5 Ways to Possess a Quiet Confidence in Interviews
In a 2015 research study published by Northwestern University professor Lauren Rivera, she found that in job interviews employers had “subjective feelings of excitement and enthusiasm toward candidates”, particularly pointing to “energy gains and losses” between the interviewer and interviewee as a primary determinant when evaluating job candidates. While we tend to focus on the qualifications, general knowledge and experience necessary for our ideal jobs, much less is devoted to the nonverbal attitude and mentality we exude. Especially in highly competitive jobs, intangibles beyond paper qualifications are necessary in separating candidates. Employers, much like athletic coaches and recruiters, seek out prospects that fit within a particular culture. This is where a quiet confidence can make a candidate stand out.
A quiet confidence is a balance between situational deference, passion and mental strength. It conveys experience, stability and authenticity. Of course, most of us -especially when interviewing for the ideal job- feel a degree of nervousness and mental restlessness. Interviewers expect this. What is particularly impressive, however, is making one appear so accustomed to the pressure that the interview feels natural. In other words, that we can overcome the internal pressure, and even compensate for other limitations by displaying a quiet confidence. Here are five suggestions to appearing quietly confident:
1. Attentive Listening
When we truly concentrate and carefully internalize what the interviewer is asking or where he/she is steering the conversation, we convey not only our willingness to learn but also display confidence by restraining the need to verbalize our best traits and skills until the interview calls for it. Strong eye contact and perhaps a follow up question or two when listening can go a long way in exuding a genuine and respectful quiet confidence through attentive listening.
2. Conversational Flexibility
Especially when interviewing for a job that seeks a high social IQ, being able to adapt to shifts in topics within the interview can be an important signal in how conversationally adept a candidate would be in the workplace. How flexible we are in conversation beyond the conventional script can indicate confidence in adjusting and adapting to certain challenges, and indicates how well we may fit into a particular work culture. Further, doing so while maintaining a professional but positive composure exudes maturity and a well-honed experience beyond mere CV qualifications.
3. Maintaining a Theme
While we do want to be conversationally flexible, what can make a candidate truly stand out is how well one can consistently weave the interview dialogue back to a central theme, regardless of how casual an interview may become. Doing so roots a candidate’s quiet confidence in a passionate and disciplined purpose, and thus come off as more genuine. Maintaining an enthusiastic, casual dialogue alongside a consistent and thematic brand of oneself is an invaluable tool in the interview process.
4. Get Comfortable
Part and parcel to a quiet confidence is giving the impression that one feels loose and natural. Few employers would believe a candidate feels sure of themselves and their value when they appear tense or tight in an interview. Even if we may feel anxious and tense internally, by communicating loosely (e.g. hand gestures), psychologists find, interviewees can be seen as more ‘warm’, ‘energetic’, ‘agreeable’ and ‘passionate’. While we wouldn’t want to deviate into the realm of the informal and becoming too comfortable, remaining loose and smooth in our posture and gestures greatly contributes to a quiet confidence that indicates we embrace and even enjoy being in the interview setting.
5. Be Yourself!
Most importantly, confidence requires a belief in one’s own passion and ability. The best way to project a quiet confidence is to be genuine. Pardon the cliché, but we all really do possess something unique and valuable. But we need to effectively convey that through our own style. Rather than aiming to prove that we match the swanky qualifications on our polished CV’s, an ability to craft a unique brand of YOU is the ultimate virtue of a quiet confidence. This makes us more passionate in our interview answers, and allows the employer to generate a feeling of excitement and enthusiasm about a candidate.