I have always thought preparation is the most important of the job interview tips we pass along. I have been a long time advocate of preparation in all it’s forms, but I still don’t hear of many people preparing, maintaining or improving their general mental awareness. This is surprising because it’s perhaps the most important preparation you can do.
A recent article by PsyBlog (A blog dedicated to helping you understand your mind) demonstrated that preparing the brain by writing about a time you had high power before you write an application letter or before you take part in an interview can lead to better performance.
For both the application letter and the interview studies, though, the researchers manipulated how much power they felt:
Application letter experiment: before they wrote the letter, half the participants wrote about a time when they had power and half about a time when they didn’t.
Interview experiment: one-third of participants wrote about a time they had high power, one-third low power and the final third didn’t write about anything beforehand.
Here are the results:
Application letter experiment: people expressed a little more self-confidence when they thought about high-power situations beforehand, compared with lower power situations.
Interview experiment: in the mock interview, 47% of participants who didn’t write anything in advance were accepted for the ‘job’. This went up to 68% when they wrote about a high power situation and down to only 26% for those who wrote about feeling low in power.
This shows that the exercise of writing about a high-power situation before a job interview can be beneficial. It may also be marginally helpful when writing the interview letter.
While this article focuses on writing about high points in your life to improve performance during these tasks, it is believed that almost any mentally challenging activity, performed regularly, be beneficial to long term brain health. There is data suggesting performing simple maths equations at speed can ‘boost’ your brain’s performance, but it could be as simple as having a game of sudoku, doing a crossword or reading out aloud.
While mental preparation is clearly proven to work, remember not to get carried away, particularly with the more fun brain exercise activities. As much as these activities are good for you, they’re also awesome tools of procrastination, so remember like with most things, moderation is the key. So while an apple a day is good for a healthy body, it appears that some brain exercise each day could be the answer to a healthy brain.
PS: You can read the entire PsyBlog article here.