How to Project Confidence in a Case Interview - Part 2

Email 1 of 2:

http://www.caseinterview.com/case-interview-confidence

Email 2 of 2:

Hi Victor!

I passed the first round interview! Thank you so much!

The feedback from the interviewers was that I had a good structure and I was asking the right questions (asking for the correct data to test the hypothesis).

I would not have been able to do this without your materials.

My final round consists of three interviews. They were all originally scheduled for today. However, due to some reasons, only one final round interview took place today. I will be attending the other two next week.

The feedback from my first final round interviewer was that I was nervous. I asked him whether there were any problems with my structure, and he said that the structure was fine.

I guess I will be practicing in front of my mirror a lot this weekend!

 

My Reply:

This is wonderful news.

In addition to practicing in front of the mirror, which simulates being more self conscious and allows you to practice looking more relaxed, I think it is useful to have a very specific mindset going into these interviews.

Normally, I would tell you to just relax, but I find that is very hard to do just by saying, because whenever you tell someone to relax, they end up trying harder to relax.  It's kind of like saying, "Do not think about a pink elephant."

What is the first thing you think about when I say that? That's right, you can't help but think about a pink elephant!

So, I am not going to tell you to relax.

Instead, I'm going to suggest two things, beyond practicing with Look Over My Shoulder® to master the case skills, and practicing synthesis in front of a mirror to get used to speaking while being "observed" by someone (in this case, yourself).

Here are the two things to keep in mind.

1) There's a very good chance you are smarter and better at case interviews than you think.

When I interviewed with McKinsey, I remember reading the recruiting brochure and I was so intimidated by the profiles of the people in it....

Rhodes Scholars, former MD's from Harvard Med, people with an MBA from Harvard and a JD from Yale (like geez, one of them wasn't enough), and people with two PHD's, Fortune 500 CEOs, etc...

Very, very intimidating.

I was originally just scared out of my pants. (It's a function of my having low self esteem -- and by the way McKinsey is loaded with an awful lot of very successful, but insecure people.)

And after getting offers there, working there, and doing very well on the job, I realized, "Hey, I can play at this level." My colleagues were not running circles around me.

Clients who ran billion-dollar businesses were very human -- and absolutely prone to making business mistakes, many of which I was catching and noticing in my work (as in, "Geez... that was a really dumb decision the client made three years ago").

And hands down the most useful part of the McKinsey experience for me was a complete removal of my being intimidated by anyone in the business world.

These days, when I speak to a group of CEOs of any size business, at any time, in any location, within 5 - 7 minutes, I will command the attention of the room.

They pay attention to what I have to say, because what I have to say is actually useful.  My confidence today came from that McKinsey experience, plus knowing my areas of expertise really well.

So let me tie this back to your situation.

First, you do not make it to McKinsey final round unless you are good, period.  So keep that in mind.

Second, and this may sound very self-serving, ego-centric, and ever arrogant, which is not my intention. But I don't know how to make the point I'm about to make without risking sounding this way.

Keep in mind what I am about to say reflects less about my perception of myself than what is factually true, and the logical conclusions that can be drawn from the data.

So here it is:

When it comes to case interviews, I really know my stuff.

This is backed both by my track record in passing cases (passing 60 out of 61 cases), getting seven job offers (including two of the Top 3), and being among the top 10 consultants in the entire world at McKinsey amongst those who started in the same year as I did at the same level that I did.

And I taught you everything I could possibly think of through the 12 Case Interview Secrets video tutorials, your investment in Look Over My Shoulder®, and my emails.
So given these two facts, I think it is reasonable to say you are objectively, and factually very well prepared.

So to the extent you might wonder about this point, the data suggests you need not worry about it.

So this is the first thing that I suggest you remember going into your final rounds.

Okay, now let me move on to my second big idea to remember right before you go into your final round interviews.

This next suggestion will seem absurdly simple to the point of not taking it seriously.  And if you do dismiss this next suggestion because it seems to simple, I guarantee you take a very big risk by doing so.

So what is this big idea?

SMILE and HAVE FUN

Yup, that's it.

Smiling/Laughing/Having Fun is completely incompatible with nervousness. It is humanly not possible to be Smiling/Laughing/Having Genuine Fun and come across as nervous at the same time.

If you just remember this one thing, all the other physical activities to show confidence automatically happen without your trying.  Your eye contact automatically improves.

Your pace of speech automatically slows down to a normal speed (not a rushed nervous speed). Your voice inflection automatically moves to a more natural varied one, rather than monotone. Your body language will automatically open upand be wider, rather than narrow and uptight.

There are a dozen little things that convey nervousness, but all of that goes away automatically if you just focus on having fun during your interview.

So don't focus on trying too hard to do well. Don't think about the consequences of doing well or not. Trust that you are well trained and that you will do what you have been trained to do.

And combined with the fact you made it to final round, which proves you have the raw talent, trust that statistically you have pretty good odds of getting an offer.

Trust me, the 40-minute interview is not where the decision is made, in terms of whether you get an offer. Your performance level in the case has already been decided by your decision weeks ago to prepare properly.

I get a lot of emails from people that start with, "I didn't get an offer and I know it was because I did not prepare."

Or, "I thought your materials were great, but I didn't discover them until the day before the interview and I didn't have time to use it."

Or, "I didn't think I needed to prepare, and I was wrong."

That is not you!

1) You did find the existence of these training materials with enough time to use them, and

2) You actually did decide to prepare, and made the very big investment of time and effort to focus on good preparation.

So your decision to prepare has an astronomically higher impact on your future performance in your interviews than what you might happen to do on that particular day.

During your interview, all you're going to do is do whatever makes the most sense to you.  However, it is the hours of training that have permanently altered your instinctive sense of "what makes sense" to do in a case.

So in large part, your performance on the upcoming interviews has already been determined.

Given that you already got to final round, indicating you have more than enough raw talent to get an offer, and given you already decided to prepare the best way possible, then the only thing left to focus on is to just....

SMILE and HAVE FUN

That's it.

Good Luck!

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