How not to let your mind stray becuae of fear/uncertainty

Bain BCG Case Interview MBB McKinsey stress
Recent activity on Dec 02, 2018
2 Answers
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Well, this might be a general problem that anyone would face during any event in their life. However, during my live case interview preperation I noticed how easily I could be overwhelmed.

To be more precise, when I ask for a moment to structure my frame, I spend most of the time thinking about how much time I lost (and not actually thinking about how best to crack this case in hand). It is really hard to focus clearly and type down any kind of logical framework. Moreover, even if I had the framework set, I feel my energy gets down, and can't articulate my thoughts clearly and confidently.

Well, I don't need a psychotherapy analysis of my situation :D . I know that this might be normal for lots of people depending on the different situations they face.

However, I would appreciate any recommendations regarding that problem. Please give more than "be calm" , "don't worry", "What's the worst that could happen?" .. etc... Because I already baked all this in. You may advice me to have more practice because that's how people improve.

What can I do more besides practicing ? What recommendations/books could give me insights to get to be always UP amongst uncertainties?

Thanks a lot :)

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Hi Asser,

I believe Jacopo already provided an extensive list of good tips. I would add the following:

  1. Practice is key. The elements you described are typical of the initial stage of preparation (not only for consulting interviews). You will need a minimum amount of cases to become “fluent” in presenting and structuring cases. After 20-30 cases I am pretty sure you will notice a difference in presenting/structuring your initial approach. The more you do, the more your confidence will grow. If you want to speed up the process, you should try to find experienced partners or experts that can pinpoint faster the mistakes you are doing.
  2. Acknowledge it is ok to do mistakes. In your case prep your goal should not be to be perfect, but to perform at your best, collect the feedback and improve for the next case. You basically have to see your case prep as a path to reaching your goal – the offer. The mental state of mind should be that each mistake you do in the case prep is an opportunity to get closer to your goal and that you will get there eventually. Such state of mind can release a lot of tension in the preparation and help you to focus on the case instead of worrying to be perfect.
  3. Keep track of your performance. Even if you feel you are not progressing much, keep track of your performance in case interviews (number of cases per week, number of mistakes in math and communication etc). Little by little you should see you are improving on what you are doing. If you don’t keep track of your performance though you will hardly notice the improvements and could get discouraged. This is critical in everything that requires time to reach a goal, as consulting prep, to stay motivated.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Hi Asser,

That is a great question for a common issue…you are not alone!

First of all, remember that some interview 'anxiety' is a normal part of the recruiting process; some people, depending on their personality and personal situation, can feel that pressure higher than others: that eventually can impact the outcome of the interview and not reflect your true abilities.

The causes of 'anxiety' include a fear of failure, lack of adequate preparation, or negative experiences from the past…the good news is that there are ways to manage 'anxiety' during a stressful test.

I am not an expert on the subject, and you probably won’t find a single fix, but I can share with you a few tips that worked for some friends and me as well during my first case interviews. You can develop your own routine to overcome the issue.

While preparing:

  1. Be prepared: this seems obvious, but it is worth repeating. If you develop a robust and consistent method for case interview, then cracking cases will become a habit. Consistency should be your objective as you prepare for cases…so practice, practice and practice. Having a session with an expert can also provide the extra boost you need to feel cool and collected.
  2. Focus on calm breathing and positive thoughts: deep breathing will slow down a beating heart and a racing mind so practice these techniques at home
  3. Have a positive mental attitude: use a mantra like ‘I worked hard and I deserve this’
  4. Get good sleep: pulling an all nighter will only exacerbate your nerves - have adequate rest and avoid stressful last minute preparation the day before the interview
  5. Fuel up: eat a balanced and nutritious meal before the interview; look for foods that provide a steady stream of nutrients rather than a sugar high followed by a crash

On the interview day:

  1. Get to the interview site early: being rushed will only amplify the anxiety. On a personal note, when interviewing my routine was always the same: I used to arrive 10/15 min earlier to familiarize with the place; I would always pay a visit to the restroom and ask the receptionist/HR person a glass of water. That very quick exploration helped me a lot to feel more confident J
  2. Listen carefully to the interviewer: there is nothing worse than putting time into a question and realizing that you are not solving for that – slowing down can help stay focused
  3. Make the best use of thinking time: two minutes silence will feel like a long time but are very important to prepare a high quality two-way dialogue with the interviewer. Feel confident about taking that time and do not pay attention to the awkard silence in the room (interviewers are very much used to it)
  4. Put practice into play: apply your consistent method for case interview, breathing techniques if needed and let it fly :)

You have asked about a book…I haven’t read it, but several people recommended it to me ‘Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most’ so if you have time it could be worth a read.

I hope this helps; I am sure others will share their best practices too.
Fel free to reach out if you have questions/doubts/more points to discuss.

Best of luck!
Jacopo

(edited)

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Francesco

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