You know those people who can just stroll into an interview, and walk out smiling, proudly with job in hand? Yeah, they’re the worst. For most of the population, this isn’t the case and, just like exams, interviews can have you choking and sweating with fear and anxiety; confidence is nowhere in sight. But it isn’t about becoming more confident overnight. You can make small changes to how to approach a job interview, which can make you seem more confident, even if you aren’t. So here are six surefire ways to build (or feign) confidence before and during a graduate job interview:
1) Be mindful and kind beforehand
Turn to yourself and say: “How can I look after myself from now until the interview?” It might mean going to bed earlier, allowing yourself an hour of me-time, eating a healthy meal the night before and/or having a substantial breakfast rather than a rushed coffee on the way. It all helps in building confidence in your ability to care for yourself which, in turn, will help you to speak positively and confidently about your achievements during the interview. Many will cringe at the idea of bigging themselves up, but how else are interviewers supposed to get an idea of your talent? Be kind to yourself by putting your best foot forward - you deserve this.
2) Try to make the interviewers like you, not your CV
What type of person do you prefer? Someone who is kind and makes you feel at ease, or someone who talks about themselves constantly? It’s probably the former, and it’s likely the interviewer will feel the same. Building rapport - be it a client, colleague or, classmate relationship - is far more important that showing off. Rather than trying to pretend you’re really self-confident, simply speak about your achievements, but concentrate on connecting with the people sat in front of you. Ask questions, smile, and engage with what they say.
3) Try meditation or breathing exercises beforehand
What do confident people have in common? They’re relaxed; they feel comfortable in their environment. Easier said than done, right? Well, luckily, breathing exercises and meditation techniques are excellent for keeping calm and relaxed in the face of nerves. Plus, if you get used to the benefits and ease of simply allowing yourself to breathe deeply, you’ll set yourself up for future times of stress - this interview included.
4) Imagine succeeding and stay positive
Your go-to strategy for avoiding disappointment might be imagining the worst. But why are you wasting your energy on picturing the worst thing that could happen, rather than the best? You’re still going to be disappointed by rejection, whether you’d imagine it or not. So, instead, give yourself a confidence boost by imagining a fantastic interview, followed by a job offer; positive thinking is extremely helpful in building confidence.
5) Adopt a power pose
Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power poses tells us “open” body language and “power poses” are essential for displaying/faking confidence. The opposite is “small” body language, used when we feel powerless, or cower in the face of another’s confident and open posture. She asserts that, in the same way a smile made from holding a pencil in your mouth makes you happier, adopting a more confident pose can do the same - make us feel more confident, even if we aren’t.
The confident leaders of our society have high levels of testosterone, but low levels or cortisol (the stress hormone). Cuddy’s results suggest that, whilst adopting a confident, powerful pose, your testosterone levels rise, and cortisol lowers - after just two minutes. In practice, subjects were put through a tough job interview, while adopting either a powerful or low-level pose. And, guess which participants were more present, engaged, and enthusiastic? Now it’s your turn.
6) Embrace your anxiety (rather than panic about it)
Which internal dialogue sounds better for boosting confidence?
“Oh god, I’m feeling so anxious, everyone will be able to tell. I need to stop worrying. Aaaaaah.”
“Oh, hi anxiety. I see you’re back again - right on time, too. Should we get on with this interview and then celebrate with a glass of wine later?”
Yes, it seems easier said than done - and a bit silly - but try it. Stop that snowball of stress as early on as you can. Stand your ground and greet your anxiety with a smile, just like you would a person you know. Because you do know your anxiety, so don’t waste time trying to stifle it. Just smile and walk alongside it.
Lizzi Hart is a linguistics graduate and a marketing assistant at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau
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