Public speaking may be a huge fear for many, but mastering the skills it takes to speak in front of crowds can help take the edge off a stressful job interview.
Approaching a job interview like you'd approach a speech can help you organize your thoughts, boost your confidence and be prepared for anything.
"A job interview is not a conversation, it's a performance that has to look like a conversation," says Natalie Rogers, author of "The New Talkpower: The Mind Body Way to Speak Without Fear," (Capital Books, $15.95). "A performance is a situation where there is an agenda, there is certain information you want to convey about yourself."
Here are 5 tips from experts on how to use public speaking methods to prepare for an interview:
1. Know your subject: Your first step is to learn as much as you can about your own job history, the company you are interviewing with and even the person who will be interviewing you. This base of knowledge will help you create a solid foundation of confidence.
"Confidence in one's ability to do anything develops out of a sense of competence, and that sense of competence comes from knowing your subject cold," says Susan Jay, senior director of non-credit programming at Florida International University in Miami. FIU's non-credit programming includes courses in communication and public speaking.
2. Rehearse your lines: Make a list of the interview questions you think you are going to be asked (a book on common interview questions can help), and write out your responses to them. Then, rehearse your answers until you feel you have thoroughly learned them.
"Have it as rehearsed as possible, but not in the sense that you'll be stiff and robotic, but clear in the information you'll be giving," Rogers says. "You rehearse it by reading first, and then you do it without the script. Once you put the script down you are not reading anymore, so it would be more natural."
A good way to learn your responses is by practicing with a friend, having them play the role of the interviewer.
"The friend should not be too critical, though," Rogers says. "Tell them, 'If you don't understand something I'm saying to you, then tell me that, but don't critique my style.'"
3. Break it down: Crafting a successful speech involves presenting information with clarity. Use this public speaking principle when preparing for your interview by breaking down complex information into sections.
"When you respond to a question you can say, 'I'd like to break it down into two areas,'" Rogers says. "This will help you structure your answers so you are not wandering and meandering all over the place."
4. Stick to the script: During your interview, do your best to stay true to the responses you rehearsed - it will help keep you focused and clear. "Some people become bored and they begin to change what they said - that's bad," Rogers says. "Don't try to change it, because that's a slippery slope. You're an actor, you're doing the performance, just repeat it the way it's done." Don't be thrown if your interviewer asks you a question you're not prepared for. Just repeat their question before you begin to respond. For example, if your interviewer asks, "Why are you interested in working here?" then start your response with "I'm interested in joining the ranks because..."
5. Control your actions: You'll need to master your non-verbal performance. After all, public speakers know that appearance counts, too.
"Within the interview, what helps to frame your confidence is the non-verbal presentation," Jay says. "Dressing appropriately, giving a strong handshake, making direct eye contact, speaking slowly and smiling - they help to set the table for who you are."
- Marla Caceres