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How to Be Confident – Not Arrogant – In a Job Interview

arrogant job interview

You walk into the office wearing your best, navy blue suit. You’ve got your shoes shined, a fresh haircut, and your lucky socks.

You are so confident that everyone else waiting to interview is in complete awe. They’re trembling in their seats.

Now it’s time for you to step up, give the hiring manager the firmest handshake he has ever received, and make every other interview in the history of interviews look like child’s play.

Does this pre-interview ritual/mental pep-talk sound familiar?

It’s important to get psyched up before a job interview. After all, we need to demonstrate complete confidence, right?


But job seekers need to be aware of the turning point where confidence becomes arrogance. In the excitement of the interview, it’s hard to notice the moment where you begin insulting the interviewer or the company.

“Candidates should not be so hung up on demonstrating their intelligence and value that they forget to be genuine,” says Sara Farkas, Ivy Exec’s Director of Strategic Development for Management Consulting. At the end of the day, companies want to hire people they like to be around and will fit in with the current team. Arrogance can undermine your likability.

Here are 4 moments that exist in most interviews where confidence can become arrogance.

Dodging the Greatest Weakness/Failure Questions

It’s likely to come up. Hiring managers love to throw out the question “what is your greatest weakness?” And some interviewees like to meet it with the rejoinder: “My only weakness is that I work too hard.” Avoid this cliché at all costs.

Nobody is without some form of weakness, and that’s ok. Use this opportunity to show that you are confident enough to admit you have shortcomings and that you are working to improve upon them.

“Nothing makes a candidate stand apart more than when they are able to demonstrate that they are capable, intelligent, and can learn from past mistakes,” says Farkas. Answering: “Tell me about a time when you failed,” is another opportunity to show that you can roll with the punches and come out stronger. Dodge this question and you risk sending the message that you believe you’ve never failed, or you never learned from the failures you are trying to cover up.

Taking All the Credit

People want to hire a team player, not a lone wolf. When discussing your previous achievements, acknowledge and provide credit to your teammates. You want to create the image of someone in the trenches working with their team – not someone alone in a corner office taking credit for other’s work.

Using “we” instead of “I” shows respect for others while still allowing you to talk about the quality of your work. After you acknowledge your team, shift the focus to the results of your individual contributions.

Also read: The Top 5 Things Recruiters Want

Pointing Out All The Problems

You’ve got a list of 5 things you believe need to be changed, and you can’t wait to present your ideas to the hiring manager.

You are expected to have suggestions for improvements and examples of how you have tackled similar problems in the past. But how you deliver this information is as important as the quality of your ideas.

People take pride in their work. By speaking critically of the company, its processes, or products, you are directly talking about the person in charge of them (likely to be the hiring manager).

To avoid this, stop thinking in terms of criticisms (even constructive criticisms). Instead, offer suggestions for improvements. For example: “I really like ‘X’ about the product. One thing that I think could make it even better is Y. At my previous company, I introduced Z to our product, and it increased sales by $$$.”

Not Being Prepared With Questions

It may not be your intention, but if you don’t have questions prepared, you risk coming across as someone who thinks they know everything. “Employers want to know that the candidate is genuinely interested in the opportunity they are being interviewed for,” says Farkas. By asking insightful questions, you demonstrate your interest in the role, as well as show you are thinking critically about if it is appropriate for you.

Need inspiration?
Use this list of great questions to ask in the interview.


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