How to Convey Confidence in the Job Interview
Maybe you’re applying for a job that you desperately want, or you’re a little unsure of your past experiences. Perhaps you haven’t interviewed much in the past, or it could be that you’re just not a very confident person in general. Whatever you’re dealing with, want to leave that emotional baggage outside of the interview room and walk in appearing as confident, relaxed, prepared, and natural as possible.
It may be a bit cliche, but it’s true… if you don’t come across as confident in yourself and your abilities to do your job, how do you expect an employer to likewise feel confident making a long-term investment in you as a new employee?
For your next job interview, try to keep these most important techniques in mind for appearing more confident, even if you’re falling apart on the inside:
1. Embrace the silence: Being able to use silence or pauses in the conversation is a power move, so taking a moment or two before you answer or ask questions actually makes you look more confident. It also gives the sense that you’re really thinking of the best, most intelligent way to respond, rather than just rattling off your first thoughts, which may convey a sense of insecurity or that you have something to prove. Employers like to see that you are deliberate and measured in your thinking, and pausing before you speak indicates this highly-valued trait.
2. What is your body language saying? This is perhaps the most important method for appearing confident, even if you’re silently freaking out. If you make an effort to appear physically relaxed and open, you’ll not only appear more confident and professional but also your thoughts and emotions will gradually calm down too. So make sure you have good posture and eye contact, don’t fidget, smile, and avoid crossing your arms or making yourself “small” by hunkering over in your chair.
3. Speak slowly: Talking too much or too fast without coming up for air in the job interview doesn’t make you appear knowledgeable, just nervous and perhaps even a little unsure of yourself. Be conscious of how quickly you’re speaking and try to slow it down so that you appear as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
4. Don’t be negative: “I know this is probably stupid but…” “This may not make sense but…” or “I know this might sound strange but…” If you have a habit of constantly qualifying your thoughts and opinions or even apologizing for them, take great care not to bring this confidence-killing communication style into the job interview.
5. Remember, you’re the interviewer too: Don’t forget that, although you’re the one being interviewed for the job, you’re also interviewing the company or organization to see if it’s a right fit for you. No matter how badly you think you want the position, you still need to do your due diligence in the interview by asking questions to find out if this employer is a match for you and if the position is a good career move. Remind yourself that you have some leverage and power, too, and you’ll naturally come across as more confident.
6. Being nervous is ok: Being a little nervous at a job interview is normal and can actually sharpen your focus and help you to make a good impression. After all, if you didn’t care at all about the interview, you probably shouldn’t be applying for the job in the first place, right? Acknowledge your feelings of anxiety or nervousness and try your best to embrace these feelings (not run away from them) and let them work in your favor.
7. Lower your voice: While you don’t want to affect a deeper tone of voice that sounds ridiculous, you should temper your inclination to speak in a higher register when nervous. Most people do it, so the key here is to act and speak as naturally as possible, which will give you an air of being relaxed, comfortable, and confident.
Also try to avoid phrasing statements as if they were questions, raising your voice slightly at the end of each sentence. This is also a common habit nervous people fall back on, but it gives the impression that you’re doubting yourself or undercutting your own thoughts.
8. Limit your “Ums,” “Likes” and “Wells”: These linguistic fillers (“um,” “uh,” or “er,” for example) or “markers” (like “you know” or “so”) are a natural part of our speech patterns, but just like in any kind of public speaking exercise, they can be distracting and counter-productive in the job interview. Using these phrases or words every once and a while is normal and to be expected, but over-using them indicates that you’re nervous or unsure of yourself.