Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I find interviews embarrassing. I have to sit and talk about myself as if I were interested, when I’m really more interested in finding out about the job. How can I keep from sounding too abrupt when I answer questions and from feeling self-conscious when I do?
A: Dear Edgy, Focus on making a connection with your interviewer. That means you both need to talk. Friendliness at the outset can be very helpful in diminishing nerves on either side of the interviewing desk. Guard against overdoing it, though, because you’ll sabotage (and contradict) yourself by not appearing to get down to business.
Most experts recommend speaking about 40 percent of the time to the interviewer’s 60 percent, but if you get a tongue-tied interviewer, you might have to lead. Think about being fluent in the English language so you can answer questions thoroughly. As soon as you think you’ve said enough, ask the interviewer a question.
If thoughts of fluency don’t solve the problem, think about dancing. One step from the other person followed by your step. Another step and your step. Another, another.
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’m looking for a sales job, because I love to persuade people, but I really don’t enjoy making cold calls. Is there any way for me to get around this problem?
A: Dear Shy, Not all sales jobs involve making cold calls. If you’re in a sufficiently large company, another person might be the lead-generator. Also, in-bound calls bring the luxury of knowing that the person on the other end wants to speak with someone.
If you can’t motivate yourself to pick up the telephone, you might not belong in every form of sales. However, if you’re highly motivated to sell something of value to you, get a friend to coax you through it or get some telephone sales training. Don’t forget about retail sales, where people come to you.
One of my self-motivating tricks is to clear my desk so I’m bored before I start on a new campaign. That creates a sense of desperation in me to find something to do that’s productive. Having launched a number of campaigns, I can say it works.