Asking questions is a critical part of any job interview. Yet despite the fact that asking questions is a relatively mundane activity in daily life, many of us find the prospect of posing questions during an interview stressful. Perhaps it makes you feel self-conscious, or maybe you’re worried you might look clueless to the interviewer.

Whatever the reason, people often feel petrified of asking questions during job interviews. However, we all know that not asking questions makes a candidate look disengaged and uninterested, which can lead the employer to decline to make an offer.

The fear of asking questions is often related to self-confidence. Many job seekers who are afraid to ask questions during job interviews are afraid to speak up in other situations as well. Employers know that people who lack confidence are not good leaders.

If, however, you work on your self-confidence, you can overcome your fear of asking questions and portray yourself as leadership material. Here are four steps to take to help build your self-confidence.

1. Meditate

Sometimes, you need to take a step back and understand that things are not as stressful as they seem. Meditation – or, as I like to call it, “focused relaxtion” – gives you the tools you need to calmly analyze stressful situations and handle them successfully.

Start meditating for five minutes a day. You can find plenty of online resources to help you get your practice off the ground.

2. Affirm Yourself

The more you think about what a strong person you are, the more you’ll believe that you truly are strong. This belief will become an unconscious driver of your behavior, and you’ll have an easier time allowing your confident personality to shine.

Try saying affirmations to yourself a few times a day. One good affirmation might be, “I feel comfortable asking questions because my thoughts are important, and my future is important.”

3. Seek Out Uncomfortable Situations

The more you experience uncomfortable situations, the easier it becomes to navigate such situations when they arise.

Try singing at the top of your lungs in the middle of a crowded street. Send an email to someone you admire without feeling silly. Soon, asking questions will make you feel less uncomfortable.

4. Practice Asking Questions

The more you practice asking questions, the easier it becomes. Try out a few questions on your friends and family members, perhaps in a mock-interview setting. After you’ve mastered your friends and family, try asking strangers for directions. Take a class on how to interview subjects for an article. Get as much real-world experience as you can.

Regardless of where you are in your your career, you can only progress by pursuing new things. And besides, if you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no.” Use these tools to kick start your journey to become a great asker of questions. After just a little practice, you’ll feel comfortable and confident asking smart, engaging questions that show off your qualifications and competencies during interviews.

Nader Mowlaee is an engineering career coach and recruiter who is motivated by building confidence in engineers.

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