Employers like to hire candidates with confidence in a job interview.
If you seem confident, they’ll assume that you’ll perform better in their job.
But how can you make sure to sound and appear confident during your interviews?
Feeling confident in an interview is one thing, but it’s important to make sure that employers can see this.
And if you’re not quite sure of yourself or one of the employer’s interview questions, how can you fake confidence? (And should you?)
Coming up, I’ll share the best ways to show confidence in an interview so you can get hired faster.
The ability to make eye contact and maintain it is one of the most important skills to master if you want to show confidence in any interaction.
Practice keeping good eye contact while listening but also while speaking (most people find it harder to make and maintain eye contact while talking, so pay extra attention to that).
There’s nothing more important than making eye contact when it comes to showing confidence, and it’s extremely noticeable if you’re staring downward or to the side when you talk to the interviewer.
Once you’ve made a habit of maintaining eye contact, it’s time to think about your body positions.
You want to stand and sit in open positions – arms by your sides, not crossed. Make your body take up a lot of space, rather than making yourself smaller. This is how to seem confident.
Photo example: This is the opposite of a “power stance”. This is how NOT to sit. See how she looks “folded up” and is occupying the least amount of space possible?
You can’t even see the woman’s face in this photo yet you can tell she’s apprehensive and not confident at all…
If you want more info and help with body language and “power stances”, here’s a full article on the best body language tips.
Be still, and make controlled, calculated movements. Don’t hold a pen or paper and fidget constantly. Be careful not to tap your hands or feet either.
It’s okay to be animated and talk with your hands. It’s probably even a good thing in most interviews to show enthusiasm. But don’t move your hands around when you should be listening! (More on listening coming up…)
Confident people smile. Nervous people grimace or wrinkle their faces up and look serious or preoccupied.
So along with making eye contact like we discussed earlier… smile and try to hold relaxed, calm facial expressions.
It’s okay to show you’re thinking about an interview answer or deciding what to say, but you shouldn’t constantly look like you’re strained and having a miserable time.
Next, you’ll need to answer interview questions confidently, which means not blurting out answers, not talking too quickly, and not rushing yourself.
Nervous people tend to talk faster, so when you’re addressing the interviewer, you’ll sound more confident if you can maintain a slow, calm pace to your answers.
Confident people take their time, and aren’t afraid to say, “That’s a great question, let me think for a second…”
It’s a good idea to take one or two seconds to think after each question from the interviewer, too. Just stop for one second and make sure you understood the question and think about what type of answer will sound best.
Once you blurt out an answer in your interview, you can’t get it back. So never be afraid to pause.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask an interviewer to clarify their question if you’re unsure of it. This is much better than rushing to blurt out a bad answer to a question you don’t quite understand.
One mistake to steer clear of if you want to answer interview questions confidently: rambling or giving long-winded answers.
When interviewers ask a question, they want a clear, direct answer.
For example, if they ask, “What can you bring to the company and position?” you should name two to three top skills. Focus on your main strengths. Don’t name 10 different skills.
Talking too much can show a lack of confidence and can cost you the job offer in an interview process.
So when the employer asks you a tough or complicated interview question, take a deep breath and think about which two to three crucial points to share.
Also, avoid giving too many personal details in the interview. Keep the conversation professional, when asked about strengths, weaknesses, goals, and more.
When responding to the interviewer’s questions, or practicing at home, notice whether your voice goes higher at the end of each answer, as if you’re asking a question.
This can be perceived as a lack of confidence in your answers.
Instead, ensure that your answers sound like confident statements, not questions.
Imagine a friend asked you what time it is, and you glanced at your phone and know the exact time. Give an example response aloud and notice your tone of voice at the end of the phrase. Sounds confident, right?
That’s what to aim for.
If you can make this one change, your entire interview will go better.
Nothing’s worse than a limp handshake. It shows a lack of experience in interviews and a lack of self-confidence. It can make you seem nervous or lacking in self-esteem.
So to prepare for your interview, practice shaking hands with a few friends or family members at home. There’s no pressure there so you can pay attention to what you’re doing, get live feedback, and ensure you’re ready to shake hands with an interviewer when given the opportunity.
Just knowing you have this little piece of the puzzle mastered will help you feel confident walking into a face-to-face interview and greeting the interviewer next time, and will show them immediately that you’re confident and not nervous.
Practice until your handshake is firm but not too aggressive/strong. You need to find a good balance.
Want to show confidence in your interview? Act like you have a lot of job opportunities and are picky and selective about where you go next in your career. This is how the top job seekers treat their job hunt.
You’re not looking for any job, or the first job that’ll hire you. You’re looking for the *right* job.
This approach is one of the best ways to sound confident in your interview and make yourself more appealing to employers.
To pull this off, you need to ask great questions throughout the interview.
You’re interviewing them while they’re interviewing you.
Don’t ever be cocky or arrogant. You still need to sell yourself and impress them.
But you’re simply evaluating what their opportunity can offer you at the same time, and implying that you’re looking into numerous opportunities to find the best fit.
You’ll always seem more confident if you act like you’re weighing numerous opportunities versus just talking to one employer.
And you’ll be more attractive to the hiring manager if you show that you’re focused on finding the correct fit, not just any job you can get. This will make them trust all of your answers more.
