Updated September 13, 2017.
What if you had absolute confidence and poise walking into every job interview? In this article I’m going to show you how.
A few weeks ago while on Quora I came across a very interesting question. Someone wanted answers on how they could improve their confidence for an upcoming job interview they had.
I thought about giving an answer at the time, but decided not to. Reason is I hadn’t done a job interview in a while, and I hate giving advice from theory instead of my own experiences.
Recently I did a lot of job interviews.
From those interviews I got 3 second interviews from 3 jobs. I landed one job in July, and got offered another job by August with double the pay (which I’m currently working). This week (September) I was offered a third job which I’m still not 100% I’m going to take. Though it probably pays more I really like the people I’m working with now, and plus my current job offers a lot of flexibility (which is a big thing for me).
All this happened within the space of two months.
It’s pretty safe to say that the advice I’m about to give is pretty sound, since they have worked for me several times. I would recommend anyone who is either looking for a job, or know someone who is to read this, and pass it on.
How to Improve Your Confidence for A Job Interview
1. Dress Sharp As F…
Not many people really consider how well they should dress for an interview. I see this especially with men who wear a dress shirt, tie, and dress pants only.
Now if that’s all you have then that’s fine. However, if you have a jacket/blazer you should wear it. Don’t hold back when it comes to your interview. The saying “First impression lasts” probably holds the greatest truth in an interview.
Don’t just wear a blazer, wear your best blazer, don’t wear a regular shirt or skirt (for the ladies), wear your best of everything. Take out that gorgeous yet professional heels you have that make heads turn (you know the one I’m talking about ladies). Gentlemen ensure your shoes are well polished.
So how does this improve your confidence? When you look confident, you will feel confident, and that will put you in a confident state. This state then triggers confident behaviour.
If you see yourself as someone of confidence you project confidence and certainty in your interview.
The same is also true if you dress average. Not only will you be seen as average by your interviewer(s), but you will feel that way also. This makes it difficult for you to stand out.
2. Know Your Strengths and Play On Those
Another way to improve your confidence is to identify what your strengths are and play heavily on them.
By doing so it reinforces how good you are and worthy of the position you’re applying for.
Typically, it’s when we feel uncertain about ourselves and our capabilities that we begin to lose confidence.
Focusing on your strengths, and how those strengths can add value to the organization you are applying for will increase your feelings of confidence.
For example, I know my greatest strength is that I’m a thinker. I’m excellent at coming up with ideas and strategies. Also, I’m great (not just good) at reverse-engineering any result to know what steps to execute to see it successful.
Now those are my strengths. My execution could use a bit more improving though (which I’ve greatly improved on). Still, I don’t play on my execution even though I’ve improved over the past year. Why? Because it’s not my greatest strength.
I show each interviewer how my strength as a thinker can contribute to the long-term success of their company. I’m confident because I know that’s where I shine the best.
3. Competence Equals Confidence
The number one way to be more confident…have the skills and competency for the job you’re applying for.
What I mean by that is be very knowledgeable in the position you are applying for.
I have realized a direct link between being competent in something and having confidence in doing it.
When you know what you’re doing, it creates a sense of reassurance that “Hey! I got this!” This then plays out in your self-esteem, self-image, and confidence.
Even if there are moments when you start to doubt yourself, you can always think back to how much knowledge (and experience if possible) you have.
Then affirm to yourself that you know what you’re doing because you’ve done it before.
For me I stay in my lane. When others told me I should apply for jobs in IT, or I got offered sales positions I turned them down. I know I’m not as competent in those areas, and so my lack of confidence in myself is going to show in the interview.
Your best bet for improving your confidence before an interview is to apply for jobs that you are certain of your competence, knowledge and experience in.
If you’re lacking the experience, then take 6-12 months to develop your competence in the field you want to be in, while working another job to pay the bills.
4. Over-prepare and Go Above and Beyond
This is another one that has worked well for me.
There was one company in particular I applied for that I went all in with my preparation for. I read everything about the company, what they had done and was up to.
I even went as far as to put together several ideas that they could implement to help them achieve their business goals in a very creatively designed portfolio, based on what their current company focus was.
As if that wasn’t enough I also anticipated every single possible question they could have asked, and came up with answers beforehand for each.
Since I had over-prepared beyond even what I’m sure the interviewers were expecting I was confident long before I walked through the doors.
By the time I walked in and they started the interview it was like I had the cheat sheet in my back pocket. I was on point with every question, and literally had the answers to every single question they asked.
My confidence was through the roof!
Plus they appreciated the fact that I made the effort beyond necessary to create a few ideas for them.
