PREPARING FOR INTERVIEWS: 6 TIPS FOR EASING INTERVIEW ANXIETY
If you're not used to doing interviews, chances are the prospect makes you nervous. Even experienced speakers may freeze up in anticipation of unknown questions and uncertainty over how to answer.
Fortunately there are some steps you can take to reduce interview anxiety. Here are some tips on how to get ready before your interview to improve your performance and ease your stress.
1. Plan an Offer
Start by focusing on the goal of your interview. Knowing where you're heading will help distract you from anxiety and navigate towards the results you want.
If you're promoting a product or service, usually the goal is to get the audience to follow up with some action. The action may be visiting a website, calling a phone number, or buying a book, for example.
Decide what action you want your audience to take ahead of time, and plan your interview accordingly. Use the desired action to rehearse how you will respond to answers, and look for opportunities during the interview to invite your audience to take follow-up action.
You should also coordinate your follow-up action with any promotional partners you have. For instance, if you are selling a book, you might make arrangements with local bookstores ahead of time in order to set up a special offer you can mention during the interview.
2. Prepare Index Cards
To help your host promote you, you should prepare a set of three index cards before your interview: one for the producer, one for the host, and one for the station's phone operator. The index cards should contain key information to facilitate your desired follow-up action, such as your name, the name of the product or service or event you're promoting, the price, and instructions with a toll-free phone number or website link audience members can use to contact you.
3. Prepare a List of Questions and Answers
Preparing questions and answers ahead of time in written form helps both you and your host. It helps you plan what to say, and it saves your host research time. Of course your host will have their own questions as well, and there is no guarantee they will follow your script, but suggesting some questions and answers will help them in developing good questions that will work towards your benefit.
Typical questions involve topics such as how you got started, what you're currently doing, your future plans, and tips for your audience. Think of questions that give you an opportunity to invite your audience to your desired follow-up action. However, remember that the purpose of your interview is to serve your audience's needs, and beware of turning the whole interview into a self-serving plug. Find the common ground between you and your audience that meets their needs with what you have to offer.
4. Practice Relaxing
Interview anxiety tenses you up physiologically, affecting your muscular tension, breathing, and concentration. You can alleviate these effects by practicing relaxation techniques regularly and before your interview. Good posture, deep breathing, and mental calming exercises will help you relax and focus during your interview.
5. Practice Annunciating
Interview anxiety tends to make you breathe shallower and faster, which can make your speech harder to understand. This can aggravate any habitual speaking problems you may already have.
Counter this tendency by practicing your annunciation. A good way to do this is to practice breathing slowly and projecting your voice while reading aloud or carrying on conversations. You can practice with your interview questions and answers as well as with other material.
One of the best antidotes to interview anxiety is rehearsal. Even running through your questions and answers aloud once will help you feel more prepared. I find that rehearsing once the night before and once an hour ahead of an interview helps tremendously.
For extra practice, get a friend to play interview host. Ideally your actual host will run you through a mini-rehearsal before your interview. This is not always possible, but if you know the host or have enough time you might arrange it.
You can also think of each interview as a rehearsal for the next one. Hosts will often repeat the same questions, and the more interviews you do, the more naturally the answers will come to you. As time goes on, you'll find interview anxiety becomes less and less and you feel more and more comfortable giving interviews.