Why I'm so petrified of interviews – and what I'm doing to overcome it

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A wave of terror washes over me. I know I'm going to be put on the spot. There are cameras, lights, microphones, and strangers everywhere. Any rehearsed messages I have prepared often disappear and my mind goes blank.

This is how I feel when being interviewed. Overwhelmingly daunting, and panic attack worthy. Having a camera lens in my face just isn’t natural or in any way comfortable. I much prefer interacting with another human being. That’s why I’ve always found filmed or recorded interviews so hard. 

But why do I find it so difficult? One of the biggest obstacles I have had to overcome with being on TV was getting over the way I looked on screen. As with anything you try for the first time, you are self-critical about how you appear and focus on the physical things that aren’t working in your favour – the little twitch, fiddling, blinking too much etc. Most other people don’t even notice these deficiencies we see in ourselves. They are most often engaged and receptive to hearing the information and knowledge we have to offer.

Here are the top three ways I’m overcoming my fear of interviews – and the ways you can too:

  1. Taking selfie videos to explain an idea in the privacy of my own home where no one else could see me. This was one of the earliest tricks I used – and still use. Until I get familiar with the experience, I am able to play it back, see how I am perceived, and rerecord as many times as I need to. If I don’t believe the person on camera, why would anyone else? It prompts me to get really clear on what I want to say, and be succinct and to the point. I will rehearse this way enough times until I feel comfortable to be able to share the idea with others.  

  2. Having another person sitting in front of me asking a few questions that I can create a story around. It feels natural to portray a message to another physical human being and therefore I relax and can remember the key things I want to say. Give a friend or family member a list of questions to ask you and have them throw in some unexpected ones as well to get used to answering questions on the spot. This is a method that I am constantly developing to become more at ease to then progress to the next stage.

  3. Having three key messages you want to get across in the time you are interviewed. This is absolutely crucial. As long as you keep your key messages at the forefront of your mind and have the opportunity to mention them while on air, you have achieved the goal you have set out to do. Being able to prepare for any kind of interview has its perks and drawbacks. On the one hand, you can prepare some answers to some questions so you don’t feel as much pressure and aren’t distracted by other topics or lines of enquiry, but on the other, it can come across as rehearsed and therefore not natural. Having a general brief is good with a list of three short key messages you want to mention has proven to be the best method for me.

I am still very much a work in progress. I’m only really just beginning but, as I keep reminding other people, getting started is the hardest part. Whether you get to 100%, 50%, or even 25% of the goal in the timeframe you set yourself, you are far better off than someone who is still sitting at 0%.

Keen to work on overcoming your own fears? I’d love to help – just get in touch.