Career Advice: How to be confident in an interview

At school, some of us were better at written exams than coursework, or preferred oral exams to written exams. As we seek to enter the world of work by embarking on a job search, we similarly find that some of us may feel more comfortable with creating a CV and cover letter than we are in a job interview.

For others, it’s vice versa. Of course, when it comes to finding a job, the two elements go hand—in a job search, you must be prepared to both send in a written application and attend the consequent interview to land the role.

It’s particularly understandable why so many of us find the interview side of things to be so challenging. You’re effectively meeting a stranger—or maybe more than one—face to face in an unfamiliar environment in order to sell yourself to their organisation. And yet the truth is each of us is perfectly capable of doing so, provided we’re being interviewed for a role that is right for us.

The trouble we have with interviews is not necessarily to do with lack of ability but is more connected to the way we perceive the interview process— and ourselves. Simply put, if we’re low on inner confidence, we’re going to be anything between nervous and terrified at the prospect of an interview. When our future and our livelihood are arguably dependent on the outcome of that interview, it just intensifies the pressure.

This leads us to the age-old question of how to be confident in an interview. It’s all very well saying we must boost our confidence, but what does that actually mean? Can you ‘turn up’ your confidence the way you turn up the central heating? There are certainly some practical steps you can take to start feeling more confident in yourself prior to the interview:

•    Practice answering questions in front of the mirror. It’s when we feel we haven’t practiced doing something enough that we feel most nervous about it. This is partly why we can sometimes freeze up when interviewers are asking us questions. Practice beforehand by getting hold of a list of common interview questions and answering them whilst looking at yourself in the mirror. Keep an eye on your body language and also make sure you’re opening your mouth enough when you speak, in order to articulate the words clearly.

•    Pay attention also to the tone of your voice. Use a Dictaphone to record yourself answering typical questions. Listen back to your voice to see if it has enough intonation in it. When we’re nervous we can often end up speaking in a monotone and/or too quickly, so it’s worth consciously working on pace and intonation before the interview.

•    Once you’re comfortable at this level, consider moving onto a role playing situation. Get a friend, relative, colleague or other contact to play the role of the interviewer, asking you the questions. Alternatively, if you’re working with a career guide or coach as part of your job search strategy, they may offer mock interview sessions as part of their suite of services.

•    We as job candidates are often asked about our CVs in interviews and if we’re not prepared we can get caught on the hop and end up feeling silly for not being able to talk about our own resume. Re-read your CV the night before your interview and think about the angles the interviewer may take when asking you about it. Take a copy of the CV to have in front of you in the actual interview room too.

•    Leave plenty of time on the morning of your interview to wash thoroughly, groom properly and pick out a smart but comfortable outfit. We’re more confident—and also more motivated—when we’ve spent sufficient time and effort on our appearance.

•    Depart for your interview in good time so you don’t end up running late during your journey and panicking. This type of anxiety can drain our confidence and prey on any feelings of doubt, yet it is so easily avoidable.

By Nisa Chitakasem, Founder of Position Ignition, the UK’s leading Career Consulting Company. Nisa co-founded Position to provide career consulting to people looking for guidance and support through their career change, new career direction, job search and career development.