Google the phrase “confidence is,” and you’ll get several cute results. Confidence is sexy, confidence is key, and — my personal favorite — confidence is the new black.
Everyone has a clever way of communicating the value of confidence, but in an interview, there’s only one that matters: Confidence will make or break your chances of landing the job.
The minute you walk through the door, you show the interviewer how confident you are. Sweaty palms, a quivering voice, and an ill-fitting suit let him know one thing: This person doesn’t think a lot of himself, so maybe I shouldn’t either.
But if you want to land that dream job, you’ve got to convey confidence.
1. Dress to Kill: You need to look like someone with the confidence to kill it in an interview. William Shakespeare wrote that the clothes make the man (or woman), and image consultant and career coach Brenda Ferguson Hodges couldn’t agree more. “Hiring managers need to be able to visualize you in that position they are trying to fill,” she said. They can’t do that if you wear wrinkled or inappropriate clothing.
A flattering dress or a properly tailored suit can make you feel more powerful, which means you’ll project more confidence. But don’t add flashy accessories. Ladies, leave the distracting animal prints at home. (This is a job interview, not the Outback!) Guys, no giant gold chains or shirts with huge ’70s collars, even if they’re paired with a suit jacket.
You can, however, color outside the lines to make a statement. Looking for a leadership position? Wear a red tie with matching socks. Going for something creative? Branch out with brighter colors, such as yellow or orange. Seeking a position in a traditional business? Stick with simple colors that give you a timeless, professional look.
2. Say It Best When You Say Nothing at All: There’s a reason why numerous singers have had success in recording the song “When You Say Nothing at All.” Everyone relates to the power of body language in romance — and it works in business, too.
Before you introduce yourself, the interviewer has already assessed your body language. According to body language expert Patti Wood, people can exchange up to 10,000 nonverbal cues in less than one minute during a face-to-face interaction.
For example, holding your hands too high and reaching out makes you look like you’re begging and nervous, while placing your hands down by your sides makes you hunch over and look like you’re shying away from the interviewer.
Start your conversation with a genuine smile and a solid handshake to let your interviewer know you’re confident in your abilities and enthusiastic about what you can bring to the team. Walk the line between looking confident and coming across as aggressive, according to body language expert Mark Bowden.
Additionally, when you’re trying to get someone to like you when you meet him for the first time, sales coach Robert Evans suggests matching the “tempo” of that person and coming in slightly below his level. If he’s being energetic, be energetic (just not more energetic than him). If he’s being laid back, be laid back.
If you really want to send a message, sit on the edge of your seat. When we’re excited, we naturally move forward to project that we’re ready to jump on the opportunity. Also, don’t make your interviewer doubt your sincerity by dodging eye contact.
3. Do Your Homework: Remember that sinking feeling you’d get when you’d forgotten to do your homework? Being in an interview without prior knowledge of the company is just like that. But this time, your career and financial future are on the line. You’ll feel more confident if you have a cheat sheet in your back pocket.
When my younger brother applied for a job at Costco, we practiced his interview countless times until he knew the company’s history, competitive advantages, and selling points. If you’re informed about the company, you’ll be perceived as easy to train and a good culture fit.
It takes time to develop confidence. As you prepare, ask a friend to help you role-play the entire process. The more you practice, the more confident and relaxed you’ll feel during the interview. The same goes for your appearance. Don’t wait until the last minute to choose your outfit. The more natural you act and look, the more confident you’ll seem.
Do you have any confidence-boosting tips I missed?
Matthew Arrington is the executive director and co-founder of Forte Strong, the world’s first failure-to-launch program for men who struggle to leave their parents’ home or find it difficult to become independent. Forte Strong uses a proprietary coaching model to help students find purpose and direction, guide parents and families in empowering their sons, and ultimately create a healthier family dynamic. Matthew currently resides in sunny St. George, Utah.