How To Be Confident In A Job Interview (Even If You’re Not)

By Maddie Lloyd - Mar. 10, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

After the long and painful process of job hunting, you’ve finally gotten an interview with the job of your dreams.

You’ve probably spent countless hours researching the company, picking out your interview outfit, and learning all about how to make a great first impression at the interview. But after all that work, you’re still nervous about looking confident.

Here’s the deal:

While interviewers can’t exactly smell fear, there are a lot of things you can do that will either give away that you’re a nervous wreck or show that you’re confident and perfect for the job.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to look confident in an interview, even if you’re not.

Why Confidence in an Interview Is Important

Confidence plays a big role in your interview performance. When you trust yourself, others around you naturally have an easier time trusting you. And since an interview is all about determining whether the company can trust you to do a good job, it’s downright essential that you don’t appear unsure of yourself.

To be clear, hiring managers and recruiters understand that interviews are anxiety-inducing and are willing to overlook a few interview jitters. Of course, if you’re applying for a high-pressure and/or client-facing role, then there will be greater expectations for applicants to appear calm, collected, and even personable.

But for most roles, a dash of nervousness is A-okay; it’s when you present as entirely unreliable due to excessive confidence issues that interviewers really take notice.

While you may think confidence is something you’re either born with or aren’t, it’s simply not true. Sure, some are naturally more comfortable in their skin, but confidence is a skill; the more you practice it, the better you get. It’s also a skill where “fake it ’til you make it” really applies.

How to Be Confident in an Interview

  1. Use breathing techniques. The key to exuding confidence is to show that you’re cool, calm, and collected. Breathing and mindfulness exercises are a great way to keep your cool and think with a clear head.

    While you’re waiting for your interviewer, focus on taking deep breaths, and maybe try counting them. This will give you the chance to refocus on your strengths and qualifications instead of how nervous you are.

    Plus, when you get super nervous and forget to breathe, it makes it even harder to speak and tell the interviewer all about how great you are. So do yourself a favor, and focus on your breathing.

    Breathing deeply also helps oxygenate the blood (and most importantly, the brain). To help fully relax before the interview, try taking deep breaths through your nose until your stomach expands, then slowly release through your mouth.

    Try to keep a clear mind throughout the process, and allow thoughts and anxieties that pop up to fade away, without judging yourself for having them.

  2. Don’t be fidgety. Nervous fidgeting is a dead giveaway that you’re nervous or scared, so you’re going to have to really pay attention to your body language.

    During the interview, keep your hands together on the table or in your lap so they don’t start tapping, twirling your hair, or squirming in another awkward way. Make sure not to shake your legs or your feet. If you’re not sure what your nervous ticks are, ask close friends and family so you can be more self-aware.

    Oh, and leave the fidget spinners at home. But by all means, hold onto that pen you’re using to take notes if it makes you feel comfortable to have something in your hands. Just don’t tap the table with it or chew on the end of it.

  3. Make eye contact. If you can’t keep yourself from looking down, looking around, and just not looking the interviewer in the eyes, they’ll know that you’re either super anxious, or you have something to hide.

    Even if you’re extremely nervous and absolutely unconfident, a great way to fake it is to keep steady, natural eye contact with your interviewer. Being engaged and present during an interview is a great way to show that you’re self-assured and confident in your qualifications.

    If you feel awkward staring someone in the eyes, or you can’t figure out how to look at both eyes at once, focus on the spot between their eyes.

    On the other hand, you don’t want to be creepy — take natural breaks to look down at your resume every once in a while; just don’t spend the entire interview looking down.

  4. Try to make a connection with your interviewer. Instead of just doing everything you can to impress them, try to make a genuine connection with your interviewer. You don’t have to form a deep, lifelong bond with your interviewer; just make sure to show them that you’re likable and have great interpersonal skills.

    To connect with your interviewer, make some light small talk. Ask them questions about themselves, mention something about the job or the company, or just make a witty observation.

    Showing that you’re able to be friendly and personable during a time when you’re constantly being judged for every single thing you do is a great way to show that you have loads of self-confidence.

  5. Research the company. This is just good interview advice, regardless of your confidence levels. But if you’re feeling nervous, remember that knowledge is power. The more you know about the company, the position, and your interviewer, the better you’ll feel walking through the door.

    Plus, you want to impress interviewers, and knowing all about their culture, values, and expectations for the role will help you craft answers that present you as a great cultural fit and valuable employee.

  6. Don’t be afraid of silences and don’t rush through your answers. It’s a natural habit to ramble and talk about nothing when we’re feeling nervous — and once we get started, it can be hard to stop.

    Silences can be uncomfortable, especially when we’re trying to impress someone. That’s when we start to get into the danger zone. You don’t want to say anything off-topic or self-incriminating.

