Prepare, yes; learn off, no
Q: I’ve a big interview coming up and really want to put my best foot forward. I’ve started practicing already but I’m beginning to fear that I will sound too rehearsed. How do I avoid that? (DV, email).
A: Avoid it by avoiding it: don’t be too rehearsed. Yes, practice, and practice lots, but avoid becoming an automaton. Here are some tips:
- Know what examples you wish to use to illustrate your suitability for the role but don’t learn off your lines. It’s not a play. Let the words come out as they will on the day: if you’ve thought your stories through, you should be able to tell the story well enough;
- Accept that you will make errors. You will say something the wrong way or use the wrong word. These things happen so don’t set perfect delivery as your standard;
- Listen closely to the questions, and answer them – that way you will actually be in the room, as opposed to being represented by a hologram of yourself;
- On the same theme, ask questions if you want to clarify something. Do not be afraid of generating a conversation – and when you’re fully alert and present in the room, you will be in a much better position to converse rather than just punching out ‘something I prepared before the show’ like an automaton.