You’ve just been invited to an interview for the role of your dreams — hooray! Before you know it, though, the jitters start to kick in and you’re a nervous wreck. Going for an interview can be terrifying, indeed, especially if you’re lacking confidence and feeling unsure of yourself.
So, eager to know how to feel more self-assured in a job interview? Determined to wash away all the fears and anxiety before the big day? Worry no more, because we’ve listed 15 useful tips to help you boost your confidence, make a great impression and, hopefully, land a job you’re passionate about.
Confidence in a job interview is carrying the feeling of being capable to make a good impression and successfully fill the role you’ve applied for. It means having faith in the quality of your work and your ability, knowing both your greatest strengths and the areas you could be improving on.
If you can enter the room and greet your interviewers with that sense of empowerment and self-awareness (because confidence does mean knowing your weaknesses, too, and striving to learn from mistakes), they’ll be able to pick up on it. And that will encourage them to invest in you!
Depending on the job you’ve applied for and the company that’s hiring, the interviewer might speak with a dozen candidates besides you. Therefore, it’s imperative that you stand out; and showing confidence in your interview is a great way to do that.
Think about it: if you yourself don’t seem to believe that you could take on the role that’s up for grabs and do a good job of it, then how can someone else get that impression? That’s not to say you should turn up and act like you just know everything, but rather express an eagerness to learn what you don’t know as well as keep on evolving and growing your current skills.
You might be wondering what “ingredients” confidence is made of. Let’s talk about 15 ways you can demonstrate (and really feel) it!
1. Be kind to yourself
Confidence comes from within. If you’re beating yourself up over “how incapable you are” or how much you “don’t stand a chance” in getting the job, your self-confidence will naturally be on a low during the interview.
Speak to yourself kindly, and remind yourself how much you’re worth it and why you deserve the role. Self-confidence starts by eliminating self-doubt, removing negative self-talk and replacing it with positive affirmations.
One more thing you could try is “power posing”, as described by social psychologist Amy Cuddy in a TED Talk. It involves standing in a posture of confidence, even when you don’t feel confident, as this can make you feel more self-assured and also influence how others see you.
2. Imagine success
One way of gaining confidence in the interview is to visualize success beforehand. You can calm interview nerves by having a positive outlook and imagining a scenario where things run perfectly.
Jay Scott, the HR lead at Pugsquest, advises candidates to “picture themselves working in that hiring company”. They need to “get out of their head and thoughts of the interview process for a moment and instead imagine how it would be like actually to have the job”.
“This visualizing should help them get more morale and drive to give their best in the interview in order to get the job,” Scott adds. “This morale boost automatically raises confidence levels.”
3. Practice calmness
If you lack confidence during an interview, it probably boils down to anxiety. Being stressed and anxious on the big day is certainly understandable; however, there are ways to keep calm and in turn increase your confidence.
Practice calmness by exercising, meditating or listening to uplifting music before the interview, as this will not only calm you but also help you feel more positive and motivated.
You can also try breathing techniques prior to the interview. Breathing exercises, according to Healthline, aim to control the fight-or-flight response and influence “our body’s ability to relax and calm down”.
By practicing calmness, you can walk into the interview cool, composed and ready to conquer.
4. Focus on the present
When you feel anxious, it’s usually because you’re focusing on what might go wrong in a particular situation. Feeling this way during an interview can easily stump your confidence, so try to switch your focus around by concentrating on the present moment.
Stop thinking about “failing the interview” or “sounding stupid”. Instead, relax, ignore any negative thoughts and listen to the interviewer actively (don’t get lost in your own train of thought).
Some tricks to help focus on the present moment include practicing your breathing and paying attention to your bodily sensations. Concentrate on where you are and what you’re trying to accomplish, and your nervousness will hopefully dissipate.
5. Be prepared
Interview preparation is key for boosting confidence, as it gives you a sense of control. You’re less likely to be lost for words, fidgety or jittery when you’re well versed for your interview.
Have your portfolio ready, learn your résumé inside and out, and prepare answers to any common questions that may arise. This way, you’ll feel confident that you know your stuff and are ready to tackle anything in the interview.
A great tip to increase confidence for your interview is to rehearse it beforehand with a friend or even in the mirror. This can help you feel ready to take on the real thing.
6. Dress confidently
Writing for HuffPost, Women’s Wellness Weekends founder Jill L Ferguson says that “your style and the clothes you choose reflect and affect your mood, health and overall confidence”.
When you’re attending an interview, choose an outfit that oozes confidence. Make sure it’s comfortable (not awkward or out of your comfort zone), stylish and professionally suited for the role.
Not only will your attire impress the hiring panel, but when you’re confident in what you’re wearing, you can easily transmit this aura of self-assurance in your overall attitude during the interview.
7. Connect with the interviewer
When you’re not feeling your best, it’s easy to come off as shy, closed off or miserable to hiring managers. To avoid this, aim to connect with the interviewers and appear friendly and approachable.
