How to Stay Confident in an Interview

Job interviews can be stressful for job seekers. It's natural to have pre-interview nerves or lose confidence as you struggle with a difficult question from the interviewer. By preparing properly and having a few strategies in place though, you can build and maintain the confidence you need to go in strong and interview well.

How do I get rid of my nerves before an interview? Preparation.

Properly preparing for an interview will provide you with tools to maintain confidence during the interview. By following these essential tips, you can help to avoid losing confidence in the first place.

Bring copies

Print a copy of your application for yourself, the hiring manager, and for each interviewer. This includes your CV, cover letter, and job description. Having these documents in front of you can help jog your memory and provide you with an overview of your work history, and the points you made in your cover letter. It also provides a reference for what skills the company asked for in the job listing. This will make you seem organized, especially if the interviewers don't bring their own copies.

Prepare notes

You should bring a notebook to a job interview so you can take notes during the interview. You can also fill it with some key points to refer to while you're actually in the job interview, fielding questions. It demonstrates to the hiring managers that you're serious about the job and made a real effort to prepare for the interview, but it also arms you with things to fall back on if you stumble. List some answers to common questions, some key strengths and achievements, and anything you're worried you'll forget.

Prepare questions

Interviewers will always give you the chance to ask questions, and it's important to have a few ready to go. Coming up with them on the spot will cause you to lose momentum, and that's one way your confidence can falter, so prevent yourself from being caught off guard by listing a few your notebook that are easy to refer to. Preparation can also help combat impostor syndrome.

Manage your nerves

Going into an interview riddled with nerves is just going to send your confidence levels downhill fast. Try some of these tips and techniques to get rid of your nerves before an interview.

  • Body positioning: Stand in a power pose for 2 minutes, with your head high, chest puffed, shoulders back, and hands on hips. It's said that body positions can make you feel confident and calm.
  • Breathing techniques: There are tons of breathing techniques out there that are aimed at helping to calm the nervous system. Taking a series of slow, deep breath cycles can do wonders for your nerves.
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early: Avoid the stress of being late and flustered, or the awkwardness of arriving way too early. 10-15 minutes is the perfect window.
  • Eye contact: People prefer to maintain a level of eye contact at job interviews. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, try blinking more. If you have to give yourself a pep talk before the interview, do that. Just try to keep your body language and body positioning open if eye contact is hard.

How to stay confident in an interview

You can be as prepared as possible, but if you're thrown a curveball question or your nerves just get the better of you, your confidence can falter. Arm yourself with these tips and strategies to give yourself a little confidence boost when you need it.

Body language

What you do with your eyes, hands, how you position your body, all have effects on how confident you feel and how confident you look. Maintaining eye contact, smiling, and holding yourself up with good posture can be incredibly powerful ways to exude confidence throughout an interview. If the nerves creep in, do a quick body scan and think about what you can do to physically calm yourself. Often just sitting up straight and smiling can be enough to set you back on track.

Refer to your notes

You've gone to the effort of preparing notes, so use them! It may feel like cheating, but in most cases, an interview is not actually a test. You're allowed to look at your own notes, and taking a moment to do so might actually be the lifeboat you need when trying to answer a tough job question.

Could you please repeat the question?

Your mind can be all over the place during an interview, and you may find that you miss the question entirely. People aren't perfect, it's not the end of the world. Politely ask if the interviewer could repeat the question. This can also be a great way to buy yourself some extra thinking time.

When you don't understand the question

Similarly, you can ask the interviewer to clarify or rephrase a difficult question. If you still don't understand, or you're overwhelmed by the question, try not to lose your cool.

You have a couple of options. You can either attempt to answer and follow it up by asking "Does that answer your question?", which gives you a chance to redeem yourself if you've missed the mark. Or, you can ask to come back to the question later, which gives you a chance to take pause, regain some confidence, and move forward without blundering through an answer to one of the hardest interview questions you're not sure about.

Slow down, pause, take a breath

Avoid the temptation to rush through your answers and fill any silences. Pausing, speaking slowly and taking time with your responses shows confidence, and allows you to breathe. Breathing allows you to think clearly, and relax, which will in turn make you look and feel confident.

Practice these tips for your next interview, and see what works for you. With preparation and practice, you'll be able to deliver a confident interview and land your dream job.

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Dave Fano

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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