You may not notice, but job interviews and public speaking are similar in some aspects. Both job interviews and other types of interviews (a TV interview, too) are a kind of self-presentation situations. Practically, the same is true for the public speech or a lecture. The speakers or candidates “presents” themselves, they are the ones who speak most of the time and influence the audience. Obviously, there can be differences observed between these two types of events. It is worth comparing both situations and finding out when the excitement and stress level is the strongest in each case.
What are the similar patterns between public speaking and job interviews?
- Other people listen to the speaker (or the lecturer, or the applicant in case of an interview);
- The audience -even unintentionally- formulate an opinion about the speaker and may come up with an assessment;
- Poor performance of the speaker (or applicant) can lead to consequences. For instance, the audience gets tired of the lecture and leave; in case of a job interview, the applicant does not receive the job opportunity;
- Success depends primarily on the speaker, not on the audience.
Let’s have a look at the differences between public speaking and job interviews:
- In the case of public speaking, it is the speaker who holds the key role. The audience does not speak at all, and this is mostly limited to raising questions. When it comes to interviews, communication between the parties is much more dynamic;
- As a result, compared to a lecture, a job interview is always a much more interactive situation. All parties have the opportunity to ask questions;
- In a job interview, both parties evaluate and assess each other as they need to decide on future mutual work;
- The success of a public speech is that the speaker delivers the presentation engagedly without error. This is not a requirement on a job interview, since failure here means not receiving the job offer based on lack of abilities.
Stress and anxiety can appear in both situations, furthermore, they may lead to unwanted consequences, such as inappropriate body language or inadequate communication. These signs are obvious to the audience and are easily recognizable. The signs can include if:
- the speaker does not keep eye contact,
- the presenter speaks in a jumbled way and tends not to finish his or her sentences,
- people cannot follow or understand the message,
- the speaker apparently loses contact with the audience.
The other party or the audience quickly recognizes the speaker’s state of anxiety by observing signs of the body language. Unfortunately, this often results in losing credibility. These signs of body language include touching the eyelid, licking the mouth, frequent cracking, or excessive head scratching. Therefore, it is very important to be aware of these negative signs and to overcome them as much as possible when preparing for a public speech or for a job interview.
At what stage do signs of stress appear? When is the level of excitement highest?
This question is important because if you are aware when anxiety is expected and when it reaches its peak, you can prepare for it and work to reduce the symptoms.
There have been several previous studies published about the time of stress occurrence. It has been found that the excitement level of a public speech or lecture reaches its peak before the speech begins (for example, when the performer prepares him- or herself behind the scenes). However, as soon as he or she begins the lecture, the stress starts to decrease and gradually decrease to the end. In case of a job interview, the highest anxiety level does not appear right before the start, but when the interview has already begun, that means, at a slightly later moment than in case of a lecture.
Another difference is that during the interview the tension level does not decrease as linearly as it does in public speaking, but it stays more or less at the same level. The reason for this is that a lecture or speech is much more predictable for the speaker compared to the interview, since the duration and the audience can be identified beforehand, and the best communication style what needs to be used.
There are way more unexpected parts in an interview, and you may not know the circumstances in advance. This situation can be formulated to be more predictable if the applicant tries to gather as much
information as possible about what to expect, who will be present, what the length will be, or what kind of interview they can expect, etc.
In conclusion, there are some similar patterns between public speaking and job interviews, however we may detect some differences. The best advice for both situations is that being well prepared, knowing what to present, and being aware of what to expect will definitely help you be capable to know the expected moment of rising of stress, thus you will have a better chance of reducing your anxiety. Therefore, you can make sure you do your best to be as successful as possible.
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