Some people regard public speaking as something nearly as scary as Ebola. But by following these simple oration techniques, job seekers can calm their nerves and sail through their next interview.

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It doesn’t have to be Halloween week to know that there’s a lot of scary stuff out there these days. We have the Ebola virus, school shootingsthe rise of ISIS abroad — even face-to-face interviews.

Yes, you read that last part correctly. A recent study by California’s Chapman University asked 1,500 Americans what scares them the most. Public speaking was their fifth-greatest fear, behind mass shootings, web safety, identity theft and walking alone at night.

It may seem irrational, but the anxiety over public speaking is real, and it can hurt your chances of landing a job if you let it get out of control. Fortunately, there are some simple techniques you can practice to chase away the public-speaking bogeyman and help you to sail through your next interview.

Prepare your answers. What are your greatest accomplishments? Why do you want to work there? How did you resolve disputes in your previous positions? Even a few no-win questions (such as “What is your biggest weakness?” which I covered in this post) will most likely be asked each time. So make sure you have a couple of anecdotes ready for each question to eliminate panicked responses.

Breathe deeply. Not only does it relax you before the interview, it also helps you control your pace. Nervous speakers tend to rush their words and eliminate natural pauses, which can cause shortness of breath mid-sentence. Take a few beats before answering, and don’t be afraid to take your time.

Practice with real people. Don’t just form the words in your head or speak to your bathroom mirror. Ask a friend to stand in as an interviewer and see how your words are interpreted by another human being. Better yet, join a club such as Toastmasters to mingle with like-minded people, build your confidence in public speaking and expand your network.

Realize that they want you to succeed. This may be the most important tip. If you feel uncomfortable, so will your interviewer. Hiring managers want to find a good candidate, and they genuinely want to see you hit one out of the park. So never go into an interview thinking they are out to get you.

Oh, and regarding the old chestnut about picturing the hiring manager naked? Nine times out of 10, that will only make things worse. Trust me.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at