Confident, not cocky: Perfecting the art of humble confidence in interviews

Jan 09, 2024

5 mins

Confident, not cocky: Perfecting the art of humble confidence in interviews
Natalia Barszcz

Freelance journalist and writer

We often hear that landing a job involves active self-promotion, but it’s equally essential to avoid appearing purely arrogant. On the other hand, research suggests that a substantial portion of employers—40%—would be hesitant to hire candidates perceived as lacking confidence, with indicators such as speaking softly, being rather quiet, or delivering a limp handshake, usually leaving them with a negative impression.

The question is: How can we effectively sell ourselves without going too far? How do we find that sweet spot between being humble and showcasing confidence in our skills and personality? To help you balance humility and confidence throughout the interviewing process, we spoke with career coach Sonia Sheechoria, creator of Level Up with Sonia on TikTok.

Confidence is key

How often have you heard this phrase? Well, in job interviews confidence really is key—and it shouldn’t be underestimated. “Confidence is a critical component of any stage of the recruitment process,” says Sheechoria. She also explains that it’s confidence that candidates often unfortunately lack, and the reason why they might not land the job after the interview.

“It’s not [through] a fault of their own, as nowhere along the way during our studies and upbringing are we taught on how to market ourselves,” Sheechoria explains. Talking about your skills isn’t something that you do daily, but when you’re a job candidate, you’re put in a situation where talking about yourself and your skills is the focal point. “This can bring feelings of awkwardness, making candidates feel like they’re bragging. When in reality, it’s exactly what you’re supposed to do!”

If your confidence needs a boost

Let’s face it: though desired, bragging doesn’t come easy to many of us. So if you struggle with confidence during job interviews, remember that by landing the interview, the recruiter has already deemed you qualified, in at least some capacity, for the role. “The interview is just an opportunity to assess fit with the company and the team,” says Sheechoria.

To boost your confidence during job interview preparations, she recommends exercising the three C’s method of interviewing, which stands for Confidence, Communication, and Credibility. “By showing clear communication and your credibility, your confidence will inherently show up.” How can this be exercised? A significant factor that can change the way the interviewers perceive you when talking about yourself and your previous experience is the use of pronouns—meaning that instead of using ‘we’, you should simply opt for ‘I’.

“It’s easy to say ‘we’ as if the team accomplished this big goal but that’s a red flag to the panelists,” Sheechoria explains. Why might this be? “While being part of a team is common and crucial for key skills such as collaboration and adaptability, referring to the team rather than yourself in a job interview doesn’t effectively convey how you, as an individual, contributed to the accomplishment.”

Instead, she suggests focusing on yourself, what you did, and how you did it—without feeling guilty or braggy for talking about it. At the end of the day, the interview is about you, your experience, your skills, and what you can bring to the table. “Focus your storytelling on the exact process and tasks you accomplished. You always need to show that you were the hero, even if you played a small part.”

Too much of a good thing …

On the other hand, if you tend to dominate conversations with excessive confidence and effortlessly steer discussions toward yourself in most instances, this can also pose a challenge to your job interview performance. Interviewers may not appreciate excessive self-focus, raising concerns about how this trait might affect teamwork in the workplace. That’s why striking a balance here is key—confidently highlighting your strengths while showing an understanding of collaborative dynamics can leave a more positive impression on your interviewers.

Talking about your expertise is essential. For example, mentioning your successful track record or years in the field during introductions—particularly in the case of seasoned candidates. “However, to avoid sounding overly self-assured, you can also discuss how you stay informed about new developments in your field, such as evolving technology or industry trends,” says Sheechoria. “By showing this balance, you won’t come off as braggadocious, but rather someone who is collaborative and willing to learn—steering clear of an overly confident image while still showcasing your strengths.”

Finding the perfect balance

Suppose too much modesty in job interviews is undesirable, while too much confidence is equally problematic. How can we strike a balance when talking about ourselves in job interviews and showcase our achievements and skills without coming across as boastful or overly modest? Sheechoria recommends the following:


Mastering storytelling is a pivotal skill when talking about examples of your career that align with the position, elevating your presence in job interviews without appearing overly self-centered or excessively detailed. Crafting a compelling narrative as such demands not just effective communication skills but also a keen awareness of how each story uniquely reinforces your qualifications and suitability for the role. “Being able to articulate this in a clear and concise way, without repeating simply what’s on your resume or cover letter, is what will help capture the interviewers’ attention,” says Sheechoria.

“Hero Bank”

If you struggle with talking about yourself and your experience confidently in job interviews, Sheechoria recommends using her “Hero Bank” strategy. “Essentially, ‘Hero Bank’ is a curated list of examples in your career that casts you in the role of the hero, serving as a reservoir of anecdotes and accomplishments strategically chosen to showcase your abilities, contributions, and impact,” she explains. This method helps you confidently present your professional self in interviews, allowing you to respond well to different situations and stand out as a strong candidate.


To help you be strategic in your communication and not divert into talking about yourself too much or not enough, Sheechoria recommends using the Problem-Process-Impact method. “This three-step process really helps candidates get straight to the point without sounding robotic,” she explains. You can approach it like this:

  • Problem: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • Process: What was the process/steps you took to solve the problem?
  • Impact: From the efforts you made, what was the impact you had on the organization?

This approach not only provides a more nuanced understanding of your capabilities, but also showcases your ability to navigate and contribute effectively within the larger professional landscape.

Entering 2024 with confidence (but not too much)

In the current challenging job market—which is anticipated to further persist until the latter part of 2024—maintaining professionalism during interviews is crucial across various sectors and industries. “Regardless of your sector, industry, or title, there is an expectation that candidates will show up to interviews and conduct themselves in a professional manner, even for more laid-back fields, such as tech,” says Sheechoria.

On the other hand, be conscious of how you communicate about yourself and your experience in job interviews. Avoid coming across as overly self-assured, ensuring that you present yourself as a competent professional without appearing arrogant. Instead of solely focusing on individual achievements, contextualize your narrative within specific situations. Illustrate the type of professional you are by painting a comprehensive picture that places you within the broader context of your industry and the particular company you represent.

Striking this equilibrium between confidence and humility is key to making a positive and lasting impression during job interviews. “Be prepared to answer the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question confidently and professionally—and convey your personal brand in your answer.”

Photo: Welcome to the Jungle

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