How to overcome fear of interviews as a freelancer

Freelancers are ‘free’ because they take risks - they don’t like being told what to do. That’s both exciting and daunting because you have to police you.
— Chris Hardwick

One in five people has an anxiety disorder, according to Mental Health America. I have an idea of what they have to go through; one of my close family members suffers from such unpleasant and debilitating symptoms almost daily. 

For a person with anxiety, a phone call with a stranger takes so much energy and interrupts their entire day. I may not have issues when I talk with a potential client. I can talk effortlessly. But I know that others struggle with their fears and I hope I can help.

I see it a lot with new VAs and freelancers. Some VAs prefer only email, texts, or social media contact. They refuse any face to face meetings altogether.

Each time I ask them if they want to meet over Skype, 90% say no! They make excuses such as:

  • “I have a bad hair day…”
  • “I don't feel good”
  • “No text is just fine!”

I get it! When you are starting out, finding a client can be hard. Finding the Right customer who meets your criteria and matches your style can be even more challenging.

If you had a video call tomorrow with a potential client, how would you feel? Would your breathing become fast and shallow? Would your palms sweat? Would your face and hands tingle? You may even feel nauseous or your chest would hurt. And you would have racing thoughts. “They… will... interview... me. What if…? What if they don't like me? What if I don’t know what to say?”

These thoughts keep spiraling until you begin to doubt your decision to even become a freelancer. Maybe this freelancer thing was a bad idea? Whose crazy idea was it to work for yourself if a simple telephone call can be your worst nightmare?

Some of the new VAs I have heard from describe this anxiety as a strong desire to hide under the bed or they even fake a migraine to avoid the situation. 

This breaks my heart! After all, you can’t get clients and make money if you never talk to any potential clients! I have good news for you if this is something you face. After working with so many VAs and freelancers, I have uncovered some tips from them to help you overcome your anxiety. 

  1. Breathe and allow your brain to experience the rush of emotions. It is normal and you are going to be ok! Resisting the emotions will only make matters worse. It takes between 6 and 9 seconds for our neurochemicals to get absorbed by the way! The translation: those molecules will almost disappear back into our body after we start feeling our emotions! When we just allow ourselves to experience and name them: “I am feeling fear”, or “I am feeling something negative and threatening…” Start taking deep breaths, holding each one for several seconds. That will help slow your breathing and heart rate. It will also help you calm down.
  2. Fear sends you into protection mode. Let’s talk about that. A simple question to ask yourself is what is the worst case scenario? They will not choose you for their project. So what? There are thousands and thousands of potential clients who are looking for you! If it is your first time talking with a potential client, know that it will get better and easier. I promise! If you need additional help, be sure and check out my exclusive program for VAs and Freelancers.
  3. Have a different perspective! "Your potential client is looking for you! He or she needs your services. And they might be scared too!”

    Some of your potential clients are nervous too! Scared to hire a wrong person or someone not qualified and afraid to delegate because they are control freaks. Guess what? They are just like you and me! Human!

    They don’t want to lose money. But they are also willing to invest in you and your growth. At least the right client will!

  4. If they are not responding to your messages, it is ok to bug them in a right way! Do a follow-up. Trust me, they will like it! Because they're busy with thousands of their own projects and can't survive without you and your services. Please be their superhero, their rock. They are desperate!
  5. Shine! What if they end up loving you? When the prospective client asks for a phone call, he or she wants to get to know you! They already saw something valuable in you. Their insight made them want to find out more about your services and why you reached out to them.

    "You don't have to sell anything other than your personality. You are unique."

  6. Don't prove anything. Just listen and take notes!

    Talk less and listen more. You don't have to sell anything or prove anything. Listen. They are not your enemy - they are on your side. They want to see if you are going to bring value to them and their biz! They want to know more about you and your services. So, you don’t have to fake anything. Quite the opposite, just tell them about your top strengths in a few sentences with an example. 

  7. Be prepared. Practice. Memorize some potential answers to set questions, such as how much you charge and how you feel about the deadlines? Be ready to sound confident. Remember you always can say “I will get back to you on that!” And then send them a proposal with Option A and Option B with their respective prices. Be sure to include an expiration date on it - a special offer or special - to show you are valuable and a professional. 

Bonus: Prepare some samples, great references, the contract, the quote, and ask for 50% up front. Also prepare some questions for them too (My fave is what are your 2 pet peeves working with Freelancers?)
Are You Ready to Get on a Phone Call or Skype Video with a Potential Client?

I promise you can overcome your anxiety and build a successful freelance business. You can become a highly-paid expert and start developing your own Personal Brand. It's worth it. It is worth your freedom!

As you take each baby step and talk with each client, this client-getting game will become easier and more rewarding. Let me know in the comments! 

What tips do you have for new freelancers?


Olga SzakalFear