Your resume is the most impressive one in the recruiter’s pile. But when you meet your prospective employer for the interview, you avoid making eye contact, fiddle with your hair, mumble your words, or exhibit other signs that you lack confidence. Result: someone else who is less qualified — but makes a better in-person impression — gets the offer.
Why? Because your insecure manner has made the interviewer doubt whether you really command all the experience and skills that your resume claims. You’ve also shown that you may not be so good at integrating yourself with their team — an asset that is just as important to most employers.
It’s clear, then, that self-confidence will do more to help you land the job than your resume ever could. Here’s how to project that winning attitude.
Look Your Best
Knowing that you’re perfectly dressed for the interview will go a long way towards boosting your confidence. In could pay off in other ways too: studies show that candidates perceived as attractive tend to get offered more money.
Get your outfit together (cleaned, pressed, etc.) well in advance. Then, right before you walk in the door, do a final mirror check for combed hair, clean teeth, flawless makeup, straight tie, smudgeless shoes and so on.
Of course, that’s hard to do in such a pressure packed situation. But the more you can come across as relaxed and comfortable with yourself and what you’re saying, the more confident you’ll appear to the interviewer.
To help yourself relax, take deep regular breaths while you’re waiting to be called into the interview room. Meanwhile, remind yourself that you are a valid and desirable candidate with skills that this employer wants; otherwise, they wouldn’t have invited you here.
Watch Your Body Language
Your mannerisms make all the difference in whether you’re seen as positive and assertive, or the opposite. Practice the points on this checklist to make sure you get it right:
Smile: like you really mean it
Eye contact: direct and frequent (but don’t stare like a deer in the headlights)
Handshake: moderately firm (not limp like spaghetti, not bonecrushing as a vise)
Posture: no slouching, either when standing or seated
Fidgeting (hair twirling, tie adjusting, foot tapping, squirming): don’t
Know What You Want to Say …
You’ll be more calm and confident if your answers are planned and practiced in advance. Search the internet for interview questions you’re likely to have thrown at you. While you’re at it, check out the company you’ll be interviewing with, so you can speak intelligently about why you want to work there.
… What Not to Say …
Your conversational style can also sabotage the image you’re trying to create. For example, frequent use of filler words such as “um,” “like” and “basically” is not only annoying to the person you’re speaking with, it can also make you seem unsure of what you’re talking about. Many people aren’t even aware of how much they do this, so ask a friend who will be honest or get someone to videotape you.
Another type of phrase to avoid is “I think…” or “I’m sorry, but…” This sounds apologetic and insecure: the opposite of confident.
… and How to Say It
Your speaking voice says a lot more about you than the words coming out of your mouth. Too soft = timid, weak. Too loud = overbearing. Too slow = unintelligent. Too fast = nervous, might be lying. Aim for a pitch and pace that sound relaxed, yet fully engaged in the discussion.
Your answers to the interviewer’s questions should be long enough to make your point; but beware of babbling on, which also signals anxiety. You might find yourself revealing more than you wanted to, or was even asked for.
By managing how you look, act and speak, you’ll convey to the interviewer that you’re confident, competent, enthusiastic … and give yourself an edge over your competition.