A job interview can be especially difficult if you're shy or exceptionally nervous. Fortunately, you can employ some techniques to master shyness and curb nervousness — and to buy some time if your mind goes blank.
Take a few deep, calming breaths and then consider the following tips.
Show and tell with striking visuals. Prepare and bring along a highly selective sample of your accomplishments. These could be praise letters from former bosses and clients, achievement awards, charts of goals reached — any attractive document that underlines your qualifications for the job you seek. Your visuals can do your talking for you when you're stumped for an answer and need recovery time.
Speak up with a success sheet. Create a one-page accomplishments document with a short description of up to 10 of your professional achievements. When a difficult question erases your memory banks, you can say, "I am very interested in this job and a bit nervous. I'm drawing a blank. But I may have something related to your question here on my accomplishments page. . . Ah, here it is . . ." Glancing over your success sheet may uncork your brain.
Play for time. Rehearse in advance a phrase or two that will give you time to collect your wits. "What a good question! Is it okay if I take a minute to give you a responsible answer?" And then write the question in your notebook.
Get an interview coach. Look around for a strong career coach, especially one with a specialty in interview prep. Alternatively, find a business friend with a camcorder (or webcam) who will rehearse with you until you're no longer scared of the interview monster.
Load up on questions. Shy people often freeze up toward the end of the interview, when the interviewer asks, "Do you have questions?" Asking smart questions conveys your interest in the job and in the employer. Pull out your notebook, if you need prompts, and ask, "What do you expect the person you hire to accomplish in the first six months?" "What training would I receive?" "Why is this position open — what happened to the person who formerly held it?"