A colleague of mine has been prepping for an interview and reached out to me to ask for strategies. One of the many steps I have students practice is recording their responses on their phones and playing it back to:
(a) learn about their favorite filler words (umm, like, basically, you know etc.) and practice to speak without them; and
(b) get used to hearing their own voice so that is not distracting them when they are speaking and they are focusing on their response (and not on another of those pesky internal negative scripts that get in the way of our effectiveness).
One day after I sent her these action items, she sent me this cartoon. (I don’t know who to credit. If you know the creator, please let me know and I will add that).
I. Laughed. Hard.
Am still laughing. It has been two days and I keep pulling up the cartoon and laughing. It is so, so, so on the mark.
What is it about hearing our own voice that freaks us out so much? The self-judgment. Most, most people are incredibly self-critical. “I sound horrible.” “OMG my voice is so this… so that… so…. so….”.
Most of us have Ph.D.s in self-criticism. (Those amongst us with Ph.D.s REALLY, truly have Ph.D.s in self-criticism. 🤣 Whatever else we may or may not agree on, this, I think, about 95% of us will agree with.)
Self-criticism is the bane of productivity. It is the best friend of perfectionism and the arch enemy of that beautiful phrase, “good enough.” We know this. And yet, being the self-destructive creatures that we are, we go on to practice it happily, every single day.
Being self-critical about how our voice sounds makes us stay stuck, not practice, not record, not self-assess (KINDLY), not get better, not claim our voice, and not kick butt at the interview.
So, what to do?
- Practice: Positive self-affirmation: my voice is beautiful. (It IS.)
- Practice: Record yourself answering standard interview questions (start with “Walk me through your resume” if you can’t think of anything else.
- Write down your self-critical thoughts.
- Erase (recording & notes).
- Do a happy dance.
- Practice: Record yourself. Play. Note your filler words. Write them down. Erase. Do a happy dance.
- Practice: Record yourself. Play. Note your diminishing use of filler words. Write yourself a “pat on the back” note. Erase. Do a happy dance.
- Practice: Record yourself. Play. Shift your focus on the quality of your RESPONSE from your voice. Note your delivery, cadence, hold over the knowledge of your field and your skills. Write down. Erase. Do a happy dance.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice.
- Practice: Positive self-affirmation: I rock. My voice rocks.
- Send recording to mentor/coach or practice answering questions with mentor/coach.
- Have a meltdown.
- Return to Step 1.
Action Call: What action will you take today to practice interview skills? Send me your thoughts in the comments. Would love to hear from you!
Lots and lots of love, — Maya