Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

4 Preparation Techniques for Getting In the Zone Before a Big Interview

This post was written by Erica Zahka, Babson alum (MBA ’16) and Founder/CEO of Own The Boardroom.

 A first impression is all about the energy you project and how you’re perceived.  A good first impression can open doors of opportunity, while a bad first impression can leave you with missed opportunities. Business Insider, among other sources, validate that seven seconds is all you get to make that impact.

As we discussed during Babson’s Spring Into Internships! event in January, to present yourself in a certain way, you must truly feel that way. This means part of presenting your executive-self is about feeling comfortable, confident, and competent. To get there, try these four preparation techniques before your next big interview or business event.

  1. Power Posing

A power pose is a victory stance (see examples above). A typical power pose means straight back, chin up, feet hip-width apart, with your hands on your hips or above your head. “Mountain pose” in yoga is another version of a power pose. Holding any of these poses will increase your energy, positivity, and focus. They make you feel like a winner!

Try it before leaving the house, while waiting in your car before a big meeting, or in a bathroom stall if you’re in a public place. How do you feel?

  1. Visualizations

If you’re an athlete or performer, you may be familiar with this technique. There are many different types of visualization; essentially, you imagine the ideal scenario for what you’re about to experience.

It is critical that your visualization is positive because this exercise helps program you for the real deal. Don’t skimp on details: imagine yourself walking into the room, shaking hands with the hiring manager, etc. Being able to guide your internal self through the details with a positive outcome will help you automatically do the same in real life.

  1. Affirmations

For an affirmation to work it must be positive, short, and repeated aloud (multiple times) with confidence. Your thoughts are influenced by what you hear, so hearing positive things will make you think in a positive way.

In this short video, Jessica declares affirmations about her life in front of the bathroom mirror. Affirmations as a 5-year-old are a little different than what you may find yourself repeating before an interview, but you’ll see the effect is the same: by the end of the video she is energized, focused, and declares, “I can do anything great!”

Test out the affirmations written above while getting ready in the morning. Saying them in front of a mirror can help you feel more connected to the statements.

  1. Dressing the part

Have you ever had to wear traditional business attire? If you’re like me, and most young working professionals today, you probably had to at some point.

But do you have to suit up every day? Every week? Most likely, no.

The majority of offices these days have some version of a casual dress code – even JP Morgan is now business casual!  However, professional attire can still be required if you want to put your best-foot forward in high-profile situations such as interviews, executive presentations, sales meetings, and networking events.

To make sure I always dress appropriately for any business event, I like to envision the dress code spectrum as a ladder. The higher up you climb on the ladder, the more formal the dress code becomes.

When dressing for an interview, you ideally want to present yourself as a culture fit for the company while being professional. This can feel like a juxtaposition when you’re trying to look professional in a company that has a casual dress code.

For scenarios when you need to leave that powerful first impression, I recommend dressing one rung higher than the standard dress code of the event or company.

Read this for a more in-depth guide of dress codes.


What “in the zone” routine works best for you? I like to get dressed in my business outfit, face myself in the mirror, and repeat an affirmation while holding a power pose. This combination gives me a huge surge in confidence, positivity, and energy, and makes me feel ready for the day ahead.

Are you ready to own the boardroom?


Erica is a Babson alum (MBA ’16) and Founder/CEO of Own The Boardroom

OTB is focused on helping you present your executive self without needing an executive salary. If you’re a college student preparing for interviews, why spend hundreds on something that will sit in the back of your closet when you can save money and rent for the occasion?

Check out Own The Boardroom for that affordable alternative to buying expensive professional attire, and join our email list to receive helpful tips straight to your inbox.