How to Appear Confident (even if you’re not)

Q: How am I supposed to be confident at an interview or in a meeting when I feel like I know nothing? Everyone else has years of experience, and I don’t want to look like an idiot when I open my mouth!

A: Fake it ’til you make it!

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again because it is critical to understand this point: Confidence is all about attitude.

If you are in an interview and you start to second-guess yourself, bad things can happen! Maria over at talks about a few ways lack of confidence can blow up in your face. You might not be able to answer easy questions, so your interviewer doesn’t find out that you really are an excellent candidate. You might look like you are trying too hard by repeating your accomplishments or by adding unnecessary details. And worst of all, you might blurt out things that should remain unsaid – how your old coworkers were complete losers, or what you did with your friends in college.

So we’ve determined that lacking confidence can really damage your chances in an interview, in a meeting at work, or in any other face-to-face experience. Here are some easy ways to create the appearance of confidence and save you from yourself!

This seems deceptively simple. Smile? That’s it? But there’s more to it. People are drawn to other happy people – it makes them happier as well. Face it – you don’t want to spend time with someone who is miserable, so neither does your interviewer.

Just be careful – make sure your smile is real. Fake smiles will be spotted immediately – they don’t reach the corners of your eyes. A fake smile will make you seem insincere and sneaky.

Need help smiling in such a stressful situation? Think about how awesome it will be if you do get the job, and how happy you are that you have the opportunity to interview. If that doesn’t work, pick any random happy memory – the trip to Cancun, your senior year of college.. anything, as long as it doesn’t distract you from answering questions!

Eye Contact

I must admit – this has always been one of the most difficult things for me to do consistently. It always seemed creepy staring into a stranger’s eyes. But making eye contact is one of the surest ways to make yourself seem more confident. Don’t stare down at your resume, at the floor, don’t gaze out the window or at the clock.

Focus! In the US, at least, making eye contact with someone is a sign of respect – an indication that you value what this person has to say, and that you are giving them your undivided attention. You would hope that your interviewer is doing the same for you, so make a conscious effort to make prolonged (though not unblinking) eye contact.

No Fidgeting

This one is also a no-brainer. Watch any antsy kid, who can’t sit still, and you see what I mean. Just watching the kid makes me want to start squirming.

Unless you are sitting behind a table, don’t tap your foot or shake your knee. Don’t wring your hands, check your cell phone, or mess with your resume. Even if you don’t think you fidget, you might do it subconsciously.

The best way to beat this is to put yourself in a somewhat stressful situation and film yourself. Have a serious friend or older family member help you with a mock interview. Take it as seriously as you would the real thing. When you finish, watch the video. How did you do? Did you fidget? If not – great! If you did, practice again and again until you can sit calmly, smile, and make eye contact!

One Response to “How to Appear Confident (even if you’re not)”
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  1. […] it ’til you make it. Confidence is all about attitude. I’ve given a few presentations so far in my career that I really had […]

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