The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, the elite demonstration squadron flies their aircraft so close to one another that the separation between wingtip and cockpit is 18 inches – and that is while traveling 400 miles per hour. Obviously these are skilled aviators who practice constantly. About an hour before show time, the squadron goes behind closed doors for one last rehearsal; their planes, however, remain in the hanger.They sit around a table, close their eyes and rehearse the entire show. A fly on the wall would observe the subtle movements of hands and feet as they mentally adjust the flight controls. They begin the turns as the leader commands OK. They react not to the sounds of “oh” or “aay” but to the precise moment at which the phoneme “ke” the smallest part of the spoken letter K is uttered.Jack Nicklaus, the “Golden Bear” golf great and winner of 18 major championships, including 6 U.S. Masters, had this to say:I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. First I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I see the ball going there; its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behavior on landing. Then there is a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality.If you learn and use these mental-imaging ideas they will propel you through your job interviews. You will:Be able to plan an unbeatable interview scenario
Anticipate and overcome the interview roadblocks
Maintain the level of confidence that will enable you to think swiftly so you can respond to unforeseen questions
Leave the interviewer with the picture of you being a top contenderThere are two elements in this topic that you will follow. The first is to set yourself up for a 30-day routine during which you will instill the role-play habit as an instinctive discipline. The second is to perform role-play exercises that are pertinent to the interview process itself.
Element One – Imprint the HabitSet aside 10 minutes a day, as early as possible. Turn off the cell phone, computer and lock the pets out of the room. Get into a comfortable position and then close your eyes; take a few deep breaths and then just relax. Think of the situation in which some interaction with a person is necessary. One where you might have to do a little convincing; a situation in which you were just stopped by a cop for a traffic violation, is a great example. As soon as you see the flashing red light in the rear-view mirror, your blood pressure jumps considerably, you begin to squirm and perhaps sweat a bit. If you are like most people your mind is be racing to find the right excuse, a defense that the officer may not have heard before. Well, fuhgeddaboutit as my favorite Brooklyn road sign advises.The officer has heard them all.It makes sense to know how to respond before you are in this situation. Make the plan then rehearse it so you are prepared to handle your interaction in a way that gives you the best chance to win the encounter.Picture the officer walking up to your car; what are you doing. Are you scrambling to open your glove compartment to get out your paperwork? Perhaps that is not what you should be doing. Police officers constantly are under tremendous threat. You all have seen dash videos of some horrible and deadly encounters. Perhaps the best approach is to sit still and, especially at night, turn on the interior lights and place both hands on the steering wheel. Relieving the officer’s uncertainty about your intentions will make the challenge one step easier for you. So, rehearse that part of the encounter. Picture the flashing light; are there two or three? What color is the police car? Is the officer wearing a hat? Is the officer carrying a ticket pad? What are you doing while all this is happening?The goals of this exercise are to:Develop the technique of seeing images in your mind clearly and with great detail
Ingrain the habit of seeing the characters and images that are part of the role-play scenario
Instill the belief that mental role-playing should be an automatic instinct before every interactionElement Two – Apply the Habit to InterviewingDuring subsequent postings I will cover different areas of the interview process. In a broad sense they are:Strategy planning
Preparation for a specific interview
The interview itself
Post-interview activityEach of the areas may have role-play scenarios unique to the specific topic. This element-two exercise, however, will go through one example – getting to the interviewer’s office.Set aside at least 10 minutes to do this exercise and do it until you feel comfortable. Do not try to memorize the steps in any of these role-playing episodes. The danger is that your actions may appear rehearsed and second, if you forget one step, you will go down in flames (or at least flounder around a bit).Turn off the cell phone, computer and eliminate any other distractions. Get into a comfortable position and then close your eyes; take a few deep breaths and just relax. You are walking toward the building; what are you wearing? Are you carrying a brief case, folder or a laptop? How is you walk – brisk, as if you are looking forward to the meeting or slow and slouchy as if you want to go back home? You walk into the office. How do you look and sound when the guard or receptionist greets you? Do you speak clearly and know exactly what you want to say and how you sound when you say it? Listen to your voice mentally; does it sound confident and inviting? Is it clear so that the response is not “pardon me” or “what’s that.”It is likely that you will have to wait a short while, especially if you are early (as you should plan). If you get to the interviewer’s building about 15 minutes before the scheduled time, it will allow you to relax a bit and do the “Blue Angel routine.” Sometimes it is difficult to close your eyes and appear zoned out; my method was to find a rest room, hide out in a stall and go through my rehearsal mentally for 5 or 10 minutes. I always picture a warm and thunderous welcome. I see people cheering as I walk in and others running over and patting me on the back while they offer assistance – I see, I feel, I hear victory. Unrealistic you say, perhaps but how many losing football teams have roared out the locker room, after a rousing half-time speech, to steamroll the opposition and win the game. Can you imagine the intensity of those thoughts as they listened, as they created the mental images and as they won the game before they even left the locker room? Check out this stirring performance by Al Pachino (there is some profanity so if you feel it might offend you please skip the viewing).
Make habit change a part of your daily routine. It does take only 30 days to imprint the new habit and there is a scientific explanation to support this which I have discussed in other postings. Make mental role play a part of your daily routine. If I go into a store, where I know sales people have the authority to make a pricing decision, I always role play the scenario. I know the price they give me is not what I will pay if I decide to purchase the item. Buying a new car is a perfect example. I know exactly how I will react when I get the price. I can visualize my demeanor, my response to the sales person, the expression on my face, my body language and what I will say next, if anything. At times my response has been “thank you” as I get up to leave. I cannot think of one time where the sales person or manager did not try to stop me and attempt to continue the conversation. At that point, I have the power.YOU WANT THAT POWER!Take it! You have heard the expression “you are what you think.” Nothing happens unless it is preceded by a thought. I intend to reiterate this extremely-important topic in all my articles and postings. Master the process and you will master every facet of your life.