Projecting confidence in a job interview can be just as important as showing your skills and demonstrating your unique qualifications. It is important to practice the way you communicate confidence and professionalism, as this can improve your performance in the room as well as calm your nerves. This article provides tips for demonstrating confidence to your job interviewers.
Why confidence matters
Confidence is the act of trusting yourself. During a job interview, showing that you trust yourself is critical because it can lead your interviewer to trust in you, as well. Aim to communicate to your interviewer that you know you can do this job well. However, it is normal to feel nervous when interviewing, so try to take some time to practice how to appear confident before your meeting.
How to appear confident in an interview
Use these tips to impress interviewers with your confidence:
- Make eye contact.
- Maintain good posture.
- Practice your handshake.
- Practice breathing techniques.
- Calm your fidgeting.
- Prepare and rehearse your answers.
- Talk slowly.
- Dress the part.
- Think positively.
1. Make eye contact
To show confidence, start by practicing your eye contact. Keeping natural and steady eye contact throughout your interview is an excellent way to project confidence. Aim to maintain natural eye contact instead of making eye contact that feels intense or prolonged. Try occasionally looking at your resume or other material you brought with you to the interview before turning your attention back to the hiring manager.
2. Maintain good posture
After you work on your eye contact, you might also find it helpful to practice good posture. Body language is an important aspect of communicating confidence during your interview. Start by sitting with your arms unfolded in your lap to convey an open, friendly attitude. Make your back straight with your shoulders back and your chest and chin raised.
Pro-tip: Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, chest and chin high, back straight and your fists on your waist for a few minutes before your interview can make you feel calmer and confident.
3. Practice your handshake
One great way to show confidence in an interview is to greet the interviewer with a firm handshake. A firm handshake shows experience and confidence, and it gives the interviewer a good first impression. Keep the following tips in mind to give a good handshake:
- The interviewer should be the one to initiate the handshake.
- Stand and look the interviewer in the eye when you shake hands.
- Offer a sincere smile to show you are happy to be there.
- If your palm is damp, quickly blot it on the side of your pants or skirt before shaking hands.
- Greet the person with her name and a pleasantry, such as, “It is very nice to meet you, Ms. Smith.”
- Have a firm handshake, but do not apply too much force.
- The handshake should last between two and five seconds, which usually equals two or three pumps.
- Make sure your other hand is visible and unclenched.
4. Practice breathing techniques
When you get nervous, the blood flows away from your brain and into your muscles for fight or flight mode. This lack of blood in the brain can impact cognitive functions. However, when you take slow, deep breaths, you bring oxygen back to your brain to help you think.
For the most effective breathing technique to calm your nerves, follow these steps:
- Take a deep breath in through your nose.
- Try to take in enough air to feel your stomach expand.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth.
- Repeat this process three times, and focus on centering your thoughts while you are exhaling.
5. Calm your fidgeting
Fidgeting is a sign of nervousness. If you tend to tap your fingers or twirl your hair, practice keeping your hands on the table. You should also make a point not to keep a pen or paper in your hands if you typically fidget with anything you are holding. If you often shake your leg when you are nervous, you can keep your hands in your lap and apply a little pressure to remind yourself to stop shaking. Try asking a friend or family member to tell you how you fidget so you can be aware of your habits and work on them.
6. Prepare and rehearse your answers
One great way to showcase interview confidence is to prepare your answers to common interview questions. When you walk into an interview with the knowledge that you are prepared, it can take off the pressure and help you feel more confident. Consider sitting down with a friend or family member to think about your answers. They do not need to be memorized but aim to prepare enough so that you can produce responses you are proud of.
7. Talk slowly
Speak calmly and slowly. To stop yourself from rambling, try to answer each question by addressing one a point at a time.
Confident people also tend to take their time when answering questions. If you feel like you need a moment to compose your thoughts, feel free to say, “That is a good question. Let me think about that for a second.” Also, do not be afraid to ask the interviewer for clarification of the question.
8. Dress the part
Choosing the right outfit for your interview can help improve your confidence. Research the company’s dress code to see how you should dress for the interview. If the dress code is formal, men should wear a suit, and women should consider a pantsuit or skirt suit. Look for clothing in classic and neutral colors, such as black, navy or brown. If the company is casual, proper interview attire can include slacks, dark jeans, button-up shirts and polo shirts. When in doubt, it is wise to dress more formally.
9. Think positively
A final way to calm your nerves and boost your confidence is to think positively. One step you can take to think positively is to focus on areas where you lack confidence and practice making them better. Areas of low confidence can include:
- Shaking hands with the interviewer
- Starting the interview
- Beginning to speak
- Answering questions
Once you pinpoint where you feel most nervous, you can make a plan on how to address these areas. To work on the previous examples you can:
- Practice shaking hands with friends.
- Sit down for mock interviews with family.
- Record your mock interviews to review them.
- Practice answering different types of interview questions.