By Michelle Y. Drake
Walking into an interview often stirs up the same kind of anxiety as walking out onto a stage in front of a crowd of people.
Even though it's only you and the interviewer in the room, you're in the spotlight. You're there to make a sales presentation about yourself and to convince the interviewer that you're the best candidate for the job.
Sometimes we let our apprehension get the better of us, and all the fidgeting and stuttering and nervous habits we have when we’re tense come bubbling to the surface and ruin the opportunity to put our best self forward.
Fight the fear and get those behaviors in check!
Start by BREATHING. It seems simple enough, but it's alarming how often we forget to breathe when we're overcome by nerves.
Slow, deep breaths will help keep the oxygen moving into the brain, allowing us to retrieve the answers to the tough questions.
Be militant about practicing the points you want to get across. Review your resume and make sure you’re well-versed in every item listed in the job description and how your experience and accomplishments like up with them.
CAUTION: while rehearsing is a necessity, sounding rehearsed is a no-no. Memorize specific ideas and topic points, not scripted words.
Exercise your speaking voice. Pay attention to keeping your rhythm even and relaxed, and practice your annunciation, proper volume and the tone of your voice. Don’t be Mr./Ms. Monotone!
Keep your message clear and concise. Irrelevant details will cloud your message. If you start to rambling, pause to collect your thoughts. After the interviewer poses a question, think about the most important thing you need to say to answer it. Start with that and then elaborate when necessary.
You're not a Valley Girl so don’t talk like one! Silence is preferable and more professional than "um," "like," "you know," and "uh."
And last but not least, do NOT make a joke. A joke will break the ice, right? WRONG. Usually it does just the opposite. Stay away from humor, especially if you’re the type that laughs when they’re nervous. The only thing worse than dead silence after a joke is filling that silence with your own uncontrollable giggling.
You know that you have the skills and experience to make you a valuable member of this organization. Let your inner professional shine through so the interviewer knows it, too.
Michelle Yozzo Drake is the author of the book, "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Uncovering Mom's Leadership Secrets.".