Whether you are a working adult, student, or fresh grad, having a lack of confidence during certain circumstances is nothing to be ashamed of.
It is completely natural to feel so.
One of the common triggers for our lack of confidence is the reflection of past mistakes and occasions when our desired outcomes deviated from our expectations. The lack of confidence can also be further exaggerated by events happening in the present moment that we know could greatly affect the fate of our future.
For example, securing a job interview.
Since most of us define ourselves by what we do, being unsuccessful at acquiring a job may deepen our feeling of uselessness.
While the process of overcoming job interviewing stress is no walk in the park, sticking to your plans and persevering are just a few ways of getting in an employer’s door. Nailing that interview and getting your dream job requires hard work on your part. There are several claims that employers and recruiters can smell a candidate’s fear and lack of self-confidence within the first 10 seconds.
It is also claimed that their first impression of you plays a significant role in influencing their final decision. In fact, in an article published on CNBC make-it, ‘Shark Tank’ judge Barbara Corcoran once hired someone ‘within the first 5 or 6 seconds of a job interview.
“Whether or not a person likes you is going to be decided within the first five or six seconds of your meeting them. It’s not fair, but assumptions are made within seconds about our intelligence, sophistication, and abilities,” Barbara Corcoran said in a blog post.
Experienced recruiters can quickly evaluate you from the way you look and speak. They will judge the way you move, and how you interact with others. These behaviors and body language speak volumes about your level of self-confidence or the lack thereof.
So what should you do? Build, train and reinforce your confidence every step of the way. This will ensure that you will be prepared to nail a job interview, should one appear before you.
5 tips to prevent your low confidence from messing up your interview
“Every battle is won before it's ever fought.” Sun Tzu - The Art of War.
- Practice, practice, practice … with a mirror
You must have some level of understanding or idea of what you have signed up for before turning up for an interview. Leverage all the information you know to deepen your understanding of your potential interviewers and the company you are applying for. Using what you have gathered, come out with a list of commonly asked questions you may encounter during the interview and craft out your answers strategically. Next, rehearse your responses aloud, in front of the mirror. This can help you to re-evaluate your responses more objectively after hearing yourself out and become more self-conscious of the postures and expressions you are portraying. Keep practicing, evaluating, and improving until you are finally satisfied with your performance and feel as though you have committed your responses to muscle memory. You may even call a friend or close one to rehearse before them and ask for their feedback on your preparation, and/or throw you more questions to test your ability to respond eloquently. Based on my experiences, the harder I go on by myself during my preparation phase, the ‘easier’ the interview tends to turn out.
- Reconfiguring your mentality
You are not in the holding room just yet, but you are getting there. Now that you have done your necessary preparations and groomed up, it’s time to focus on your mental state. Building self-confidence for an interview, or for any type of challenging task, begins with reconfiguring your thinking. This may sound like some sophisticated brain rewiring performed in therapy, but it’s rather easy.
Start by pinpointing all the low-confidence triggers you associate with the interview. Are you anxious about not answering the questions well although you are thoroughly prepared? Is your resume lacking in something that you are not sure how to compensate for? Or do you simply feel easily intimidated speaking in front of a group of people judging you? Pen down all these triggers and take the time to note what you can say to yourself to pacify your thoughts when such events occur. Is there any negative self-talk involved? Change all your negative affirmations with positive ones. For example, “What I lack in experience I compensate with my strengths in …” or “The fact that they have called me for the interview means they see something in me and I am potentially the person they are looking for.”
- Win the Waiting Room
The moment you step into the company’s building you need to exude self-confidence, congeniality, kindness, and a positive attitude. By now you should have gained a better vision of yourself and your abilities. In the waiting room, you may find other candidates, but there is no need to feel intimidated by their presence. Tell yourself that they are probably just as worried as you are, so stay strong and remember to portray your best self. You might also be left alone to wait after being greeted by an office assistant or HR person. Whatever the situation, one of the ways to boost your self-confidence is by boosting others’ moods and feelings. Be friendly and encouraging with the other candidates in the room, smile at the people you encounter, make a positive and uplifting comment towards another person, and show confidence even if you don’t feel it entirely.
Be cautious - Sometimes when we try to show confidence, we try a little too hard. Keep your voice in check with your emotions and breathing. Take a necessary pause in conversation when you need to and don’t try to impress anybody too hard. Take your seat and make sure you choose a power posing that doesn’t suggest arrogance, but self-confidence.
- Own the first four minutes
This is the time that can turn your interview into a successful venture, and everything you did so far built up to this exact moment. While nobody says skilled and qualified candidates can’t take the job if they don’t show exceeding levels of self-confidence, owning the first four minutes of the interview can surely help you to stand out from the other candidates. We mentioned power posing earlier – a concept used in and in connection with body language. Power posing means standing in a posture of confidence with your back straight, your head up, and with an open body position. For example, leaning forward slightly will send the message that you’re interested and engaged while smiling displays kindness and friendliness. Such an attitude is said to affect your testosterone and cortisol levels, making you feel more confident and powerful. Also, slouching in the chair doesn’t help, as it may suggest you lack energy or you are tense or nervous.
Handshaking is also an important part of your first minutes. A firm handshake speaks of confidence, while a too firm one may be perceived as aggressive. While shaking your interviewer’s hand, make eye contact and smile, keeping the handshake as long as it feels natural. If you are interested in executing the most ideal handshake, and understand how others may perceive various kinds of handshakes, I recommend reading “Seven Super Revealing Things Your Handshake Says About You” on Forbes. You should also maintain control of your voice: keep it on a normal pitch, speak clearly and use a confident tone of voice that doesn’t allow for the other party to perceive tension, over-excitement, anxiety, or emotion. Use your hands moderately. An open body position is good and reaffirms your self-confidence, but don’t overuse hand or body gestures while you engage in pre-interview small talk or present yourself.
- Nail That Interview!
Remember not to fidget and keep your power posing and eye contact at all times. Breath calmly and pause before you answer. Give yourself time to reflect, react properly and digest the question before giving a well-thought-out and composed answer. Avoid acting cute by laughing at your jokes or the interviewer’s friendly remarks. Smiling when it is due and looking cheerful is one thing. Emitting forced, nervous laughs is quite another. While talking to your interviewer, remember this is not an interrogation procedure, but an actual conversation. Feel free to ask your interviewer questions about the company and the job. More importantly, try to continue generating positive energy for yourself. Sustain the positive and affirmative self-talk you had earlier, throughout the interview. At the end of the day, people will remember how you made them feel. A recruiter is more likely to incline over you instead of the other candidates if he remembers that you were positive, open, honest, genuine, and kind – these are those soft skills recruiters look for.
I hope this article has been somewhat useful in terms of helping you to better prepare yourself for an upcoming interview or any interview you may be having in the future. The build-up to an interview as well as the interview itself can make us feel like we are going through an ordeal, and that is normal. From my experiences, I have realized that the number of hours put into preparing and rehearsing for an interview often have a positive correlation to the level of accumulated confidence I possess for an interview. In addition, surrounding yourself with positive energy right before an interview is extremely crucial in positively influencing your level of confidence. Finally, if you are reading this article because you have an interview around the corner, I would like to wish you all the best and ace that interview with confidence!