Rachelle J. Canter, Ph.D.
Fake it till you make it is actually good advice when you are looking for
a job, especially in the all-important job interview. If you don't convey
confidence in your experience and skills, why will a prospective employer?
And there's plenty of evidence from psychology that acting confidently is
the best way to feel more self-confident because our attitudes shift to be
consistent with our behavior.
Here are five tips for faking confidence in job interviews:
Tip #1: Prepare, prepare, prepare -- the only way to fake confidence you
don't feel is to prepare and practice strong answers for commonly asked
questions and good questions for the interviewer. Without preparation and
practice, you are likely to sound scared or rambling, neither one a route
to presenting a confident demeanor to an employer.
Tip #2: Ask bold questions. A relevant but bold question can be a way to
display confidence and simultaneously gather some useful information about
an employer. Interviewers are used to giving and receiving softball
questions like tell me about yourself. Instead of asking a softball
question like, "What are you looking for?", a question that is likely to
elicit a pat answer straight off the job description, ask, "do you have
any reservations about my ability to do this job?" This will startle an
employer, impress them with your confidence, and also probably yield an
honest answer. Then you have an opportunity to overcome any previously
unstated reservations about your candidacy. You win on all fronts.
Tip #3: Be proactive - volunteer specific examples important to an
employer, don't just wait for their questions. Most job-seekers use a
passive strategy in interviews: they respond to questions. By volunteering
information that builds your case, such as a relevant example or anecdote,
you not only provide an employer with useful information, you also show
your go-getter approach, another mark of confidence. For example, when
interviewing for a customer service position, volunteer information about
a specific instance in which you went beyond the norm to provide
Tip #4: Get inside information on the company and job through research and
networking. You'll make a more confident impression the better informed
you are about the job. Don't just rely on the job description in an ad.
That's just the starting point. Talk to people in your network to find
someone who knows someone in your target company. Your goal is to network
your way into the company for inside information on the company, the job,
the boss - anything that will help you prepare relevant examples of prior
work or smart questions for the interview. The ideal is to network your
way to the hiring manager and have someone who knows him or her put your
resume on the desk along with a personal endorsement. Even if you can't
network your way into some useful inside information, the Internet is
always a resource for recent articles about the company, its challenges
and opportunities, and its executives. Do the research, reap the benefits
of being informed and confident.
Tip #5: Tell the interviewer why they should hire you. Before you leave
any interview, tell the interviewer why you are the right person for the
job in hard-hitting, factual terms. Don't say anything like I need the
job, I have great skills, or I really want it. Instead, study the employer
and job's requirements and come up with relevant facts, such as: I have 10
years with your major competitor, I have experience in every facet of
production, from design through manufacturing, and I have redesigned
procedures that have saved the company 30% on each of my past three
production jobs. You tell them why you are the best person for the job and
you also demonstrate a winning confidence in doing so.