Chicago Tribune (Sunday)

Take the stage

10 ways to shine bright during a job interview

- — Marco Buscaglia, Careers

If you fear the spotlight, you’ll never get the job. Sound advice for aspiring actors? Maybe. But for career adviser Jennifer Peters, fearing the spotlight is the best way to remain unemployed. So she tells her clients to get over it and get out there. “I want them to tackle the interview like they’re performing in front of an audience,” says Peters, who lives in Los Angeles. “You don’t need to act like an insufferab­le blowhard but you do have to make sure your efforts are exaggerate­d, especially if you’re interviewi­ng online. You want to be a presence, not just a meek voice on a screen.”

How do you get to that point? We checked with a few job experts to find out. Here are 10 tips to help you overcome your fear of interviewi­ng:

1. Get some sleep. “There’s really no way around it. Your brain needs to be functionin­g at a high level to have an extraeffec­tive interview,” says Geraldine Norte, owner of Best for Business, an HR consulting firm in New York. “If your interview is in the morning, get a full night’s rest. If you have an interview in the late afternoon, find a way to grab a quick nap beforehand.”

2. Write out a script ahead of time. “Prepare yourself for questions that will be asked and questions you want to ask,” says Norte. “There are numerous sources you can find online that highlight the typical and atypical interview questions. Be sure you are prepared for all of them. Preparedne­ss is probably your best defense in avoiding stage fright.”

3. Visualize it in your head. “Granted, sometimes our preintervi­ew visualizat­ions are completely off base, it’s still very helpful to see yourself going through the interview process before it actually begins,” says Norte. “I’ve been told by people that at times, they see things that they pretty much envisioned the night before, especially mistakes and gaffes they make during the interview. That’s important. If you see yourself doing something ahead of time, it’s more likely you will be able to overcome it during the interview.”

4. Be comfortabl­e. Don’t squeeze into an interview suit if you’ve gained a few pounds since its last appearance. Take it to a

tailor so you can sit and move around in comfort. Also wear light clothing, if possible, and find a spot to cool off if you’re sweating from your commute to the office. If you’re home, cool off your space before the interview begins. “Sweat isn’t just a sign to your interviewe­r that you’re nervous. It also can serve as an indicator for your own body that you are nervous or uncomforta­ble,” says Karen Dalton, an executive recruiter from San Francisco. “Your body responds to sweat and soon, you may find that your personalit­y will begin to match your appearance.”

5. Control your eyes. “It sounds simple but many of us have eyes that dart around the room or look anywhere but into the interviewe­r’s eyes,” says Dalton. “Shift your eyes from your interviewe­r’s head to his hands to his forehead to your own paperwork. Keep your eyes moving. Don’t lock in on one thing. If you’re online, look at your camera, not the person.” Dalton says the single-vision approach can be similar to locking your knees when standing for a long period of time. “Lock them up too long and you faint,” she says.

6. Smile and laugh. Tell a story about yourself that conjures up a good memory, says Norte. “Certainly, all of us have that personal or profession­al anecdote that has a bit of a humorous element to it. If you lead with that, or work it into your interview at some point, you will feel better about yourself and about your chances,” she says. “It will loosen you up and put you at ease.”

7. Keep swinging. If you think the interview is going badly, don’t give up. “It’s like a boxing match,” says Dalton. “Take yourself off the canvas and keep fighting. Your interviewe­r will

remember the last five minutes of an interview, if they’re great, instead of the first 25 minutes if they’re awful. Just react and adjust.”

8. Ask questions. One of the easiest ways to control your nerves is to get the interviewe­r to do some of the talking while you mentally regroup. “If you can make a connection with something you see on his or her desk or something you read about online, go ahead and do it,” says Mark Gerloch, a speech coach in Champaign, Illinois. “They’ll probably be comfortabl­e talking about themselves, which will feed into your own comfort with yourself.”

9. Find your voice. “There is nothing worse than an interviewe­r stopping a job candidate because he simply can’t hear him,” says Gerloch. “People often speak softly when they’re nervous and that will only compound the situation. Instead, make sure you speak clearly and directly to the person doing the interview. It can be a struggle at first but practice with someone until you get it right.”

10. Keep it in perspectiv­e. It’s not the end of the world if you have a bad interview. “People have lousy interviews all the time and still get the job,” says Dalton. “Other people have great energy and great interviews and don’t even become a finalist for the position. You never know what factors are in play when you’re interviewi­ng for a job. You just have to put yourself out there. You have to believe that if you don’t get this job, you’ll get the next one.”

 ??  ?? Job interviews are your chance to really impress a potential employer.
Job interviews are your chance to really impress a potential employer.

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