5 Great Tips for an Interview Self-Confidence Boost
Right now is what I like to call “interview season” – the time of year when many companies are gearing up their hiring process and colleges around the country are preparing to send thousands of talented young candidates into the job market. At my office, we are busy preparing internship and full-time job applicants to sell their qualifications during the interview and navigate the hiring process for a wide variety of industries.
While career counselors spend a lot of time helping candidates understand concepts like basic interview etiquette (pdf) and the differences between traditional vs. behavioral questions, sometimes there are other concerns that get put on the backburner.
Issues that would probably fall into the category of “self-care” – such as stress management – can dramatically impact your success in the job search even if you understand the best approaches for responding to interview questions.
For that reason, I’d like to take a moment today to address one very important facet of your interview preparation – harnessing your self-confidence and leveraging it to your advantage.
We’ve all been there – you’re sitting in the parking lot about to walk in to your interview. Your stomach is in knots and you’re starting to break into a cold sweat. You look over your resume one final time and ask yourself, “Do I really have what it takes to land this job?”
Self-confidence is absolutely vital to a successful job search. After all, if you cannot convince yourself that you are a great candidate, how can you expect to persuade an employer? You must sincerely believe that you are an outstanding applicant and be able to professionally demonstrate the reasoning behind your claim.
Here are a few exercises you can go through to help you feel more confident:
List Why You’re A Great Candidate
You can begin with some simple list-making. Sit down with a copy of the job description and/or any other related information you have compiled in the course of your research. Look over the line-by-line description of the position and the qualifications they are seeking.
Next, think about your own experience and review your resume. Write down all of the qualifications you have that align with the employer’s needs. This could be anything – volunteer work, a class, a previous job or an internship experience.
Soft skills are fine as well (“I have great interpersonal skills”), but you then need to think of a specific example that demonstrates that characteristic. At the end of the exercise, you will not only feel more confident about your ability to do the job, but you will also have some great examples that you can use during the interview!
List All the People Who Believe in You
This exercise is a little less technical, but is very easy and I think it’s quite helpful. If you ever find yourself mired in self-doubt, begin thinking about all of the people who are in your corner. Who would give you a pep talk if they were with you right before the interview? What would they say? What friends or even acquaintances would speak positively about you if they were asked?
If you like, label the top of the page with the phrase “People Who Believe in Me”, and then put down a list of every name you can think of – friends, relatives, coworkers, professors, etc. When completed, you will have a page full of reasons to feel good about yourself!
Find Your Theme Song
This one is pretty self-explanatory – find a song that pumps you up and makes you feel good! It can be a song with positive lyrics or just something with an upbeat vibe. Make it your job search anthem, or build an entire playlist if you see fit. Just don’t get caught singing in the parking lot before your interview!
At the risk of losing my man-card, I’ll share with you my own example: http://youtu.be/QGJuMBdaqIw
And one more of my favorite (slightly-more-masculine) examples: http://youtu.be/oKsxPW6i3pM
Understand the Power of Body Language
I think that understanding the power of body language can be tremendously helpful in boosting your confidence level. I recently came across a great TEDTalk by Amy Cuddy which explains this concept in detail:
The key point is this – exhibiting confident body language can literally make you more confident by triggering physiological changes in your body. If you spend a few minutes before your interview in a confident pose, your body will release chemicals that help you handle the stressful, confrontational nature of the interview.
I love Amy Cuddy’s tagline in her TEDTalk – “Fake it until you become it.” – and I highly encourage you to watch her video to learn more about this fascinating idea!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Like it or not, your interview is a performance. And just like any actor or musician, you do not want to step out on the stage without a great deal of preparation. Do as much research as you can to anticipate what the interview will look like (Glassdoor.com is one great resource), and then find ways to practice.
If there are particular questions you expect, think about relevant examples you can use and how you want to go about telling those stories. If you expect a case question or a quantitative test, brush up on those skills as much as possible. Have a friend (or career counselor) give you a mock interview, and ask them for their candid feedback.
Just keep in mind that successful interviews require a lot of skills that we do not use on a daily basis – self-promotion, professional etiquette, concise story-telling, etc. Honing those skills beforehand can greatly increase your confidence and decrease your stress levels on the day of the interview!