How To Interview Confidently Against The Competition
How To Interview Confidently Against The Competition
Do you have an interview coming up and are now starting to wonder how you will fare against the other candidates, i.e. your competition? Perhaps you’re worried that they may be more qualified or have more experience than you. If so, don’t let these thoughts damage your self-confidence and thus your chances of interview success. Instead, take my advice on what you can do in order to interview confidently against the competition.
Confront your insecurities and take control
What is it that’s making you feel insecure and impacting your self-confidence? Perhaps you haven’t attended an interview for a while and you’re feeling out of practice, or perhaps you feel you are lacking experience in another area?
If this sounds like you, use the time you have prior to the interview wisely to help ease these insecurities. For instance, if you feel out of practice, brush up on your interview technique by answering some questions out loud, in front of a mirror or with another person. Seek feedback on how coherent your answers are and what your body language indicates about your confidence levels. Doing this will warm you up for the interview and enable you to make any necessary improvements.
You may also be feeling worried about the things you can’t change in time for the interview, for instance, your perceived lack of technical skills or the fact that you may not have the desired industry experience. If this is the case, speak to your recruiter. They can reassure you that this isn’t the big issue that you’ve built it up to be in your mind. After all, if it was, you wouldn’t have been invited to the interview in the first place.
Bear in mind that your interviewer may still bring up your lack of experience or skills gaps, so it’s a good idea to plan a positive response to this. Be prepared to demonstrate that you are aware of this gap, and come armed with a few examples of how you intend to upskill yourself in order to bridge this gap.
Now that you have confronted your insecurities, don’t dwell on them. Instead, remind yourself of everything you can bring to this role and the organisation.
Focus on the expertise you can offer
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, you really don’t know what kind of skills and experience the competition has. What you do know for certain, is what you can bring to the table, therefore focus on this instead and remind yourself of the expertise you have to offer.
It’s important to remind yourself of this prior to your interview. Start by reviewing your CV, cross reference your key skills with the job description in order to identify the overlaps, and write these down. This should reassure you that you are in fact a great match for the role.
Now practice answering common competency based questions which test for these, using the STAR technique below. This will help remind you of all those great things you have achieved and build your confidence even further:
- S to set the situation
- T to describe your task and involvement
- A to tell of your action
- R to show off the results
By now, you should have noticed some of your initial insecurities melt away and your confidence levels starting to build up. Of course, you may still have some niggling self-doubts, and that’s completely natural. So, how else can you feel assured that you are a strong contender, and interview confidently on the day?
Have confidence in your personality
I feel very strongly about this point, and I know a lot of hiring managers who have said the same thing. You can have all the technical skills in the world, but a candidate’s personality is what really sets them apart, and will often sway their decision either way. Here’s why:
- Your soft skills: Soft traits are embodied in your personality. They include things like interpersonal skills, creativity, curiosity or having high emotional intelligence (EQ). These skills will often seal the deal for a hiring manager, simply because they can’t be taught – they are embedded in a person’s character.To determine what your soft skills are, reflect on how your previous colleagues and even friends have described you in the past. What kind of compliments have you always received, even before you joined the world of work? For instance, even since I was a child at school, I have been told that I have a curious mind-set and that I’m always asking questions and wanting to learn more. As disruptive as this may have been in the classroom (!) I like to think this trait enabled me to constantly self-improve, expand upon my knowledge, and get me to where I am today. Next, think about how your soft skills relate to the role in question. What’s more, how could you use these in the interview room to build a rapport with the interviewer and make a great impression? Your soft skills are unique to you and could be the very reasons that the hiring manager chooses you above the competition. Take confidence from them and the value they will bring the role and organisation.
- Your fit within the team: Another important consideration for hiring managers is how well the candidate will fit in with the team and wider business. This is essential for productivity, team dynamic, and employee retention levels. For this reason, if this job really is the right fit for you, then your personality could give you that competitive edge. With this in mind, it’s so important for you to be your authentic self in the interview. Don’t try to be the person you ‘think’ the interviewer wants to see. For example, if you are naturally bubbly and outgoing, inject this into the interview (if and when appropriate). Every personality has a work culture that’s right for them, and the only way of finding your perfect match is by being yourself and forgetting about the competition.
Get into a confident mindset on the morning of the interview
Hopefully reminding yourself of the above will have boosted your confidence. Of course, as the clock counts down to your interview, you may start to feel some interview nerves, so try and get yourself into an optimistic frame of mind on the morning of the interview.
Picture positive outcomes, such as being invited to the next stage of the interview process or even being offered the job. You should also think of encouraging thoughts, including the fact that no-one is 100 per cent perfect, not even the competition, but you clearly have some strong attributes that are unique to you. Why else would the hiring managers have invited you in for an interview?
Give yourself enough time to get ready, dressing your very best. Walk into the interview room with your head held high, and remember to smile, make eye contact and sit up straight. If you can project confidence even during those moments of self-doubt, you will soon start to feel more self-assured and your confidence will shine through.
The over-arching message here is that you cannot be certain of how strong the competition is or which attributes they possess, nor can you exercise any control over this. So forget about them. What you can do is prepare ahead of your interview, remind yourself of the unique value you can bring to the role, and overall, get yourself into a more positive mindset about this opportunity. In doing this, you give yourself the best possible chance of interviewing confidently and outshining the competition.
MBE Managing Director, Hays Spain
A native of Liverpool, Chris joined Hays in 1996, working in the UK and Portugal before arriving in Spain in 2002. He is Managing Director for the Hays group in Spain, with offices located in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao and Seville.
He has a degree in International Business and Modern Languages from Aston University, including a year’s study at l’École Superieur de Sciences Commerciales d’Angers and has since completed Executive Education courses at Ashridge Business School and IMD. He is a regular public commentator on the world of work and international trade.
For the past four years Chris has served as President of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain and currently serves as a Non Executive Director on the Board of the British Chambers of Commerce. Chris was awarded an MBE for services to British business on the New Years Honours List in 2020.