If there’s one time in your working life you need a bit of self-belief, it’s when you’re looking for a job, especially during interviews. A dreaded moment for many, candidates often worry about performing badly, stress over being stumped by a question, and get anxious about not landing the job. To fan the flames, it’s usually around then that our self-confidence decides to take a vacation! To convince a recruiter in an interview, you need to believe in your skills … but how do you develop self-belief? And how can you be more self-assured when talking to recruiters? Here are our tips for channeling your inner Michelle Obama.
1. List your skills (you have more than you think!)
This might seem obvious, but it speaks to a fundamental interview fear: not being good enough. Your skills are your greatest ally against this underlying anxiety. You might not realize it, but you have plenty going for you. So, before the interview, work out exactly what that is. Re-read the job ad, list the qualities they’re looking for, link them to your past experiences, and write down all your strengths on a piece of paper. If you don’t tick all the boxes in the ad, that doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of getting the job (you landed an interview after all).
If there are some gaps, plan what you’re going to say and focus on your desire to evolve and learn: “I know you were looking for someone who can use video editing tools, that’s exactly the sort of thing I’d love to add to my skillset. I’ve started teaching myself with online tools and I’d love to develop those skills further in this role.” Lastly, confidence is about self-awareness, knowing your strengths and weaknesses. If you know what they are and you own them, you’ll be much happier talking about them.
2. Know what you want to say
Have you ever had to recite a poem in front of the whole class at school? When you learn your words by heart, you can concentrate on other things when speaking aloud: intonation, breathing, and connecting with your listeners. Conversely, if you’re feeling unsure of the words you’re speaking, you’ll stutter, go red, and lose focus.
It’s the same with job interviews. The better you master your pitch, the more you’ll be able to concentrate on the other stuff, like your body language and connecting with the recruiter. It’s not about learning everything by heart, you don’t want to sound like a robot. It’s about mastering the outline of what you want to say: your career history, your skills, your motivations. You need to be comfortable with your story.
Practice makes perfect: stand in front of your mirror and work on the interview out loud, rehearse it in the shower, adapting it as you go. The best way to practice is to ask your friends to be the interviewees. If you can explain it perfectly to a friend then you’ll be able to convince a recruiter.
Your friends can also remind you of your successes and all those little positive things about your personality you might not even be aware of. Ask them for feedback, they’ll judge your presentation with kindness
3. Be positive
Smile at the receptionist when you go in, and make polite conversation in the elevator, it doesn’t need to be anything major, just be nice. These little social interactions might seem trivial, but all together they become your first impression. Employers are looking for someone who’ll fit easily into their team. Always remember that the time you’re in the building before the interview is just as important as the interview itself.
So make the most of it, accept the drink you’re offered (it’ll stop your mouth from going dry with stress), and exchange a few words with the person looking after you. Show them you’re excited to be there and that you’re at ease. You’ll kill two birds with one stone: you’ll reveal your personality and you won’t be worrying about the imminent interview.
Keep up the positivity in the interview too. Avoid pessimistic and self-deprecating expressions like, “I’m not very…”, “I know less about…”
4. Fake it till you make it!
You’ve got this! “Conscious Autosuggestion,” the idea that positive thinking can improve your confidence, was first discovered by psychologist Emile Coué. You can use it, for example, by repeating in the hours leading up that you’re going to pass your interview with flying colors.
Our subconscious is much more powerful than we think and it controls many of our physical and nervous states, so talking to it makes sense!
5. Take back the power
One reason interviews unsettle us and make us feel less confident is because of the recruiter-candidate power imbalance. We see interviews as an exercise where recruiters are testing us. And that’s true, but it’s not the whole story. You’re also looking to join a company you like. You’ve got your own selection criteria and they have to convince you too! Your acceptance isn’t a given.
If you turn up at the interview with the idea that it’s simply a chance to chat and get to know the company better to see whether it meets your expectations, you’ll overturn the power balance and feel a lot less vulnerable.
6. Consider your body language
Let’s say that deep down, nothing’s changed and you’re still feeling insecure. Your body language might just save the day. During the interview, strike your best pose: a friendly smile, arms visible on the table (e.g. hands crossed on the desk) or the arms of your chair, legs crossed or firmly planted on the floor.
Bonus tip: look the recruiter in the eye and use your hands to animate when you speak.
7. Get perspective
OK, so you really want the job and need to give it your best shot. But let’s get some perspective: you’re not on Squid Game, your life isn’t on the line! If you know yourself well, and you keep it natural, everything will be all right. And if you don’t get the job, maybe it wasn’t the one for you? It’s not the end of the world; you’ll find another one that’s a better fit for you and your goals.
It might be easier said than done, but if you repeat that to yourself before going into your interview it might help you to stay calm and be yourself.
Translated by Debbie Garrick
Photo: Welcome to the Jungle
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