By Helen Sanchez

Confidence is key! 

Here’s how you can increase your confidence and step confidently into an interview for your dream job or promotion.

Being confident is essential for your success, and knowing your strengths and what you are good at can help you build your confidence.

Merriam-Webster defines confidence as “a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something.”

Highlighting and discussing the value you bring to an organization helps you stand out. It will help you get that job, get high marks on a performance review, or win that promotion. But to do this, you must know what that value is, and you must identify your strengths to be able to share them. You can accomplish this by taking time to reflect on your previous work accomplishments and identify the skills you used to achieve success. You’ll be ready to affirm your value to a potential employer or your current boss. Then share stories that reflect your strengths, how you used those strengths, and the measurable outcome. This reflection will help you to build or reinforce your confidence.

Perceived Value, Self-Belief & Confidence

As their own harshest critics, women measure themselves based on achieving perfection and often do not fully understand their strengths and fail to build their confidence with that awareness. Several years ago, Hewlett-Packard reviewed their personnel records and found that men applied for promotions when they were comfortable when they met only 60% of the job requirements. In contrast, women only applied when they perceived that they met 100% of the requirements listed for the job. As Hewlett-Packard discovered, women often fail to see the full value of their experience, devaluing their strength in soft skills or areas that are critically important to the job. It isn’t necessary to meet all the requirements to go for it!

Their lack of confidence is understandable when we think about how often women, especially facing ageism, are overlooked for training sessions or input during meetings or not considered at all for promotions. Yet, women have so much to offer that they really need to think about everything they have done. Women do so many professional and personal things and do not think about how much they have accomplished. They take for granted that when given a job, they figure out how to get it done. They do whatever it takes. Whatever the task is, they succeed at getting it done. These tasks and accomplishments represent all of the successes for women, and they have to ‘wear’ that success – that’s confidence.

Confident people, whether women or men, tend to be listened to admired more. That self-assurance taken to an interview can be invaluable. Cameron Anderson, a psychologist at the University of California, has studied confidence and stated, “When people are confident when they think they are good at something, regardless of how good they actually are, they display a lot of confident nonverbal and verbal behavior.”

When we evaluate our strengths and accomplishments, we become aware of our successes and our value. This knowledge and genuine belief that we have valuable skills give us true confidence, which comes across when we interview. When we exude true confidence based on self-belief, it provides us with a strength that brings admiration from our interviewer.

Interviews can make any one of us nervous and anxious. One of the ways to overcome that nervousness is to be fully prepared to confidently answer questions that show examples of your value and skills to contribute to their success. Research the company you are interviewing with to fully understand how you can help them. Then, you can show them that your skills are appropriate for their needs and passionate about their mission; you have to research the company, the role, and the interviewer. Once you have done your research, you must practice, practice, practice. Being prepared is a sure-fire way to increase your confidence.

Building Confidence for Your Interview Step-by-step!

So how indeed do we build the confidence necessary to present ourselves as a strong, valuable addition to an organization? We start with research on ourselves and our experience.

Self-evaluation: Your Strengths & Skills

Try this exercise. Sit down with a blank paper and your resume. Take each job you’ve had and evaluate what skills you have used and your accomplishments at each organization. Think in detail about your day-to-day responsibilities, about projects you worked on, and about teams you partnered with, or you may have managed.

Dig deeper; what were you tasked with, and how did you handle it? I am sure there were challenges in your professional journey, so how did you overcome those challenges? What problems were you confronted with, and how did you solve them? If you have a gap in your professional experience, what did you do during that time? Did you volunteer? Were you a caregiver? Did you parent? All of these jobs require skills that are important to your professional experience. So think about whether you managed medical bills, volunteered to organize class trips, or did administrative work with a non-profit. Ask your friends or co-workers what they think are your strengths. You may be surprised by some responses because you didn’t realize you had those strengths.

All of your transferable skills highlight your value; include these on your list of skills and experience. Once you have completed your self-evaluation and compiled a list of all of your achievements & skills that you can add to your resume, it is time for the next phase of your preparation.

Gaining Insight: Interview Preparation

Research the Organization

The next step is specific to your job application or interview preparation. You should research the organization and the particular job you are applying to. You should find the organization’s website a treasure trove of information. What is their mission? What are their challenges? Are they growing? Are they creating a new product? Click on their about page or their investor page to learn more information. Knowing as much as you can about the organization will give you the confidence to engage in conversation during an interview, relate your skills and experience specific to their needs, and ask appropriate questions.

Research Roles and People

You can also do some searches on LinkedIn and find people in the organization or people in the industry doing the job you are seeking. You can message them and ask if you might get some insight from their expertise on what it took for them to be successful in the role. You can confidently interview after doing all of this research, knowing that you have the information needed to do well.

Practice, practice, practice!

The final step in your preparation is practicing. You can never practice too much. You can rehearse responses to expected interview questions and rehearse the stories you have developed based on the results of your self-evaluation. You can practice in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone. Practice will help you to feel comfortable sharing the information you’ve developed. After recording your practice interview, listen to it and self-critique your performance, or ask friends to review the recording and give you some feedback.

Building your confidence and preparing for a successful job search involves work. Still, the rewards will be worthwhile when you find what you are looking for.

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