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The simple mistake that could be costing you the job

The simple mistake that could be costing you the job

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Employers love confident candidates. But how much is too much? Whether you’re going for a junior or a senior role it’s important to get the level of confidence just right for the job.

Saying you can do something with no explanation is cocky. The secret ingredient, says Andrew Morris, director, Robert Half, is humility. Having the humility to admit what you know and don’t know makes you look confident, self-aware and ready for the right role.

Four signs you’re overconfident

Even if you know you’re the best thing since sliced bread, back off and avoid these classic overconfident interview killers:

  1. You know it all. We’re often desperate to show in an interview that we know our stuff. However a know-it-all doesn’t often get the job. By all means demonstrate what you know, but remember to stay humble and express that you’re willing to learn. In fact make it clear that you’re ready to join this organisation to round out your experience and expand your knowledge. Never criticise others.
     
  2. Talking non-stop about yourself. Both nervousness and/or overconfidence can cause candidates to talk endlessly about themselves. This can backfire if your interviewer perceives you as arrogant or not open to other’s opinions. Talking over the top of the interviewer or not listening are the very worst things you can do.
     
  3. You use the hard sell. If you’ve worked in a sales role before it can be tempting to use classic hard sell techniques on your interviewer to get the job at all odds. Don’t. Interviewers don’t like being railroaded and forced to make decisions until they’re ready.
     
  4. You boast. Sure you grew the company’s bottom line at your last job, managed a squillion people, and know more than everyone else. Just be a bit subtle when telling your potential new employer this. It’s better to be quietly confident without boasting.

Killer tips to get confidence just right

To get into confidence mode, try these tricks:

  • Give direct answers. This shows that you know your stuff and don’t need to embellish it.
     
  • Mirror and match your interviewer. Body language can be used to portray the right level of confidence, says Morris. In particular, mirror and match your interviewer. This is a psychological strategy where you subtly imitate the gestures and speech of the person you want to impress. It’s been proven to help build rapport and will also help you assess the appropriate level of confidence to bring to the table.
     
  • Show that you’re a team player. Being a team player takes just the right level of confidence. To convey this talk about your role as part of team and give practical examples to back this up.
     
  • Watch your words. As the old saying goes: never use a fancy word when a simpler one will do. Confident people usually use the least jargon and come across as more knowledgeable as a result.
     
  • Ask the right questions. This is the real killer says Morris. It shows you know your stuff, but are interested in more than just yourself. It takes the focus off you and transforms you from cocky, to confident with humility in an instant.

We can all grow and learn. Practice your new found confidence and/or your ability to show humility in mock interviews with a friend, colleague or professional coach. 

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SEEK data, December 2021 โ€“ June 2022.
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