    A good way to avoid rambling is to speak slowly, instead of rushing to get your answers out. That way, you have time to focus on your answers. It’s okay if there’s a bit of a pause between your answer and the next question — and it’s much better than a heap of embarrassing word vomit.

  7. Practice your answers beforehand. This is a great way to soothe your interview jitters and have confidence seeping out of your pores. Preparing to answer the most common interview questions and having your answers ready will take the pressure off and help you to stay calm.

    Remember to focus your answers on your skills, experience, education, and personal qualities that will help you succeed in the position. Make sure to have stories and examples to show off how you’ve used your qualifications in the past.

    Try to think of professional stories for commonly-asked categories of interview questions (accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses, conflict resolution, career goals, etc.)

    That way, you’ll not only have a great attitude, but you’ll be able to back it up.

  8. Have a positive attitude. Speaking of attitudes, make sure you have a good one. Thinking positively about the interview and having a bright outlook will show on your face.

    Employers like people who have a positive outlook, and having a smile and an upbeat attitude will tell interviewers that you’re excited, you’re prepared, and most of all — you’re confident.

    Remind yourself that you deserve to be there. If you weren’t worthy of an interview, you never would have been invited. Think about all of your awesome qualifications and pump yourself up for the interview.

  9. Give yourself a pep-talk. It’s easy to beat ourselves up over little things when we’re feeling stressed out. Instead of calling yourself a “big ol’ dummy” for feeling nervous, be nice to yourself!

    Before you go into the interview, tell yourself out loud all of the reasons why you deserve the job: You have all the right qualifications, you’re smart, and you’re a hard worker.

    Giving yourself this pep talk won’t just give you that positive attitude we’ve been talking about, it will also help you sell yourself to employers — and interviews are all about selling yourself as best as you can.

  10. Picture yourself succeeding. This one might sound kind of silly, but actually imagining how successful you’re going to be at your interview can give a boost to your self-esteem.

    Before you go into the interview, picture what a successful interview looks like: walking into the room with your head held high, shaking hands with the interviewer (no sweaty hands), and answering the questions confidently with the responses you’ve practiced.

    If you can see yourself being successful, it will make it easier for you to follow through and ease your interview anxiety.

  11. Acknowledge your anxiety instead of suppressing it. Instead of trying to bury your nervousness deep down in your shoes, you should just acknowledge your anxious feelings and make peace with them.

    Say to yourself, “I’m feeling anxious for my interview, and that’s okay! I will still be confident and successful.”

    It might sound crazy, but making peace with your anxiety instead of trying to overpower it will help you better understand your nervous feelings and deal with them more effectively.

  12. Change your perception. One of the reasons we lack confidence and feel nervous in an interview is that we perceive the interviewer as a threat. That’s why those uncomfortable fight or flight responses (sweaty palms, dry mouth, etc.) kick in.

    The trick is to reframe the experience. You’re not being interrogated; you’re just having a conversation with a fellow adult about the possible mutual benefits of beginning a professional relationship.

    A job interview is a chance for the hiring manager or recruiter to learn more about candidates, sure. But it’s also a chance for candidates to learn more about the company.

    Take time to understand if the role suits your interests, the company’s culture gels well with your personality and work style, and if you’d enjoy spending 40 hours a week in this place.

  13. Dress like a boss. Having the right interview outfit can go a long way toward boosting your confidence. Figure out a dress code based on your company research (or just call and ask) so you can dress in a way that matches the company’s culture.

    Also, take care to have your hair looking nice, your clothes clean and unwrinkled, and your odor fresh (but not overwhelmingly like perfume or cologne). All these things will naturally make you feel more confident as you meet your interviewer.

  14. Ask questions. Never say “no” when the hiring manager asks if you have any questions at the end of an interview. Coming up with some questions before the interview is great, and asking them at the end is essential.

    But to really come across as a confident candidate, pepper questions throughout the interview. For starters, it will make you appear engaged, thoughtful, and already imagining yourself in the job (which will help the interviewer see things the same way).

    It’s more than that, though. When you ask questions, you flip the script and make it so the interviewer has to impress you, not the other way around. That can do a lot to boost your confidence and help level the playing field. Just don’t overwhelm the interviewer with questions — you are the interviewee, after all.

Final Thoughts

We all get nervous before interviews. If the thought of interviewing for your dream job makes your stomach do backflips, you’re not alone.

That doesn’t mean you should let your anxiety get the best of you. Even if you’re not feeling confident, it’s simply a matter of faking it ‘til you make it.

Just follow these tips and you’ll be sure to come off as confident, make a great impression on the interviewer, and land the job.

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Author

Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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