Performance anxiety

There is no point being nervous about talking to Very Important People. You are who you are. Worrying about it won’t make you smarter or more charming; it will just make you nervous. This is the wisdom that completely failed to comfort me before my phone interview with another executive today.

In no particular order, here are some pre-interview fears: I will stumble over my words. I will ask really prosaic follow-up questions. I won’t type my notes fast enough and will have no idea what she said afterward. In restating her responses, I will inadvertently make her sound like an idiot. I will sound like an idiot. It will be clear that I am not very interested in this topic. My kids will burst into my home office and make me look unprofessional. While
gently ushering them out of the room, I will sound like Mommie Dearest. I will think of seven questions I should have asked as soon as I hang up. The two people who hired me will be on the phone, listening in, and they will think I suck. Nothing like an audience to calm your nerves, eh?

Despite my thorough preparation and previous interviewing experience, it was awful. Not the interview, of course. The interview went fine. I got what I needed for the piece and the exec couldn’t have been nicer. The awful part was the pre-game anxiety.

The sad thing is that if I look back over my freelance career, 99 percent of my work has been well-received. So why do I torture myself with this stomach-churning performance anxiety? It is terrible and SUCH a waste of time. How do I get rid of it???

I guess the important thing is that I did the interview despite the fear.

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