How To Interview With Confidence
I have sat on both sides of the interview table, which has given me good insight into why confidence matters during this process.
Most companies will put you through several interviews before making a hiring decision. Phone interviews can vary. I went through two phone interviews with a Big Six consulting firm that gave me a call back. The first was with someone from the HR recruitment team, and it essentially involved verifying items on my resume. The second phone interview was with a member of the team I was slated to work with and we got into details concerning the relevance of my experience to the project they were working on.
Phone interviews are usually followed by in-person meetings. These are not likely to be structured in a way that makes the course they’ll take predictable. You’ll have to rely on your individual resources to make the right impression on the person or persons in front of you.
Confidence can go a long way towards making this happen. To show confidence you must project a sense of calm and surety. As someone who has been an interviewer, I can say that project teams aim to recruit persons who can get up to speed quickly, and then do the required work. Showing yourself to be someone who is competent, mentally agile, and cool under pressure will put your interviewers at ease about your ability to work effectively and independently.
Here are a few tips that will help you show confidence during an interview:
If you are not naturally funny, then don’t try to crack jokes. If you are most comfortable with the concrete in explaining yourself, then don’t be afraid to tell stories from your professional experience. In other words, use what you have, not what you don’t have. You must take an earnest look at the ways in which you best communicate. I have sat across from candidates who—I think as a way of coping with nerves—couldn’t stop bad mouthing their former colleagues. Such silly quips made the person look immature and unprofessional. The trouble lay not with their instincts, but with the focus of their conversation. Such anecdotes are best told about oneself, and are best expressed in a way that brings attention to your qualifications for the job.
A good resume gives the basics of your education, qualifications, and professional achievements. The interview gives you the opportunity to round out the picture of who you are as a person. You should come prepared to tell the interviewers something about you that they cannot glean from the resume. If provided with such an opportunity, show yourself as in command of what you’ve learned from past experience and how you will use it in the job for which you’re interviewing.
Relax and breathe. The interviewers are not expecting you to shoot out everything that comes into your head at once. A calm and deliberate answer to questions shows that you’re thoroughly in control of yourself, and that you can take a step back, reflect, and give a considered response to a pressing problem. This can only help you look good in the eyes of those evaluating you.
Fidgeting is an outward sign of anxiety. It indicates an inability to deal well with stressful situations. You must remember that you are in competition with other candidates. You may have a sparkling CV, but if your personal character is flawed you will have a tough time beating others for the job.
This is one of the first pieces of advice that most of us are ever given. However, it is not as hard as you think to forget it. I have been amazed, a number of times, at candidates who come into the interview room, are courteous in their manner and sturdy in their bearing, are quite clear and articulate as the interview starts, and then lose their composure by looking down at their lap or sideways at the wall. Make a point of keeping eye contact with the person who is speaking to you. If you are before a group of interviewers, start off by looking at the person who addressed you and then casually look at the others as you expound. This will show that you are confident in speaking to an audience.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.