Maintain eye contact, give a comfortably firm handshake and communicate effectively. Connect with the interviewer by being active in the interview; maintain open body language, ask questions, and show interest about the position and company.
8. Communicate effectively
When you lack confidence, it shows in your communication; you might sound shaky, speak fast or jumble up your words. But once you’ve mastered your positive thinking and breathing, you will be able to communicate effectively to hiring managers. Speak passionately and professionally, communicate slowly, and try to stay relaxed.
“The best way to appear confident and compose yourself at the same time is to take 2–3 seconds after every question,” says Condon. “Nervous people always rush their answers, and this is obvious to the interviewer, as well as the double whammy of your response being below par as you probably haven’t thought it through properly.”
9. Accept mishaps
There is no such thing as the “perfect interview”. Even the best probably stumble a few times. You can decrease your anxiety and maintain your confidence by accepting that there may be a few mishaps — and that’s totally okay. If you mix up your words, pause, take a deep breath and carry on.
If you don’t have an answer for a particular question, Cindy Deuser, the HR manager at Thrive Agency says: “Don’t be afraid not to know something. Nobody knows everything. You have to have some skill or potential that applies to the job you’re after, of course, but don’t be afraid to say these magic words: ‘I’m afraid I don’t know that yet.’ When you don’t know something, be confident about it. ‘That’s sounds interesting, I’d love to learn all about it.’”
10. Be yourself
Managers like to interview someone who has character, so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine. The hiring panel isn’t going to like someone who is fake or forcing the discussion — and you aren’t going to be 100% comfortable or confident if you’re not being yourself.
“Be yourself during your interviews,” says Deuser. “It is important to own your space and project your personality… If something is funny, laugh. You’re not being miserably grilled; you’re having a conversation to see if both of you are comfortable with each other.”
Have a friendly discussion, make small talk, and smile. This a sure way to impress the hiring manager and, hopefully, land the job of your dreams.
11. Arrive early
Picture this… It’s the day of your interview and one of the following occurs: you underestimate the commute and leave the house late, or the bus you get on breaks down, or you arrive in an area you’ve never been to before and have no idea where to park or where the company you’re interviewing at is located. You’re bound to panic, right?
But, if you do leave the house early or even visit this new neighborhood once before your interview, then you can even practice deep breathing, stretch or walk off some of the nerves prior to meeting the hiring manager. This is bound to help you preserve your confidence.
12. Research the company
Since you got invited to an interview, chances are you’ve read and understood the job requirements and probably tailored your résumé to them. But what about your prospective employer more generally; what do you know about them?
“What do you know about us?” is, in fact, a very common interview question. One you should know the answer to, even if you don’t explicitly get asked! The reason is because the more you understand the company culture and mission, the more you’ll (hopefully) feel that you’re a great fit for the team. And that’s precisely what your potential employer will want to see.
So, check out their website and social media accounts right away!
13. Reread the job listing
The interviewing process is designed to assess candidates’ skills and experiences to see if they’d make a good fit upon joining the company. That’s why you’ll want to tie your answers back to what your prospective employer is expecting of you.
In order to do that, you’ll need to have memorized (at least the gist of) what’s been outlined on the job listing: desirable work experience, preferred degrees or qualifications, and must-have hard skills. By having that in mind, you’ll be able to construct answers that tick the interviewer’s boxes with confidence.
14. Practice the STAR method
When you read through common job interview questions online, such as “Describe a difficult situation you faced at work”, you might want to try answering a few of them in writing. (This can help you remember your answers better — plus, you can peek at them again just before your interview!).
When you go to do that, try using the STAR format for your responses. S to describe the situation you were in, T for the task you had to carry out, A for the action you took, and R for the result you achieved with your quick-wittedness and talent. This can help you convey confidence!
15. Remember to pause
If a confident person you admire was asked a difficult question, what do you think they would do? Take a moment to compose their thoughts before responding, or quickly blurt out the first thing that comes to them? The first, right?
Let’s say you get asked about your ideal work environment, long-term career goals or salary expectations during the interview, and a clear answer does not come to mind straight away. It’s okay to ask for a minute if you need it — or to say “Can we get back to this question later, please?”.
Not only can it save you from saying something you’ll regret later, it can also show you’re confident enough to ask for what you need when you need it.
Regardless what career path you’re on, attending a job interview is no walk in the park — we know. But there are many ways to regain your sense of confidence and make a good first impression.
After all, the hiring company asked you to be there; that means they liked what they saw on your résumé and thought you were worthy of being given a chance. Just remember that when you next feel insecure over a job interview!
Want a few quick tips? Watch the video below:
How do you boost your confidence as you move through the different stages in the hiring process? Got any tips and tricks you’d like to share? Join the conversation below and let us know!
Originally published on November 1, 2020. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.