You don’t have to lie to do this. If you’re just starting your job search and they ask whether you’ve had other interviews, or how things are going, you can say:
“I just kicked off my job search recently. I’m just beginning to have phone conversations for the most part. It’s going well but it’s still very early in the process.”
That sounds a lot better than, “You’re the only company that I’ve met with for an interview.”
Don’t be a pushover. Don’t give references on the first phone interview. No top-level job seeker would do this. Are you going to let every company that does a phone interview with you call your references? That’s too much.
Act like you’re in demand, and if something doesn’t seem right… say so!
I’m not saying you should look for confrontations. Be respectful and work with the interviewer.
It should be a professional, civil conversation.
But don’t bend over backward at every request (unfortunately employers make some pretty ridiculous, demanding requests sometimes. And I can tell you the top job seekers… the most confident ones… tell them “no” when necessary).
Usually, it won’t come to that, and it just comes down to small interactions…
If you can’t make a certain interview date they asked you about, tell them and propose a new date.
If they have a few requirements or policies that you’re not 100% comfortable with or aren’t clear on, ask them. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions about the process.
Don’t just say “yes, okay” to everything they tell you. You have just as much control of the process as they do IF you can get this mindset down! There’s one of you, and MANY jobs out there. Act like it.
When you’re nervous you tend to plan what you’ll say and miss an opportunity to bond with the hiring manager. Focus on listening.
If they make a joke, you want to catch it and laugh. If you’re too busy thinking about what to say next, you’re going to mess this up and seem awkward and tense.
So actually listen, and then pause and think about how to respond SLOWLY (I mentioned this earlier. If you skimmed the article instead of reading you missed it and a lot more).
Don’t sit there planning your responses and waiting for your turn to talk.
The most confident job seekers know exactly what they want, and can explain it clearly and quickly.
The more you’ve researched the company and position, the more confident you’ll appear (and feel). It’s just human nature.
If you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, how can you feel confident answering questions?
So before any interview, you should go look at the company website. Find out what they sell and how they make money.
Look at their story and background info.
When and why were they founded?
How big are they?
Who are their competitors?
Interviewers can tell almost immediately if you took the time to research their job. And it’s pure effort. No talent is required. Every candidate should do this in their job search.
Nothing’s comfortable the first time you do it. So practice everything above before you’re sitting in front of the interviewer.
Practice your handshake, as mentioned earlier.
Practice how you’ll introduce yourself and answer, “Tell me about yourself.”
Practice delivering the questions you want to ask the company.
Practice how you’ll end the interview. (Here are 4 interview closing statement examples).
The more you practice, the more you’ll feel confident in big moments.
The more companies you interview with, the more you’ll boost your confidence in each interview.
This is due to the experience you’ll gain over time, but also the lower pressure you’ll feel with each individual interviewer and company because of the multiple options you have.
If you’re talking to five different employers, there’s less riding on each individual interview.
You’re going to be a lot less nervous giving interview answers to any one of them.
So this is some of the best advice I can offer in terms of how to conduct your job search overall to be confident and get hired faster. You need to apply to a lot of companies, not just get one interview and then wait around and hope it works out.
Whereas, if you’ve only got one company interested, every interview is going to seem like a life-and-death scenario, you’re going to be desperate to show them that you meet their qualifications, and it may backfire.
Trying too hard to impress in an interview can just alienate the hiring manager. (I discussed this in more detail below, so make sure to read the next section).
The main point here is: Get multiple interviews lined up, and I promise you, it’ll become a lot easier to stay relaxed and calm and fend off those nervous feelings.
Overall, you’ll get more job offers if you use the tips above to appear confident. Employers like to hear confident answers to their interview questions. They like to see natural eye contact and a calm, controlled demeanor.
However, hiring managers also like to see that you’re human in a job interview. It’s a mistake to act like you know the answer to everything if you don’t.
I can tell you after years of recruiting professionally, that it’s possible to have a successful interview and still say, “I’m not sure,” once or twice.
You can also say things like:
“Did that answer your question, or would you like me to share more detail?”
“Let me think for a minute. That’s a great question and I want to make sure to give you a good answer here.”
Sometimes, a candidate will try so hard to seem flawless in a job interview that it alienates the recruiter or hiring manager. We can’t get a true sense of this person’s knowledge level or confidence in the interview, and it can cost them the job offer.
I’ve seen it happen first-hand in an interview.
So use the tips above to be confident and show employers you can handle the challenges of their role, but understand this downside of faking confidence in an interview, too.
You should always aim to seem human and admit flaws or gaps in knowledge if you truly don’t know something.
Most hiring managers will figure out quickly if you’re faking knowledge in a topic in the interview, anyway. Faking confidence is one thing, but don’t fake knowledge.
Showing confidence in your interview requires a mix of strong body language, pre-interview research and knowledge, and practicing various parts of the interview (handshake, questions you’ll ask, how to wrap up the conversation, etc.)
Use the step above and you’ll seem more confident and get more job offers.
You’ll also start to feel more confident if you use these steps in your interviews. You’ll be more relaxed and be able to give much better answers.
Further reading: Body language tips for interviews.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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