
Most Popular Artists for Pre-Interview Music
With the top 10 having such a heavy focus on hip-hop and pop, it’s no surprise to see the iconic Kanye and Beyoncé take the top two spots. Despite none of Yeezy’s tracks making it to the top 10, ‘Stronger’ is 18th, ‘POWER’ is 25th, and ‘All of the Lights’ comes in at the 31st spot.
Arguably, Taylor Swift is the odd-one-out in the list here, but Swifties clearly enjoy ‘The Man’ in particular for pre-interview music. The track is the 38th most popular song in this analysis, featuring in 27 playlists.
Here are the top ten artists people listen to before an interview:
|Rank||Artists||No. of Playlists Featured In:|
133 BPM is the Magic Number
The average Beats Per Minute (BPM) of the top 50 pre-interview tracks works out as 133. With that logic, some extra suggestions for people looking for more pre-interview songs with the magic 133 BPM are:
- Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe – Kendrick Lamar
- Studio – ScHoolboy Q
- Sweet But Psycho – Ava Max
- Shut Up and Drive – Rihanna
- Cherry Bomb – Tyler the Creator
To further understand how music impacts candidates before an interview, we spoke to Dr. Simon Proctor, Director of Education and Research at Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, who discussed why 133 BPM may be the ‘magic number’.
“There is undoubtedly a physiological connection between the energy, articulation and tempo of the music we listen to and our bodily responses to it.”
“Songs with 133 BPM are in the ‘optimal place’ to get our bodies ready for intense situations”
“The average BPM of 133 sits higher than the average adult’s resting heart rate but also below that of high-intensity exercise, putting it in the optimal place to ‘gee’ us up, or get ready.”
It is worth noting, this doesn’t necessarily mean that our hearts actually beat in sync with the music we listen to, just that we experience this as an achievable degree of bodily preparedness.
However, Dr. Simon Proctor mentions that “there is definitely more to it than just BPM”.
“It’s also about the shape of the melody, the rate of harmonic change, the “smoothness” or “jaggedness” of the rhythm that can create that physical and psychological effect.”
Who runs the world? Girls.
With so many of the top tracks being created by female artists, and the most popular song literally containing the lyrics “Who runs the world? Girls”, we wanted to find out the gender split of the people who created these playlists.
We ran the Spotify data through a tool which assigns a probable gender to a first name which we took from the ‘Created by’ text on each Spotify Playlist. If the playlist was created by someone called ‘Andrew’, the tool would assign a male probability, and ‘Amber’ would receive a female probability.
“49% of pre-interview playlist creators are women, and 51% are men”
Overall, 28% of these interview playlist creators were females, 29% were male, and the rest were unknown. An ‘unknown’ status was given where people have set their Spotify usernames as something other than a first name, an example would be ‘HypeBangerz124’. When removing the ‘unknown’ playlist creators, the split is 49% women and 51% men.
The bottom line from this is that the data seems to indicate that both men and women are listening to songs before an interview, and hits like Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World’ are not gender-exclusive.
The Science of Pre-Interview Music
Dr. Simon Proctor further discussed how music helps people prepare for nervous situations like interviews, and specifically, why hip-hop may be such a popular choice.
“Culturally, faster music is highly associated with being “geed up”, or “pumped”, and this may be the frame of mind in which people want to arrive at an interview. An example would be the music played ahead of a boxing match, which is very definitely there to achieve a certain bodily and mental state.”
“Hip-hop is about pride in oneself and has a sense of reinforcement of identity, that bolsters self-confidence”
On the relation of hip-hop and high tempo pop, Dr. Proctor adds, “Hip-hop isn’t just a sound, it’s a culture originating in the struggle of Black African Americans in the face of violence and discrimination.”
“Hip-hop is partly about having pride in oneself and where one comes from (despite overwhelming opposition from the powerful in society) and celebrating being able to articulate this.”
“Even though people listening to the music might not share this background themselves, the sense of reinforcement of identity will be something that is likely to be encouraging and bolster one’s self-confidence.”
Dr. Proctor also highlighted that familiarity in our music choices can help us to feel more confident:
“There is something very secure about listening to a track that we identify with and that we know inside out. We know what’s coming and we look forward to that magic moment – whether it’s a modulation, the launch of the chorus, the leap of a 9th in the melody, or the re-entry of the rap, that, when it arrives, we revel in it and feel its effect on us.”
“In this way, we are fully in control and it boosts our confidence. There are no surprises and yet we are experiencing pleasure in predictably regulating ourselves.”
Finally, Dr. Proctor did also mention that despite the majority enjoying high-tempo hip-hop and pop tracks, this may not be the choice for everyone:
“While some will look for fast and energetic music, others will prefer more “chilled” sounds which may help them to arrive feeling calm and collected and able to think more reflectively.”
The pre-interview Spotify playlist
Got an interview coming up? Make sure to check out the best pre-interview tracks in the curated Spotify playlist below. In this playlist you can find the official top 50 from the research in order of popularity:
We scraped data from over 71,000 songs, from 1,008 playlists on Spotify that were collated in playlists labelled with interview related phrases. The words and phrases analysed were: interview, job interview, interview hype, pre-interview.
We took data from every available playlist using these phrases in their title, therefore indicating where someone was intending to use these songs to prepare for an interview. If a playlist was entitled ‘interview chill’ it would have been included due to it containing ‘interview’ in the playlist title.
The data was sourced on 14th May 2021 from Spotify playlists directly using their API.
We used the Genderize API to assign a probable gender to the Spotify playlist creators. The API contains names from around the world, you can see a full list of the countries it has data from here. This API has been used by the likes of The Guardian and The Washington Post to analyze name datasets.