It is 100% normal and natural to feel the jitters when you’re going into your MBA interview. We talked a little about anxiety in our post yesterday about whether or not to research your MBA interviewer.
Anxiety has a bit of a bad rap in society these days. Lots of people struggle with extreme anxiety experiences, and that can certainly impair functioning and impact quality of life. But it’s impossible, and not even desirable, to eliminate anxiety from your life completely. While anxiety may seem “bad” it’s actually something that’s good.
Because anxiety is motivating. That’s the whole point of anxiety. We evolved this feeling of anxiety as organisms because we need to survive.
Anxiety alerts you to something in the environment that needs your attention.
And guess what? Getting invited to interview is something that needs your attention!!
Sometimes we encounter applicants who are very laissez-faire about their MBA interview. They kind of know that preparation is important, and maybe they look through a few lists of sample interview questions on the internet which are the standards like “Tell me about yourself” and “What are you career goals?” and “Why do you want an MBA from this school?” and since they just finished a marathon of essay-writing on exactly those topics, they figure, meh. I got this. I know those questions cold.
Delivering your answers to any of those questions in person can be much harder than most people anticipate!
Having too-little anxiety at the outset of the process is correlated with poor performance and bad outcomes.
Obviously having too much anxiety is also not so great, as it can really mess with you and affect how you perform. If you’re not sleeping at night because you’re wound up about this upcoming date with your interviewer, then yeah, that’s going to change how you feel in the morning. If you can’t focus at work, you’ll add to the stress, and you may have to work late when you weren’t planning on it, and then dang it, there goes the time you’d planned for some interview prep. It snowballs. All because the anxiety crept in and took over. When you become a victim to these issues it’s the real deal, and we really do recommend getting professional help from a qualified therapist if you’re finding that your moods are interfering with functioning. There’s very good therapeutic treatments available and you can get help for it.
But it’s not realistic that you’ll never feel any anxiety again — and check this out! A certain amount of anxiety is actually a good thing!
There’s something called the Yerkes Dodson Law which shows the relationship between stressful symptoms and anxious mood, and performance on particular tasks.
Here’s the curve lifted from Wikipedia :
And here’s an article in HBR on the same phenomenon .
So, at risk of making you more anxious when you’re already too anxious, you can ask yourself:
How anxious about this interview am I?
It’s guaranteed that you’re going to be nervous going into the actual interview.
And, it’s likely you’ll feel butterflies leading up to the big day, too.
Do you have tools for managing this?
What they call “self care” is so important. Put in a good workout as part of your interview prep — like, every day, if that’s something you’re already accustomed to. If not, then even taking a brisk walk is going to help. Get those endorphins working for you.
A walk in the woods.
You know. The healthy habits. The things that make you feel good, that last. That don’t make you feel worse later.
How you manage these stressors significantly affects your overall health, and your ability to navigate life on life’s terms.
And, now we know too: Getting yourself modulated and combobulated again, after you become discombobulated, is likely going to lead to better performance when it matters most.
Don’t let it stress you out, BSer — use your biology to your own advantage!!
Any tips or tricks or special ways you help yourself stay centered and calm? Lay ’em on us in the comments! Always eager to hear life tips to spread around to those who are grappling with the same challenges as you, trying to better their lives and master themselves with insight and even equanimity.
And then when the big day comes, and you’re feeling nervous: Take some deep breaths, and know: You got this!!