Frequently overlooked, often gone missing, sometimes flat out non-existent, occasionally misunderstood, regularly doubted and rarely fully appreciated. Yet, it’s the secret to getting that coveted job or internship. So what is it and how can you get it? Simply stated, it’s confidence. Displaying confidence in yourself and your skill set in a job interview is critical to convincing the interviewer that you’d make a very good hire.
As a career coach who works primarily with college students and recent graduates, building my clients’ self confidence, especially confidence in job interviews, is often the most important work that we do together. Like many of the things that you need to do to get a job or internship, gaining confidence is an acquired skill for most people. It takes preparation and practice to be a confident interviewer. Talking about yourself, particularly the concept of “selling yourself”, can be awkward and uncomfortable, yet it is a critical part of any interview. Understanding how to tell your story in a way that conveys you authentically, highlights your skills, and is memorable requires reflection and lots of practice.
Fear of failure or being under-prepared for an interview can cause confidence to beat for the exit door as though a wildfire is lapping at your heels. Knowing what to expect in an interview also helps to diminish your nerves and build your confidence. That is why doing your research and preparation is so important.
It also is important to understand that there is a fine line between being confident in a job interview and being arrogant. Humility is considered a worthy trait whereas being a showoff has rarely won people popularity points. Confidence requires walking that fine line. You definitely do not want to be memorable for all the wrong reasons, like “Alex” was.
At the Fortune 500 company where I worked, every March, roughly two dozen candidates would participate in the international retail management trainee 3-day marathon interview. Part of the interview process was a series of back-to-back, two-on-two interviews: two candidates being questioned by two executives. Interviewing with two interviewers is tough enough but interviewing for a job whilst sitting next to your competition can be unnerving, to say the least.
I still remember Alex as clearly as the day I met him: brown, 3-piece suit (they weren’t in style), and so arrogant that even his interviewing partner was taken aback. When we asked Alex why we should hire “Sarah”, he launched into a response that she was nice enough but clearly not as qualified as he was. What Alex didn’t understand was that one of the key traits that we hired for was being a team player.
Needless to say, Alex failed the interview. Memorable, for all the wrong reasons.
To increase your confidence in job interviews, convert your worry and fear into productive action:
• Research the interviewer, the company and the industry.
• Reflect on the qualities and experience that you have.
• Prepare your questions for the interviewer.
• Practice your responses. Out loud. Seriously.
• Repeat as necessary.
If you do that, you’ll do just fine. I am confident of it.
Want more tips like these? Subscribe to our newsletter.