So there I was, on the market for a more challenging position. After months of teetering back and forth on whether to stick it out at my current place of employment, I had reached the point where I was ready to throw my hat back in to the ring.

I spent several more months revamping my online identity by way of my website, LinkedIn profile, and other social media. My resume was closely examined, taking great measures to ensure that the information in it was accurate and relevant to the positions that I was going after. My simple image/blurb based portfolio was transformed into a selective showcase of in depth case studies that outlined my thought-process throughout the development of the project. In my opinion, these were all integral components of any successful job search. My confidence soared as I completed each element of, what I called, my UX/UI Transition Kit, until I actually started to speak with technical recruiters and potential employers.

My Verbal Communication Sucked!!!!!

Calls started to rapidly come in as soon as I began promoting myself on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, which was entirely awesome, but after the first couple of calls I realized I had a huge problem. I found myself rambling when answering very simple questions and it became pretty embarrassing, so much so that I was almost tempted to avoid phone calls and conduct my search via email only. This obviously was not a feasible solution, so I began to unpack how I got to this point.

I’ve never been a fan of speaking in public, or speaking in general for that matter. I’m a textbook introvert. I have so many thoughts racing through my head at any given time. Ironically enough, I have no issue understanding my personal thoughts, emotions, and desires, but communicating them to people outside of my head always has proven to be problematic. I think that’s why I enjoy visual communication so much; messaging is conveyed via other means such as color, negative space and size, which really lightens the verbal load.

This is in part why I chose to allow my case studies to essentially speak for me when words failed. By being as in depth as possible with verifiable data to support, the reviewer could clearly see the reasoning behind certain design decisions, but how does that translate over the phone when they’re not looking at my portfolio? It doesn’t, so here are 3  things I did and am still doing to improve my verbal communication.

  1. Take notes during the call and refer back to them.
    Employers tend to ask similar questions during initial interviews to vet candidates. Record those questions and take some time to really think about the question and provide an appropriate, yet succinct reply. Get familiar with answering the question comfortably; you don’t want a canned or disingenuousresponse.
  2. Be Upfront and Honest about your situation.
    Let the interviewer know that you have some difficulty speaking through your work, but you’re working to improve upon it. I’ve found that interviewers are more patient than you think.
  3. Ask Your Own Questions.
    Turn the interview into a conversation. After all, that’s what it is. You’ll find more comfort when you’re feeling less like you’re being interrogated and more like you’re speaking with a colleague. This also gives you an opportunity to humanize the interviewer. I’m not suggesting that they aren’t human, by the way.

What Do You Do?

These are just a few things that have helped me. I hope they can help you as well if you’re having similar issues. I’m interested in hearing other solutions as well. What do you do to combat discomfort when speaking? Drop your comments below.

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