How to Appear Confident in a Job Interview, Even When You’re Not
Few people relish being interviewed, but it is a non-negotiable part of almost any application process.
Unfortunately, because healthcare professionals tend to change employers less frequently than those in other sectors, many medics feel they are under practised in interviews. This can lead to a lack of confidence when interviews are necessary – and that lack of confidence can come across as a lack of competence.
Whether you are uncomfortable talking yourself up or simply don’t like the dynamic of the situation, it is totally natural to feel a little intimidated or nervous about being interviewed. But it’s also important to develop ways to cope with that lack of confidence and signal a greater level of self-belief than you might, in reality, possess.
There are two basic elements to this: preparing properly, and presenting yourself in the best possible way during the interview. Here are four tips for each which, when combined, will ensure you appear totally confident – even when you’re not:
Before the interview
1. Research and reflect on the role
Any candidate should have a solid understanding of the role they are applying for, but undertaking further research – learning about the organisation, speaking to other employees or even accessing performance reports via HR – can go a long way.
Deeper knowledge of the role will empower you to ask strong, relevant questions – which is a great way to appear confident and forthright. It will also allow you to better tailor your answers to the specific requirements of the job.
Top tip: it is surprisingly easy to find people who have worked in roles similar to the one you are applying for, and message them via LinkedIn. Try asking them for advice: you may be surprised how many replies you receive, and how useful those insights can be.
2. Prepare a strong CV
Knowing that your CV is strong will immediately improve your general confidence, creating a good pre-impression on your interviewer. It will also help you practise talking about yourself dispassionately and with authority, which many people find embarrassing or awkward.
For an in-depth discussion on how to craft a killer CV, click here.
3. Anticipate and rehearse your responses
Interview anxiety often relates to a fear of being caught off guard or getting tongue tied over an answer. one of the most effective ways to dispel this anxiety is to anticipate as many possible lines of questioning as possible, and prepare for whatever angle the interviewer might take with you.
One approach is simply to do as much research as possible, to prepare for whatever technical questions happen to be presented. But this can cause candidates to feel stressed, and ultimately appear flustered during the interview.
Instead, use your research of the role to anticipate as many questions relevant to the role as possible, and prepare answers which demonstrate both your personal qualities and technical prowess.
Top tip: rather than rehearsing specific answers, try to rehearse general arguments.
This will leave you room to answer in a more spontaneous way on the day, but ensure that you recall all the information you need in order to ‘sell’ yourself.
4. Know yourself
The best way to gain confidence is becoming secure in who you are. Before any interview, you should therefore take some time for introspection. This doesn’t mean aimlessly thinking about yourself; it means actively considering what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what merits you can honestly claim to bring to the organisation.
Having clarity about these things will help give you an air of decisiveness and make you appear self-controlled – a hugely appealing trait in any employee.
Top tip: spend 15-20 minutes writing (preferably in long hand) about the job you are applying for and why you are suited to it. This will help focus your thoughts about the job as well as making you feel more at ease talking about yourself.
During the interview
1. Make eye contact (especially when you are speaking)
Eye contact is vital for good communication: not only does it create trust, it also signals that you are present and attentive to the person you are talking to. Too often, candidates simply wish to rattle off facts or automated responses to questions.
Giving eye contact when you speak can be particularly difficult – which is ironic, because this is the time when it is most important. Looking into your interview’s eyes, even just for a few seconds, will give your statements more weight and make them subconsciously trust you more.
Top tip: If you find it difficult to give eye contact, try looking between your interviewer’s eyes: this will feel far less intense to you, but will give the impression that you are looking directly into your interviewer’s eyes.
2. Relax your body
Body language is a hugely important cue for interviewers, and appearing fidgety or nervous will not help you appear in a good light.
When you sit down, take the time to find a comfortable posture. Straighten your back, loosen your shoulders and relax: this will not only help you feel more at ease, it will send more positive signals to your interviewer.
Top tip: Many candidates find their nervous energy expresses itself most clearly in their hands, so finding a non-distracting way of occupying your hands when you talk can be invaluable.
3. Talk slowly and listen carefully
Nothing projects confidence more than slow, deliberate speech: it is more authoritative, and it allows you time to fully absorb what is being asked and respond properly.
Related to this is listening: make sure that you fully comprehend what is being asked, and if necessary ask for clarification. While this might seem like pedantry, it will actually signal to your interviewer that you are switched on and actively engaged with what they are saying.
Top tip: Don’t be afraid of silence: it may feel awkward at first, but being comfortable taking a moment to consider your answer demonstrates seriousness.
4. Learn, remember and use your interviewer’s name
This may feel like a relatively small point, but addressing your interview by their name is a severely under-appreciated way of instantly creating greater rapport and appearing more confident.
When greeting your interviewer, make sure to take note of their name, and use it throughout the interview. This shouldn’t feel forced; the whole point is for it to feel honest and authentic.