• One way to succeed in a job interview is to treat it like a pitch

  • Michael Parker, author of It's Not What You Say, It's The Way You Say It! shares some tips to help you succeed

  • If you are struggling with any kind of confidence issues, you can find a therapist here

The principles are the same for the interview and the pitch in that both call for you to perform under pressure. Your stage may be a platform, or a seat across a table, but the impact of your words on your audience comes mainly from your tone of voice and body language. The common error when faced with the spotlight is that we tend to focus on the content, the what we say, at the expense of delivery – the way we say it. This is the difference between the average interview and the excellent one.

1) Make the first 30 seconds count

You never get a second chance to make a first impression!

2) If they don't like you they won't buy you, so don't forget to smile

In any pitch, presentation or interview before an audience the way you come across matters, usually more than what you actually say.

3) Let your hunger, your eagerness, show

Decisions are often based on perception of which candidate is hungriest. No one wants to be accused of being a 'show off'. It has the negative association of boasting, being vulgar, and being egocentric. But when pitching or presenting we are performing, and any performance requires a certain level of 'show'. Showing off can be a positive thing. It can be about an enthusiasm to share, it can be about charisma and charm, and it can be about putting yourself out there. It is important to give oneself permission to show off.

4) Think of your interviewer as a friend, not the enemy

Engage in animated conversation, not a discourse. Chat away about something that interests both of you, listening and observing, In almost every case, an entirely natural, animated conversation style will be revealed. Easy body language, gesturing for effect and pausing for thought. You being yourself!

5) If you want to be heard, listen

Answer the question asked, not the one you've anticipated.

6) Fail to rehearse, prepare to fail

The more you rehearse the more you will gain in confidence and self-belief. The challenge in most pitches or interviews is to rise to the occasion and perform at your best when it really matters. The experienced will, or should, have worked on what approach for them is the best way to achieve this in term of preparation, mental and physical. The sixteenth century philosopher, an Italian, Baldassari Castiglione, described the ideal approach as having two necessary principles. The first, 'decoro', is the graft, practice, preparation and rehearsal, the essential foundations for any performance. The second is 'sprezzatura' a word he coined to embrace the lightening flash, the rehearsed spontaneity, almost a joy in improvisation that can bring magic.

7) It's not what you say, it's the way you say it!

When we watch a play we expect to be engaged in an emotional experience but sometimes forget that an interviewer or conference delegate 'audience' also expects a level of emotional engagement.

Michael Parker is the author of It’s Not What You Say, It’s The Way You Say It!: How to sell yourself when it really matters

Further reading

3 tips to get your first graduate job

Is it time to quit your job and do what you love?

How to keep on top when the pressure is on

Public speaking: how to make a good impression