Let me guess; whenever your CV earns you an interview, you start researching the company and ironing your shirt, maybe polishing your shoes but… have you also considered your energy and confidence in interviews?
While it’s often the last thing job seekers think about—if they focus on it at all—it can actually make or break your interview right from the start.
Is confidence important in an interview?
Yes, confidence in interviews is extremely important: in fact, 39% of candidates get rejected due to a lack of it!
If you’re feeling uneasy, interviewers can ALWAYS tell, from your limp handshake to the way you keep fidgeting and the fact that you’re avoiding eye contact as if you were trying to get away with shoplifting.
So, sure: your CV is still vital to help you get there, and researching the company gives you even higher chances of success. However, none of it will matter if the energy you radiate during the actual interview is making the hiring manager feel uncomfortable.
I hear you: ‘But I don’t FEEL confident, Kayleigh!’
I get it. It’s normal to be stressed and think of all the worst-case scenarios before an interview. Maybe you even tell yourself that you know you’re not going to get the job just so you’re not too heartbroken when that happens?
Unfortunately, by accepting and perpetuating those negative behaviours, you’re actually self-sabotaging your interviews!
While even the most self-assured-looking people occasionally need an element of fake-it-till-you-make-it, there are also some strategies that you can use to actually feel this positive energy and confidence in interviews.
The first one? Be like athletes (I’ll tell you how!).
How do you show confidence in interviews?
8 actionable tips
So, we’ve established that confidence in interviews is essential, but how do you actually show it to these hiring managers? And, most importantly, how do you feel it yourself?
The trick is to get started before the actual meeting.
1. Start by priming yourself for success
It’s easy to fill our minds with negative thoughts and worries before an interview: what if the other candidates have more experience than I do? What if I start stuttering?
What if, what if, what if…
So, instead of feeling helpless by worrying about stuff that’s beyond your control, you’ll be surprised at the difference you can make by… simply focusing on something you can manage and regulate: your breathing.
For example, you could try the 4-7-8 technique by breathing in through your nose for four seconds, holding your breath for seven, and exhaling through your mouth for eight.
Now, the athlete technique that I hinted at!
Footballers visualising the ball going in when taking a penalty, gymnasts picturing themselves executing the perfect jump… The most successful sportspeople take the time to see themselves succeed before they move a muscle.
Do the same before your interview!
Visualise a successful scene, from a firm handshake to a smooth conversation and an enthralled interviewer. Don’t stop there, though: picture yourself getting the job, too!
For the best results and to really bring out this confidence in interviews, I actually recommend starting this exercise a few days before your meeting.
2. Practice your handshake
An important thing to keep in mind when learning how to be confident in an interview is that you only have 7 seconds to make a good first impression.
With your handshake being one of your very first interactions with this hiring manager, it can make a HUGE difference.
Limp handshakes are a major giveaway of a lack of self-confidence. At the same time, you don’t want to come across as aggressive either.
Ideally, you should aim for a balance between the two: a firm handshake with two or three pumps, lasting between two and five seconds. Your other hand should also be visible and relaxed rather than clenched.
Why not practice it with your friends and family, first?
3. Keep your posture straight… and stop fidgeting!
Understanding and mastering body language can also help you look confident in interviews.
Clicking a pen, tapping on the desk, shaking your legs, twirling your hair: these are all tell-tale signs that you’re uncomfortable. And the worst part? You’ll end up making your interviewer feel that way, too!
Same if you’re ‘shrinking’ or crossing your arms against your chest.
Instead, show confidence in interviews by taking up more space and giving off some calm vibes: sit straight with your shoulders open, and refrain from fidgeting.
If you’re really struggling with the latter, consider keeping your hands relaxed but clasped together in your lap or on the table.
Not sure if and how you fidget after talking for a few minutes? Try a mock interview with friends and ask them. Or, even better: film yourself!
4. Make eye contact (yes, it does matter!)
Did you know that, for a whopping 67% of candidates, avoiding eye contact contributes to them getting rejected?
Mastering this simple trick will instantly give you an advantage over a sizeable chunk of your competition.
So, show engagement and confidence in interviews by keeping your eye contact natural and steady, especially when answering questions.
Don’t go overboard, though! You don’t want it to be too intense, either: don’t forget to blink or, for example, look at your CV from time to time if referencing something from it.
5. Aim for a relaxed but passionate attitude
While you don’t want to come across as stressed, you should avoid being perceived as boring or passive, too.
Show curiosity when your interviewer is talking and excitement on the hottest topics!
Nodding your head in agreement will also help. And while we’ve already established that fidgeting is a no-no, you can certainly use hand gestures to reinforce or emphasise certain points.
Also facial expressions such as thoughtfulness and excitement will have the interviewer feeling really good about you.
6. Smile and show your personality
Most candidates aim to impress the interviewers, which definitely makes sense.
If you want to stand out even more, though, I recommend focusing on impressing them and making an actual connection.
Smiling is yet another way to help them like you even more as well as showing confidence in interviews.
7. Make thoughtful pauses in between questions
Rather than ending up starting every answer with ‘errr’ and ‘uhm’ or rambling on, confident candidates aren’t scared to pause or say things like ‘That’s an excellent question. Let me think about it for a moment.’
That way, you’ll avoid filler words or going off-topic, showing that you’re actually thinking about what the interviewer has just asked you.
To refrain from rambling, try and stick to one point or topic per answer. This is truly a skill to master and with practise, you will get better.
8. Ask memorable questions to leave a lasting impact
Nothing’s worse than shaking your head no when your interviewer asks if you have any questions for them (unless you’re trying to come across as desperate and uncomfortable, that is!).
A powerful way to show confidence in interviews is to ask questions that prove how you’re also making sure that you and that company are the right long-term fit.
The safest method? Come up with a few ideas before the actual interview.
Stay away from standard questions such as 'can you tell me about the training' the interviewer will hear this time and time again.
In a sea of sameness, be the shark. Ask impactful questions and you will be remembered!
Fast-track your career success and master confidence in interviews!
I know: it’s not easy to get your foot in the door and learn how to be confident in interviews all on your own, but you can definitely get some professional help.
To take your career to the next level, there are three main stages that you must excel at:
Perfecting your CV and other relevant materials to