Hi Jen. I have an awkward question. Whenever I am in an interview and get asked a tough question, I get a knot in my throat like I am going to cry, even though I have good, well rehearsed answers. Sometimes I choke up. I talk through it, but it is noticeable. How can I get over this? I’ve tried practicing with mock interviews, but it only happens during the real deal. My industry is small so I can’t set up a bunch of fake “real” interviews just for practice.
Interesting! First — I’m quite serious here — I would invest in seeing a professional about this. Here in NYC I’ve met a couple of psychologists who deal with things like test stress, sports performance, etc. Perhaps this can be treated. If you spent, say, $80,000 on your education, it might be worth a few more thousand to be able to actually use your education in your industry.
Second, make every effort in the world never to go into an interview with a stranger. Network like hell, persuade people to be your mentors, go to every industry event, get yourself on a committee in one of those industry groups, write articles for websites and publications in your field. Make sure the first impression happens way, way before the interview.
That’s good advice in general, not just for people who have trouble in interviews.
Third, just tell the interviewer about your problem, in a conversational, isn’t-that-funny kind of way. Naming a thing defuses it.
Practice saying something like this so it sounds natural:
“It is such a pleasure to be here. Just FYI, I get REALLY nervous in interviews, even though I feel confident about myself as a candidate for this position. It’s only interviews, too! Presentations and actual job situations — I never get nervous. Anyway, I just wanted to get that out of the way.”
Do this right and the interviewer may very well sympathize and try to make you not-nervous, which is the opposite of her inadvertently making you nervous, which is what happens when you just go with the flow (I rarely advocate going with the flow).
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