It’s like taking a test. When you study and prepare for it and every possible question they could ask, you feel in absolute control. You know the answers, this is easy for you.
The more prepared you are, the more in control you feel, and the more confident you will be that you can ace the test.
This sense of control and assurance in your ability to answer every question creates confidence. In other words feeling in control of a situation creates confidence.
That’s what over-preparing does, it creates a feeling of control.
Anticipate every possible question and every possible outcome. Expect the unexpected then prepare for that also.
To help you better prepare here are a list of questions interviewers typically asked:
Why do you want to work for this company/Why are you applying?
What value can you add to this company if we hire you/What can you contribute to this company?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Would you consider yourself a team player?
It’s also a good idea to come up with 3-5 questions you can ask them (this is another question they’re going to ask “Do you have any questions?“).
This will show that you actually took the time and went above the average to prepare.
5. Visualize EXACTLY How You Want the Interview to Go
Building confidence is a combination of the external and internal game. Number 5 is the internal.
Take the time to imagine the interview. Visualize what you’ll be wearing, how sharp you’ll look. Visualize the interviewers asking you questions and you answering them with certainty and confidence.
Visualize every single step of every single interaction with the interviewers. You feeling comfortable and in complete control of the interview.
Remember this is your show, your moment. You’re the director, so you get to decide how it all plays out.
By going through this process you’re slowly building certainty that you will do well and have what it takes to have a successful interview. It allows you to now see and more importantly FEEL with certainty that the interview will play out in your favour.
This will help you to build up your confidence.
6. Affirm Your Confidence
Another approach that you can use to help you build on the internal game is affirming your confidence.
Repeat to yourself over and over: “I am someone who is completely confident in my abilities in this interview“. Do this continuously until you feel a sense of certainty and reassurance in yourself and your confidence.
By affirming your confidence you are quieting the voices of doubt in your mind (words are more powerful than thoughts). Also, you’re saying to your subconscious that this is who I am, I am a person of confidence. Then your subconscious will respond with the corresponding behaviour.
The most important part to this working is repeating the affirmation until you feel a sense of calm and certainty in what you’re saying. That’s how you will know that your subconscious believes it, and will act.
7. Smile to Show Confidence
This is a pretty simply one, but very profound.
I have a fear of rejection, and though it no longer cripples me from taking action it’s still there to a small extent.
When I started doing sales a few years ago and had to walk up to people, I realized smiling always seemed to help me with feeling a bit more comfortable and calmer in my interaction with others.
Why is this important to an interview? When you smile and feel comfortable in your own skin, you project that comfort to others. They in turn feel more comfortable being around you.
When that energy is projected back to you, that continuous back and forth exchange of positive energy helps to put you at ease, which slowly builds up your confidence.
So by simply smiling before even entering the interview, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable, and this builds your confidence.
I’m pretty sure you weren’t expecting this one to be a part of the list, but you know what…it works!
Now I know most people aren’t big on spirituality, and don’t believe in prayer, and that’s fine if that’s not your belief.
However, let me break down why you should do it anyway, and how it helps to develop confidence. Not from a spiritual standpoint, but a psychological one.
As I mentioned earlier the reason why you may lack confidence is because you doubt yourself and your abilities. So you don’t believe you’re good enough on your own merit to do an effective job.
When you pray what it does is create a sense of reassurance in your likelihood of success.
This happens because when you pray what you’re saying to yourself subconsciously is that you’re relying on a power greater than your own. You are saying your success is no longer dependent only on your level of skill and competency, but also a higher power.
Now whether you believe this is true or not is irrelevant. The point is psychologically you can convince yourself that your likelihood of success isn’t limited to you, but is unlimited in its capacity because of this higher power.
Think of it as strength in numbers. When you know you aren’t alone, and have a greater power with you, it brings a greater feeling on certainty that things will go your way. This in turn creates confidence.
Prayer removes thoughts of the impossible, and make them seem more possible.
Remember confidence is both an external and internal game. It’s based on your actions (external), but also on your perceptions, believes, and mindset about what’s possible (internal).
These 8 points aren’t a permanent fix for lack of confidence (there’s a much more detailed process for that). However, it’s a good place to start as a quick solution to help you be more confident in preparation for your next interview.
I wish you best of luck.
I’d love to know how it went, and if these tips helped. Feel free to send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regardless of what happens in that interview celebrate and congratulate yourself for doing a good job.
This will help to reinforce that you are good enough to win. Also, it reduces the chances of negative self talk which will lower your self-esteem and affect your confidence.
To your success my friend!
Know someone who has an upcoming job interview? Be a friend and share this with them!
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