Job searches, especially unsuccessful ones, are notorious for sucking the confidence out of anyone. Who really enjoys sending endless resumes and cover letters out only to get a computerized rejection letter? After a string of rejections, it’s no wonder that your self-confidence takes a beating.
As a career coach who works primarily with college students and recent graduates, building my clients’ self-confidence is often the most important work we do together.
Like many of the things that you need to do to get a job, and be successful in the role, gaining confidence is an acquired skill for most people. Self-confidence gives you a positive, but not unrealistic, perception of your ability to tackle challenges, such as a new job.
Talking about yourself can be awkward and uncomfortable, yet it is an important part of any interview. It also helps to understand that there is a fine line between self-assurance and arrogance.
Merriam Webster defines self-assurance as “confidence in yourself and your abilities” and arrogance as “an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people.”
One is clearly a desirable trait. The other, not so much.
As a job candidate, you must demonstrate that you are, in fact, the best choice among all the candidates. An interview requires finding the right balance of self-confidence and humility.
So how can you become a more confident interviewer without crossing over line?
Here are 10 easy things that you can do to increase your interviewing confidence:
1. Email several friends or family members and ask them to list five of your key strengths, preferably ones that would translate well to the workplace. Hearing your strengths from others makes them feel more real. You also may be surprised by what you hear (e.g. that they think pretty highly of you and your strengths).
2. Spend some time reflecting on the list. Think of examples of how you have used your strengths to make a positive impact, either at a past job, on a project or as a volunteer.
3. Review job descriptions that interest you. Think about how well your strengths match the job requirements. Be able to articulate how you could employ your strengths to help the employer if they were to hire you.
4. Preparation = confidence. Before any interview, use the 10:1 rule. You should spend 10 times as much time preparing for your interview as you will spend interviewing.
5. Set up informational interviews with your connections (or with theirs). Research the interviewer, the company and the industry. Don’t skimp on this step.
6. Set up Google alerts and follow companies you are interested in on LinkedIn, and Twitter. That way, you’ll know whenever they are in the news.
7. Prepare a list of at least five questions for the interviewer that leverage the research that you have done. But please, don’t ask about vacation, salary or perks in the first interview. It’s a guaranteed job offer killer, and you’ll sound both clueless and arrogant.
8. Practice your interview responses out loud. Practice in the shower, in the car, with a friend, even in front of your pet.
9. If you have an interview, at the end, thank the interviewer for their time and express your sincere interest in the position (if true). Consider asking for feedback on anything that you might have done better in the interview. You’ll be amazed at the positive impression this leaves. You also might learn a couple of things that will help you in your next interview.
10. Last, if you are getting down on yourself and find your self-confidence waning, use the “Best Friend Rule.” Think of what you would say if your best friend were feeling as you are. Then say it to yourself. We are much kinder to our friends than we ever are to ourselves.
If you do these things, you’ll do just fine. I am confident of it.
Lisa R. Miller is founder and chief career catalyst at C2C, College to Career, where she helps college students, recent graduates and young professionals navigate the transition from college to career.