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How to Master the “Humble Brag” During Job Interviews

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Here’s the issue: You need to come across in the strongest possible light during a job interview. And yet, it won’t make a good impression if you spend the entire conversation talking about yourself. You may be an incredible negotiator, but if you describe in detail all your successful transactions, the interviewer’s eyes will glaze over. “It’s just bragging,” they’ll probably think—and that can make them skeptical about the reality of your claims.

To communicate your qualifications without the bravado, you need to try another route: the “humble brag.”

3 Tips for Projecting Confidence During a Job Interview—Without Seeming Arrogant

1. Use the resume as a jumping-off point for storytelling.

Think of your resume as a hook. Don’t waste time recounting your responsibilities at the various jobs you’ve held. Instead, start by framing the larger impact of what you’ve accomplished at each role in a few opening sentences. This is more engaging than listing every job duty you’ve fulfilled. It also speaks to the points the interviewer is most interested in understanding—what you can do to support the company’s overall objectives.

Next, create bullet points for each position that highlight your actions. Mix it up—every bullet point doesn’t need to have a metric attached to it. To avoid sounding formulaic, you can describe what challenges you faced, the initiatives you developed, or that “in the trenches” partnership you negotiated to keep the business unit solvent. When you add contextual details like this to your resume, you give a reader reference points that help them fully appreciate your work.

Now that you have an outline for your resume, think about your most important professional accomplishments. Ask yourself which of these have a great story attached to them. When you’re in an interview and asked to describe your background, segue into one of these stories. This kind of approach is all about “show, don’t tell.” You’re not rambling about the qualities that make you a compelling candidate. Instead, you’re letting the interview infer those qualities based on the actions you describe through narrative. This strategy is far more persuasive and memorable than saying “I’m detail-oriented,” or “I’m a strong leader.”

2. Give context to your journey by describing the struggles you’ve overcome.

job interviewDo you feel like you need to be perfect during a job interview? Try to break away from this false paradigm. Talk openly about how you’ve responded to professional setbacks. For example, don’t craft some phony answer about why things didn’t work out at your last job. Instead, admit to feeling disappointed, and then pivot the conversation to explain what you learned from the experience and how it changed you. Hardship drives transformation. Share with the interviewer your vision of where you want to go next—and how it relates to their company.

This honesty will help you build rapport, and it demonstrates self-confidence. Only someone who is accomplished and secure with their performance will be comfortable discussing the obstacles they’ve faced in their career. This approach leads to a more productive conversation that invites the interviewer to get to know the real you—and that candor will also make them want to work with you.

3. Look for opportunities to disagree with the interviewer.

Some interviewers aren’t going to be convinced, regardless of how much “humble bragging” you do. It’s nothing personal—they just don’t take anything at face value. The best way to reach these individuals is to showcase your value by challenging their point of view with a smart outside perspective.

If the interviewer explains the company’s plan to move into the IoT space, for example, and you anticipate obstacles, speak up about your concerns. Explain the risks, back it up with evidence, and then lay out an alternate strategy. This shows you won’t be afraid to say no when it counts—and that you can resolve a problem they wouldn’t have even anticipated without your help.

Whenever you have an opportunity, call attention to problems in the company’s business strategy that make your expertise essential. If you can point out the labor gaps you will help a company fill, the interviewer will understand how much they need you—and they’ll be happy to extend a job offer.


Hard work is only half the equation when it comes to a successful job interview.

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About the Author

Anish Majumdar is a nationally recognized Career Coach, Personal Branding Expert, and a fierce advocate for transitioning leaders. His posts and videos on disrupting the "normal rules" of job searching and getting ahead reach a combined audience of 30M professionals every month. Go down the rabbit hole of Anish’s career videos at HelloAnish.com, and connect with him on LinkedIn to receive daily career tips and advice.