Let’s face it, talking about ourselves isn’t something most of us do well, especially in front of strangers.
An interviewer will understand that, as a recent graduate, you might not have a lot of experience, but there are certain things you can do to show you’re confident and capable of doing the job well.
It’s important to talk about your personal and professional achievements in an interview, but how do you blow your own trumpet without being arrogant?
Here are 5 ways to communicate confidence at interview:
1. Back up your achievements
Referring to your achievements rather than the expected duties you fulfilled in your past roles can really help you in getting the job. Explain what you did and how it helped the business, using the STAR method where possible:
Situation – set the scene, Task – describe the job at hand, Action – what you did, Result – the outcome
The interviewer will be keen to understand what impact you had in a previous role, but make sure you back this up with hard evidence. A sweeping statement such as "I made many good sales throughout the year" can instead be presented as "I initiated, negotiated and closed 5 high value sales opportunities, consistently exceeding my KPIs and creating a 20% increase in revenue."
2. Ask questions during the interview… not just at the end
Interviews shouldn’t be a completely one-way process. Asking a couple of questions throughout will help to build rapport with the interviewer and demonstrate your interest in the role, as well as showing your confidence in connecting with people – which is essential if you are going to be joining a new team.
On paper, interviews seem very structured: you get asked a question, you answer, and you get asked another question, and so on. So, how do you break the mould? There is nothing wrong in asking a question to clarify what the interviewer is asking you if you’re feeling unsure, especially as it will help you answer correctly. Another way to deviate from the standard Q+A interview format is to follow up your answers with questions of your own to spark further discussion, for instance:
- When asked what you know about the company, you could bring up something relevant you read on their website and ask “Is that something I would be working on directly?”
- When asked about your ability to work as part of a team, you could follow up your answer by asking “What is the team dynamic like here?”
For more advice on interview questions to ask click here.
3. Talk about your mentors
You don’t have to talk exclusively about yourself for the whole interview. Mentioning your mentors and how they helped you shows you have an ability to learn from those above you, and has the added benefit of providing the interviewer with a reference source to back up what you are saying.
It doesn’t just have to be mentors, it could be your boss or the team you worked in, but make sure your personal achievements shine. Think about times when you had to be proactive and act on information you were given. Perhaps someone helped you identify a weakness that you’ve taken steps to improve. This allows you to demonstrate self-awareness, and to highlight your achievements without seeming arrogant or unaware of the contribution others have had to your success.
4. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes
Prior to meeting them, think about what the interviewer will want to see from you. Taking the time to consider how you will be perceived will allow you to more accurately prioritise your talking points and give the interviewer the information they need to progress you through the hiring process.
Remember, the interviewer is not only there to see if your skillset would suit the role on offer, they have to think about how you would fit into the company and its culture. When you’ve just left uni and haven’t yet got years of full-time experience, this is especially important. The best thing to do is show a genuine interest in the team and environment you would be working in.
5. Relax and be the best you
We appreciate this is easier said than done, but you can draw confidence from the fact you have been invited to interview and you made it this far. Your CV has already impressed, so use this knowledge to relax you when you’re feeling anxious. Be confident in what they already know about you – now, it’s time to wow them by being the best you.
Coming across too relaxed can work against you, so be sure to let your enthusiasm shine through. Sitting forward on your chair communicates you are keen and interested in what the interviewer is saying. Remember, there is no rush, so don’t be afraid to take a moment to think about your answers before you speak. This will help you get your answers across in a calm, collected and confident way.
To download the full interview advice guide, click here.