One of the many dictionary references describes confidence as:
con·fi·dence - a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities. "she's brimming with confidence"
Confidence is intrinsic, meaning that this is something that is inside of each of us. For some confidence is always there, but for others, there is a constant need to remind ourselves of what we are good at. If the latter is you, continue reading.
Have you ever been in a situation where suddenly, your heart is pounding, maybe your body is shaking, or your mouth becomes so dry it’s like you have been on a deserted island without water for days! Well, I have, and it is awful!
I remember speaking to a group of young people who were interested in a career in aviation. I had been sitting in the audience listening to the other speakers for most of the morning and then it was my turn. I had prepared. I knew my materials. I wore clothing that was comfortable. I was well nourished and hydrated. I had done all the things I do to ensure I feel confident when I speak to groups. I thought to myself, “ok, you are good to go”…not so much.
In a flash without any prior notice, my nerves got the best of me. I got up to the podium and realized that I had to hold the microphone as there was no lapel mic. That microphone felt like I was carrying a 20-pound weight in my hand!
The organizers had technical difficulties which meant I did not have control over the movement of my slides. I had to look behind me to see which slide I was speaking to and ask for a slide change when I was ready. I didn’t like having my back to the audience. I also had the worst bout of dry mouth I have ever experienced in my life. Good thing I had water with me, right? Unfortunately, due to my shaking hands, I had difficulty opening my water bottle. To add to the situation, the podium was glass and my bottle was metal, so it sounded very loud every time I placed my bottle on the podium.
I felt like I had lost total control over my nerves. I felt like I failed that audience.
Looking back on that situation now, I don’t know that it was as bad a I thought. The young people in the room didn’t know what I was going to say. They had never met me before, so they had no preconceived idea of who I was. Maybe to them I was just another speaker? Maybe to them I did a Rockstar job? I will never know and there is not point beating myself over it either. It is done. It is in the past and even as I write this, I have moved on.
I wanted to tell you about my experience to illustrate that nervousness is normal whether it is standing on stage or sitting in front of an interview panel. Recruiters and hiring managers know that candidates are under pressure to perform and some are more comfortable with that than others. I will tell you this, confidence always wins! Employers want to hire skillful, confident employees. They want the best and confidence will put you ahead of others. Here is my advice.
Know your strengths. Make a list. Keep it handy. Study it. Be proud of your accomplishments.
If you are sitting in front of an interview panel, they have asked you to be there for a reason. They have seen something on your resume or cover letter that is of interest. So, regardless of your shaking hands or dry mouth, you got this, you really do!
Michelle Precourt is a Career Coach, Recruitment Expert and Registered Yoga Teacher based in Ottawa, Canada. She has blended her 15 years of recruitment experience with her Hatha and Yin teacher training that provides for a diverse approach in her work. Learn more about Michelle and her work at https://michelleprecourt.com/