How to Project Confidence During a Job Interview (Even When You’re Really Nervous)

job interview

How do you ensure that you don’t give up on your job search in 2020? A good place to start is improving your job interview skills. The more confidence you have during the interview process, the better you’ll feel about your job search, and the greater the likelihood of success.

The first step is to project confidence during a job interview, no matter how nervous you feel.

Be Bold

Leaders know who they are and what they want, and that’s exactly what you need to emulate. According to an article in Harvard Business Review, executive presence is the “ability to project mature self-confidence, a sense that you can take control of difficult, unpredictable situations; make tough decisions in a timely way; and hold your own with other talented and strong-willed members of the executive team.” And this starts with being brave and bold.

No one likes arrogance, but people also don’t respect or appreciate people who walk into a room timidly. By being bold and projecting an air of confidence (even if you don’t feel it), you reassure the interviewer that their time won’t be wasted. Remember, you were invited to the interview; they want to meet you, so act like it.

  • Walk into the interview with a pep in your step, your shoulders back, and your head held high.
  • Make eye contact with your interviewer.
  • Boldly introduce yourself stating your name and greeting your interviewer by name, if possible. Knowing a few details about the interviewer’s background will also help you steer the conversation.
  • Don’t rush. Remain straightforward, unflappable, and calm no matter what happens.
  • Stand firm by your convictions if challenged but remain polite.

Look Confident

job interviewIt’s not just about making eye contact with your interviewer or shaking their hand firmly. You have to look confident from the moment you walk into the interview until you leave.

According to Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, how you hold yourself when you stand and sit could affect your hormones and thus how confident you feel. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to hold yourself. Instead, you need to look for sensations of confidence as you stand and sit because your posture can send messages to your brain that change how you feel.

If you want to feel more powerful:

  • Plant your feet firmly on the ground.
  • Keep your body relaxed and open.
  • Sit up straight.
  • Smile.
  • Stand in a “power” pose.

Practice Mindfulness

When you’re nervous, it’s easy to suddenly feel overwhelmed and get lost in your head. Of course, this is exactly what you don’t want to happen during a job interview. That’s why you should practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the act of focusing your awareness on the present moment, while at the same time, calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts. When you’re mindful, it has proven physical and psychological benefits for your well-being and confidence. Not only will you project an aura of being thoughtful and measured, but as you become more self aware, you’ll feel grounded and powerful.

To practice mindfulness during an interview, begin by observing yourself and your surroundings.

  • How do you feel? What physical sensations do you notice in your feet, legs, belly, chest, arms, head, and neck?
  • How are you breathing? Focus on your breath flowing in and out.
  • Focus on what you’re seeing, smelling, and hearing. Let it flow over you.
  • Feel the energy of the room and your presence in it.

The key is not to try mindfulness for the first time on the day of your interview. Instead, practice being mindful every day and then use it during the job interview to remain calm.

Follow up with the perfect thank-you note after a job interview.

Pause But Don’t Stop

Everyone gets flustered during an interview at some point. Don’t beat yourself up when it happens. You can prepare for these awkward situations to make them easier.

First, pay attention to when you start saying things like “um,” “you know,” and “like.” These words indicate you’re starting to babble and lose track of the conversation or idea. When this happens, it’s okay to pause, reset, and regain your presence.

Silence in a job interview is uncomfortable, but sometimes it’s necessary. After the interviewer asks a question, take a few seconds to process it before you reply. If you need more than a few seconds, ask the hiring manager for a moment and then focus on what you want to say before you start. If you still can’t figure out what to say, ask for clarification.

Sometimes intentional silence is helpful for eliciting more thoughtful and accurate responses and insight. Here are some ideas to help you avoid awkward pauses:

  • Keep it short, clear, and simple. Less is more.
  • When you’re silent, demonstrate active listening by nodding. Some psychologists suggest subtly mirroring the other person’s expression and body language can show receptivity. 
  • Stay on topic by asking for clarification or beginning a related thought.

Do Your Homework

Job interviewMost of the time, people lack confidence because they don’t feel prepared. No one handles the unknown well. But by preparing for the job interview—practicing common questions and researching the role and position, for example—you’ll feel more confident about what you can handle.

There’s no such thing as being over-prepared. The more knowledge you have, the more confidence and control you’ll feel. The key is to delve beyond the surface level as much as possible. 

Before your job interview:

  • Read recent news articles and press releases from the company. Go back at least a few months.
  • Review the company’s latest financial report.
  • Get to know the product. Download a free trial, watch a how-to video, read blogs, etc.
  • Before the day of your appointment, ask your contact who you’ll interview with. Then research their work history, recent accomplishments, and academic background.
  • Network with current employees via LinkedIn to get a better idea of the company’s values and culture.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer.
  • Map out your greatest strengths, weaknesses, and skills based on the job description to ensure you know how you fit with the company’s goals.

Interview With Confidence

Arrogance is not the same as confidence. Don’t be afraid to go into the interview feeling good about who you are and what you have to offer. Remember, they asked you to be there for the job interview, so they’re already willing to invest their time and attention. 

Here are a few final thoughts to keep in mind before your next job interview:

  • About 30% of hiring decisions are made in the first five minutes; 5% are made in the first 60 seconds. Make your introduction count!
  • Plan what you want to tell the interviewer about yourself. This is how most interviews open, and it’s your chance to take control of the conversation and tell your story.
  • Every situation, no matter how difficult, has a positive spin. Focus on being positive and highlight what you learned from a professional setback. 
  • Acknowledge your anxiety; don’t suppress it. You can be confident and anxious. By making peace with your anxiety, you can deal with it.
  • Don’t worry about what you just said. The moment is over and done. Instead, focus on what comes next and try to use your body, voice, and words to make a positive impression.

Want more interview prep?  Check out Ivy Exec’s executive coaching services and a jump-start on your career.


About the Author

Kelly Vo is a full-time freelance writer specializing in digital marketing, personal development, and content creation. A social media and brand development expert, you can find Kelly at where she helps businesses and executives develop their authentic voice.