Job Search Tip of the Week #41 (2017)

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5 Steps to Conquer Interview Presentation Anxiety



This is an exclusive guest post for CareerJuice by serial entrepreneur and author Toke Kruse. Since the age of 18, Kruse has launched nearly a dozen companies and currently serves as the owner and CEO of Slideshop.com.



    An employer has the right to hire any candidate they deem fit for the job. What comes along with that is the prerogative to use a number of screening challenges: cultural fit assessments, coding tests, technical interviews, and in some cases, group or panel interview presentations.

    It can be nerve-wracking to speak in front of an IT recruiter or interview panel who has a say in your future. When not handled gracefully, the anxiety evokes physical, emotional, and mental uneasiness: your underarms sweat, your heart palpitates, you feel restless, and your mind goes blank. However, as an applicant vying for a dream job, you can’t allow yourself to panic and be doomed to failure. There must be something you can do to keep your nerves under control!

    Why you feel tense during a presentation

    According to Joseph LeDoux, a psychology and neuroscience professor at New York University, fear can be physiologically explained as the result of an autonomic response to a perceived threat. Although what elicits fear varies between individuals, people respond to them similarly: the brain has been pre-programmed to release certain chemicals in the presence of fear-inducing stimuli such as a poisonous snake – or for some in an IT recruitment scenario, an interview presentation.

    How to overcome presentation anxiety

    The best way to deal with presentation anxiety is to learn to perceive public speaking as a mere career challenge, rather than a life-threatening event. How do you go about that? Try these stress management techniques:

    1. Admit your fear.

      Do you lack confidence in your verbal communication skills? Are you worried about making an embarrassing mistake in front of a judging panel? Have you been mocked after delivering a speech in the past?

      You’ll never move forward in your career until you fully admit you have a problem with presenting, and do something about it. Refusing to do so limits your career potential. For example, you may find yourself turning down a promotion for supervisor or managerial positions such as technical team lead or software development manager because they require public speaking and communication skills.
    2. Prepare.

      Do not underestimate the value of preparation. Once you learn you are required to do an interview presentation, do your research. Know who your audience will be and where the interview will take place. Thoroughly research your topic, then structure your presentation and make sure you cover important information. Prepare materials that reinforce your salient points. The better equipped you are, the more composed you will be.
    3. Practice.

      In an interview presentation, familiarity breeds confidence. If you practice your speech several times, the end result is not only confidence but also improved content. As you practice your presentation out loud, you’ll “hear” better ways of presenting your ideas. For example, you’ll be able to gauge things like whether your notes are easy to follow, or whether you have the tendency to beat around the bush. The sooner you spot areas where you can improve, the more opportunities you have to correct them.
    4. Get yourself some more “real world” exposure.

      If you’re given opportunities to speak in front of groups, take them! The best way to succeed in a presentation interview is to expose yourself to real situations that boost your confidence and ease of self-expression. Start with small gatherings with friends, or consider checking out the activities of your local Toastmaster’s Club.
    5. Just breathe.

      A few minutes before your interview presentation, assure yourself that you’re going to ace it, and keep your cool. Don’t forget to take a few deep breaths! As “The Mother” from the popular American sitcom How I Met Your Mother put it, “Sometimes even three deep breaths can change everything.”



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