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Get Better at High Stakes Situations like Job Interviews

12 May 2021

A high stakes situation is one in which a lot rides on the outcome of how things go during the situation.  There is usually risk and/or serious consequences involved.  Job Interviews are usually fairly high stakes situations.

Two factors make you better at handling high stakes situations:

Exposure and practice being in them
Being good at regulating your emotions

Most of us don't get much exposure or practice in being in high stakes situations, yet research strongly supports the finding that practice is most useful in enhancing performance when it is undertaken in circumstances that mirror those you will be performing in.  What this means is that practicing answering interview questions is best done in interview like situations, which has you performing with pressures similar to those you will face.

Additionally, it is useful to notice and acknowledge the situations you do find yourself in that are high stakes.  Reflection is the one of the most useful tools for learning, so reflecting and recognising how you handle other consequential situations (e.g. price negotiations, teenager demands, negotiating for leave, ...), will give you insights you can take to handling job interviews.

Emotional regulation (part of emotional Intelligence) is a skills that has untold applications, with capacity to handle job interviews just one of them.  In high stakes situations the emotions you bring will act as triggers of contagion for others.  Good ways to consciously direct your emotions during a high stakes situation like a job interview are:

  • Name the emotion you are experiencing as this has the automatic impact of dampening it
  • Consciously reframe your emotion to one that will be useful (excitement is good for a job interview)
  • Elevate your desired emotions with external things such as music, exercise, and the input/help of other people
  • Feed your desired emotion with a mantra or positive affirmations that drown out any negative talk you might have
  • Use posture to intentionally elevate desired emotions - smile, stand or sit straight, lift your chin, take up space

Job interviews are one of the rare high stakes situations that we can plan for, and doing work to better handle them will not just pay off in our career, but will also make it more likely we will successfully navigate the less predictable high stakes situations in our lives.

As always, wishing you a flourishing career.


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