Build Your Confidence
1) Research, Research, Research
“Why do you want to work here?” “What about our company appeals to you?” “What do you know about our company?”
Can you imagine not having an answer prepared for these questions?
Once your interview appointment is set, spend at least 20-30 minutes researching your potential employer. What is the company’s philosophy? Do they do any charity work? What kind of projects do they complete? What do they value?
Whether it’s at home, school, or your local library, get online and learn as much as you can. Find a company website, social media platforms, and news articles. You might even know a current or past employee—access their experience too! As you research, think to yourself, “Why am I a good fit here?” and “What can I offer that will help this company?”.
2) Practice, Practice, Practice
After researching the company, list questions you think they might ask in the interview. If you are too shy to do a practice interview with someone you know, practice your responses in a quiet spot.
Here are a few of many resources to help you prepare:
- Check out the 10 or 20 Common question activities on the Interview Skills page.
- If the style of interview is identified, the balance careers’ article Types of Job Interviews will help.
3) Prepare to Ask Questions
At the end of the interview, you are very likely to be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer(s). Preparing a few well-thought-out questions demonstrates your interest in the company and can make an extra positive impression. Think back to your research about the company and consider what you would like to learn more about. You could ask specifics about a project that interests you, information about a person’s career journey, or charity and community work that the company values.
Check out this Forbes article for more insight and examples.
4) Prepare What You Will Wear
Rules on what to wear for a job interview have shifted over the past few years. Do you need a formal three-piece suit? Likely not. Just be sure to put some thought into how you are going to present yourself.
One approach is to think of what you would likely wear to your first meeting as an employee and step it up one notch (i.e. casual work environment = business casual meeting attire).
No matter what:
- Make sure you present yourself in a neat, clean way.
- Make sure your clothes are ready to go the night before the interview. You don’t want to have to scramble through your closet an hour before your interview only to pull out a stained, wrinkly shirt you wanted to wear!
“You’d better read” Bret Silverberg’s “Before you dress for your next job interview, you’d better read this” on Monster.com.
5) Positive Impressions to All
Everyone you encounter before, during, and after your interview can influence the outcome. Be courteous and polite to all: the office manager, the parking attendant, people on the elevator, etc.
Also, showing that you are prepared goes a long way to solidifying a positive impression. You definitely do not want an excuse to be your first impression so:
- Plan to arrive early—especially in case an obstacle arises (i.e. limited parking, stuck in traffic, late bus).
- Bring a copy of your resume and a notepad—even though you may not need them.
- Turn off your phone to avoid unnecessary and unprofessional distractions.
6) Positive Presentation
Over 10 years ago, the SIEC’s Relevance Magazine (link) contained this tip:
Self-confidence is very attractive. Even if you’re nervous, offer a firm (not painful) handshake, sit up straight, keep your hands out of your pockets, make eye contact and smile.
These points are timeless, and most are especially important if your interview is online!
7) Positive Responses
Interviewers will sometimes ask a question focused on something negative: “What is your greatest weakness?”, “What did you dislike about your previous job?”, “When have you worked with someone who made a project difficult?”
No matter the question, always turn a negative into a positive. You should:
- Show how you are developing a weakness into a strength.
- Avoid badmouthing a previous employee or supervisor. Focus on how you worked to improve any tough situation.
- Focus on how you worked proactively with others to ensure a project was successful.
Read more on keeping it positive in this article from careerconvergence.org.
8) Positive Wrap up and Follow Up
Project your positivity and confidence from the beginning of the process (an initial email or phone conversation) all the way to the end.
- Whether in-person or online, thank your interviewer (and all others you encounter), smile, make eye contact, and provide another good handshake if applicable.
- Your work is not done! Follow up by emailing a thank you to your interviewer(s). If you do not receive a response from the company in a reasonable timeframe, you can phone and ask for some feedback on your interview. This will demonstrate your drive, and even if you are unsuccessful, you can apply their advice to future opportunities. After all, the more practice you have, the more confident and (likely) successful you will be in the future.