Acting Up in Interview Situations
The Book of Lists registers public speaking as people's #1 fear and that debilitating performance anxiety can also creep in during interviews. One way for job seekers to meet this fear head on is to incorporate actor's techniques into their own "performances." Instead of viewing it as deceiving a potential employer, recognize that you are on stage in a sense and it's important to create an impression and connect with your audience - the interviewer. Here are five acting methods that will serve you well in an interview setting and improve your chances of landing the role.
#1 Maintain Eye Contact
Keep in mind that 55% of the impact you have is visual, which includes looks and body language. Visual begins with eye contact, which sends a message signaling acknowledgment, attention and a connection. When you look away too often, you risk sending the message that you are not interested. Studies reveal that there is a major correlation between the amount of eye contact someone receives and the amount they speak. Since you want to get as much information you can out of the interviewer about the company and the position, eye contact is vital. If looking directly into the eyes intimidates you, try the actor's trick of looking at the space between their eyebrows.
#2 Be Your Audience
There's a story about a nervous actor backstage before a show receiving advice from a seasoned veteran. The young actor confesses that his nerves are shot and he thinks he's going to be sick. The veteran replies "Stop being selfish. It doesn't matter how you feel. All the audience cares about is how your character feels." One way to switch your inward focus and let go of your own anxieties is to put yourself in your audience's place. What is the interviewer expecting? Understand the impact of watching a confident, calm performer who is genuinely interested in conveying something to the audience.
You've heard of actors doing breathing exercises before auditions and performances. There is a method to their madness. Our breathing tends to get shallow in stressful, nervous situations. Less breathing equals less oxygen, which inhibits functioning effectively. One deep breath before you begin speaking can do wonders for calming you and helping you present yourself clearly.
#4 Show Enthusiasm
Hiring Managers consistently laud enthusiasm, yet many people forget how effective it can be. "Zeal for a position often seals the deal," says Hiring Director Irene Forester. Nothing wins over an audience more than a positive attitude and passion. Showing your enthusiasm isn't limited to just your outward performance. It includes doing research and having well thought out questions to ask when it's your turn.
Actors talk about using their nervous energy constructively during performances, but the ability to relax can also calm the tempests that arise during interviews. Begin by relaxing the night before your interview. Use whatever techniques work best for you - yoga and meditation are often used by actors. When you have mastered relaxing in non-stressful environments it will be easier to relax during a stressful interview. Being calm will help you gather and organize your thoughts before you speak and will give your interviewer an impression of confidence.