Article Category: Communication Skills

9 Steps to Conquer Nerves and Communicate Clearly in Interviews


Are you facing an important interview?

Would you like to go to your interview totally prepared and feeling like a well-toned athlete ready to win the championship?

Being interviewed for a job or by the media can generate the same tension and anxiety as public speaking does for many people.

In this article, you will learn to take on interviewing like an athlete preparing for the championship. You will understand how to prepare yourself to be transparent for interviews so that you can share yourself, your ideas and your expertise authentically.

Think about the word interview. Break it into syllables: in-ter-view. To be interviewed means to let someone see in to you, and that will feel vulnerable. So, like an athlete, you must prepare, not only to answer questions, but to open yourself to be transparent and to manage the physical tensions and emotional anxieties that happen when you are being evaluated or questioned.

I will outline nine steps for conquering your nerves and communicating clearly that I have both taught my clients who were preparing to interview and used successfully myself.

These steps will be divided into three sections

  1. Changing the way you think about the interview process
  2. Preparing to share your experience and expertise
  3. Handling the bodily-felt tension and anxiety

How to Think about the Interview

1. Be there to help.

Don’t think about an interview as an audition or test. Thinking so puts you in the position of being judged, which will trigger tension and anxiety. Instead, think about your interview as an opportunity to help the interviewer.

Remember that the interviewer need help. He is looking for someone to hire because his company needs someone to help them be successful. So, think in terms of helping the interviewer find out how you can help his company. If you are being interviewed by the media, think about helping the reporter and his listeners understand something that you know about.

2. Detach from the outcome.

Let go of it having to be a certain way. Evaluate your expectations and really look at what you think needs to happen in the interview. Anytime you have to have it be a certain way, you will be stressed.

So, evaluate what you are pressing to have happen and then let it go. Be willing for it not to happen the way you want it. This puts you in neutral energy where you can feel open to more possibilities. Turn your results over to a higher power and ask that the outcome be for the highest good of all concerned.

Prepare to Answer Questions

3. Determine likely interview questions.

List on paper the questions that your interviewer will most likely ask you to answer. Be sure to include the really hard interview questions that you are afraid to answer. And also include, “Tell me about yourself.”

4. Write and practice your answers.

For each of the questions, write your answers on paper.

Then, practice them aloud until you can share your answers fluidly. You may be tempted to skip the practice, but don’t. Vocal expression is different from the thought process. You must speak your answers out loud for fluid expression.

5. Decide how to sell yourself.

Next, list on paper the important points that you want to communicate to the interviewer about your background, abilities, qualities, experience and expertise.

6. Illustrate key points with stories.

For each important point you want to make, write down the things you want to share and an example (story) that backs up the point.

For instance, if you say you managed a team effectively, tell a story about a challenging situation that happened that proves you managed the team well. Then, practice sharing your points and stories aloud until you can speak them fluidly.

Handling Tension and Anxiety

7. Warm up your body.

Before you go to your interview, do enough physical exercise so that your body is loose and flowing. Make sure you stretch fully and that you elevate your heart rate so that blood is pumping.

Most people don’t realize how much physical tension impairs their ability to communicate freely. Actors and athletes know the power of warming up. You should too.

8. Ground yourself in your body.

Get out of your head and into your body. Learn to relax your mental attention down into your body all the way to your feet.

Imagine you melt energy out of your head and let it flow down through your body until you fill your entire body. Grounding clears your head and creates a sense of physical strength and emotional safety. You can think on your feet when you are in you feet, and you can speak from your heart when you have attention in your heart area. This is the most effective antidote to performance and presentation anxiety I know.

9. Breathe.

Really. Breathe. After you ground yourself, take deep breaths, fast breaths, and slow breaths until you relax. Breathing helps your brain oxygenate and relaxes your body. Focus on breathing for 10 minutes an hour before your interview.

When you have finished these steps, you will feel ready to interview. Instead of feeling dread, you will be eager to get to the interview so you can share yourself. You will feel like an athlete who is ready to take on the current world champion.

This is one of many public speaking articles featured on Six Minutes.
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Comments icon4 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I must admit that you have given a complete and detailed guideline about the interview sessions and the questions asked.

  2. Lynn Bo says:

    This was a fantastic post! I use some of these techniques when I am going to be speaking. Even communication “experts” get the jitters. I will add this site to my blog as well.

  3. Sandra: good points all around. I especially like #3 – prepare your answers. I know that when I interview people for a job, I’m really trying to find a way to accept them. If they can answer my questions with examples of how they’ve done similar work before, then I’m much more likely to consider them for the job!

  4. Sandra, this is an excellent article! I, too, am a former singer/actress very recently turned public speaker and presentation skills trainer. It’s so validating to see someone well-established in this field say the same things I teach in my workshop. I especially appreciate points 1 and 2. For myself, the key to overcoming stage fright was to focus on giving instead of what I feared the audience thought of me. In fact, I just wrote a blog post about that! http://www.tipsontalking.com/2010/02/love-as-a-presentation-skill/ I have bookmarked your blog and will return often. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise!

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brenogazzola

brenogazzola @brenogazzola — Dec 4th, 2008

Six Minutes has a great post on how to do well on interviews: http://is.gd/abxt

dankrohn

Daniel Krohn @dankrohn — Dec 8th, 2008

Article by my friend and speaking coach Sandra Zimmer on job interview technique: http://tinyurl.com/5coplw .

jwooten50

Jimmy Wooten @jwooten50 — Feb 27th, 2012

9 Steps to Conquer Nerves and Communicate Clearly in Interviews http://t.co/5jhGcP3S via @6minutes

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