Battle of the Fears: Interviewing vs. Public Speaking

Vicki Wright Hamilton sitting in chair holding cash smiling
Interviewing can be a brutal combination of fears for many people. First, there is the scrutiny associated with interviewing that tends to put even the most confident people on edge.  Secondly, the unknown factor of it all, can easily take a person into full blown panic mode. According to a recent study by Harris Interactive and Everest College, 92% of U.S. adults are anxious about job interviews, with general anxiety being the most common fear at 17% (Anxiety.Org). While public speaking is listed as the number one phobia, 3 out of 4 people have a deep-seated fear of speaking in public.Well, I have a few secrets that I would like to share with you to help. I know, it feels like nothing can help and it is just way too hard! Have you ever considered telling a story when you are interviewing? I know you are probably thinking ok Vicki, that’s weird what do you mean by that?  Think about it, who knows you better than yourself? What other person has accomplished the things that you have done? Can anyone else relate the passion that you have for your current role to your desires of wanting the next opportunity? You are the answer to all of these questions! No one else can tell your story better than you. I challenge you to stand in the mirror and talk about yourself to yourself. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but it helps.Interviewing Try this…
  • Thoroughly review the details associated with the position you are interviewing for. Look at the responsibilities for the role
  • Take each job responsibility and talk to yourself about how you have done that before or have knowledge about it. Add examples of results that you have achieved.
  • Look at each requirement listed. Really take the time to relate your experience to what is being asked and the length of time that you did it, as you want to show the breadth and depth of your experience. Keep telling that story to yourself. By the time you go into an interview, what are you really doing? You are just telling your story. Talking about yourself and sharing it with someone else. As I mentioned, no one knows you better than you.
Ok, so we have a solution to the interviewing fear, what about public speaking. I will be the first to admit that public speaking can be a bit more difficult. It is usually in front of a larger group and you do feel like “all eyes are on you”, but you can overcome this fear with a little practice as wellPublic Speaking Try this…
  • First, remember, you know your subject matter. If you are being asked to talk in front of others, it is because you have something to offer and considered to be very knowledgeable about the subject matter.
  • You can structure your content to flow like you are telling a story here as well. Talk about the story to others in groups of 2-3 to begin the process. You can then practice in front of larger groups. I understand that even though you know the information, it is so scary when you actually get on the stage. It is normal to be a bit nervous.
  • Find a person in each area of the audience – left, right and center to focus on. This makes it look like you are looking around the crowd when you turn your head from side to side and look up. . Focus on the top of individual’s heads or something on the table that makes you comfortable.
  • I know you’ve heard this one before and it may seem silly, but it works. Imagine everyone in the audience is wearing their underwear. Yes, I said underwear. I know you are probably saying, “why would I do that”. Well, anything that can make you smile or laugh will reduce the anxiety and stress when speaking. As you can see, whether you are interviewing or doing public speaking, it is really about telling a story. Tell your story and let others gain from your knowledge and experiences. I hope that this information is of value to you and helps on your journey. If you are seeking a career mentor or have questions that you would like me to address, please do not hesitate to contact me at

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