If you haven’t had a lot of experience with job interviews, it can seem like there’s a lot to absorb. You may feel that there are an endless list of questions you’ll need to prepare for and a large number of applicants you’re competing against. Don’t let these ideas overwhelm you—it’s important to keep perspective in order to remain and appear confident in your job interview.

It’s true, there may be many other qualified individuals seeking the same job you are. The fact is though, if you’ve been invited in for an interview, your resume or application lines up with the company’s needs. You should feel confident for this reason and express it during your interview for best results; in other words, don’t worry about the things you can’t control.

What you can control is how you speak, how you act, and what you say. Confidence is displayed in many fashions, and it’s a crucial must if you hope to earn a job offer. The most important thing to remember is that confidence is natural for some, but it can absolutely be developed with effort. When you enter the interview confidently, you’ll feel much more prepared to deal with those oddball questions and you’ll be solely focused on your own success.

Start Off on the Right Foot

They say that you only get one chance to make a first impression, and that’s an important piece of knowledge when approaching a job interview. Appearing confident begins with your introduction, and factors into each element of your greeting:

  • Smile! An interviewer who gets the impression that you’re displeased to be there probably won’t expect you to have a great attitude as an employee, either.

  • Make eye contact—this is important throughout the conversation as well, but doubly so when you first meet. Averting eye contact makes you seem nervous or evasive, so make a good connection to show that you’re invested.

  • Beware the dead fish handshake. You might not think that such a simple gesture could mean very much, but your handshake is one of the first non-verbal indicators of your commitment and confidence.

    Do your best to show up to any job interview 5-10 minutes early. Running late or even showing up at the last minute is not a great way to impress a hiring manager, and it will probably leave you feeling frazzled and uncollected.

    Acing the Interview

    Now that you’ve had a positive introduction to the person who will be interviewing you, take that momentum and run with it. Although it often starts from within, practicing the habits of confident individuals can also build your natural confidence quite rapidly. Keep these ideas in mind:

  • Slumping shoulders, looking down, and fumbling with your hands are signs of uneasiness. Keep your head up, your shoulders back, and fold your hands neatly on the table or in your lap to appear more confident.

  • As mentioned above, eye contact is very important to appearing genuine and confident. You don’t need a fixed tractor beam-like gaze at all times, but you do need to make it clear you’re engaged when being asked and responding to questions.

  • Your manner of speaking tells a lot about your confidence level. Speaking at a low volume makes you difficult to hear and suggests a lack of conviction in what’s being said. With that in mind, you don’t need to shout or over-project to get your point across.

    Another important aspect of your speech is maintaining a mature conversational tone. It’s okay to feel casual and comfortable, but it’s not a good idea to communicate with an interviewer the way you’d speak with friends. Try to avoid frequent use of filler words, such as “like” or “um”. It probably won’t be possible to completely correct these kinds of habits, but focus on working them out of your vocabulary when speaking in a professional context.

    Similarly, avoid slang, profanity, and unfocused speaking. It’s always a good idea to provide thoughtful responses in job interviews but don’t lose track of the purpose of the conversation. Your goal is to show why you’re a good candidate for the job, not to talk about yourself excessively or bury your interviewer in chit-chat.

    Job interviews take time to get used to, so don’t be afraid to ask friends or relatives for input and assistance. Consider printing out or jotting down some common interview questions and ask someone to run through them with you. You may be surprised at just how confident you can feel with a little practice.

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