Q: What’s the good word? A: Chill Quotient (CQ)

The interview season is upon us. As temperatures plummet in the northern hemisphere, the thought of being interviewed for a potential admit to the top MBA programs raises the mercury for some. If the prospect of an admissions interview makes you hot under the collar, this article has a single-word recommendation for you – chill!

Easier said than done? Not really. Being chill during interview-related pressure is a muscle that can be developed. And as the legendary Boston marathoner, the late Dick Hoyt said, “We run for the people who think they can’t”. Every applicant who has received an interview invite may do well to also remember a similar thought expressed by fellow legendary sportsperson – Rahul Dravid, the current coach of the Indian men’s cricket team. He said “I was given a talent to play cricket. I don’t know why I was given it. But I was. I owe it to all those who wish it had been them to give of my best, every day”.

So now the ball is in your court and your fate is in your hands if you have received an invite. Therefore, you almost owe it to those who didn’t make the cut, to develop your “Chill Quotient” (CQ) to handle any pressure-laden interview situation.

Here are 5 “cool” hacks to up that CQ

  • Float your boat

Imagine you are on the “Santa Maria” as part of Christopher Columbus’ entourage that has left the Canary Islands in the south of Spain and headed towards Cuba in 1492. How would it sound if the captain of Santa Maria reached the first landfall – San Salvador and then started to think that maybe the ship had holes in the bottom all along and making it to Cuba now would be nothing short of a miracle? Absurd right? But isn’t this similar to the thoughts of some applicants who, after receiving an interview invite from a very selective program, start to think that their story had many loopholes to start with? And that they will now be somehow caught out during the brewing storm at the interview stage? Remembering that the Santa Maria deserved to make its second landfall on the eastern coast of Cuba, will help you remember that you similarly deserve your seat at the interview table. Hopefully, this thought floats your boat.  If not, we have another hack.

  • Mirror your agitation

It’s an open secret that the application process; especially for over-represented profiles at MBA schools; is intense. This intensity, if not managed proactively, creates agitations. And the deal with agitations is that they feed on themselves and in the process breed more agitations. So, it’s not a surprise that the mind is significantly agitated during the interview process. A hack then is to remember what the American writer Anne Lamott said – “Never compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides.” The trick is not to imagine your interviewer as some picture-perfect airbrushed Instagram profile but as someone whose thoughts are as messy and agitated as yours. Imagine them not getting along with their boss or them having an argument with their significant other. You may feel less inferior now. If you find this difficult to imagine, then the next hack is for you.

  •  Invert, always Invert

This is the lowest-hanging fruit on the list. But also, somewhat riskier. To get an instant sense of calm, moments before the start of the interview, imagine yourself as the interviewer and invert the relationship. You could develop an instant kinship with your interviewer and diffuse any hierarchal relationship you may be imagining. But because this hack takes place in real time, it is risky. If not done correctly, it could throw you off a bit. If it does, make a mid-course correction using the next hack.

  • Mind – your speed

If every applicant (who has been advised by us to slow down their answer delivery during a mock interview) makes a penny donation, we would collect a princely sum. For the typical applicant, their mind is racing, their palms are sweaty, their throat is dry, and the words come tumbling out in a torrent. Now is the time to visualize the female voice on the London Underground advising you to “mind the gap”. She is alerting you to the fact that there is a gap between what you have spoken and what the interviewer has registered. It’s time to mind your speed and slow down. But this takes practice and therefore the next hack makes an appearance.

  • 10K steps daily

We started this piece by suggesting that the ability to stay chill during a pressure interview, is a muscle that can be developed with practice. We end with the same thought. As with any muscle development, this one also takes consistent practice – the equivalent of 10K steps daily. Utilize the time between your interview invite and the actual invite, to practice taking the interview and befriending the hacks above, in real-time.

If you are convinced that it’s beneficial to develop your CQ so as to actually enjoy the application process – request our free, expert evaluation now.




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