Confidence won’t — and maybe shouldn’t — always get you ahead at work. But in the space of an interview, specifically, showing a healthy amount of self-assuredness can’t hurt.
People who are confident in their interviewing skills have learned overtime that certain behaviors and language can stand to undermine you as a candidate. Below, here are 11 things that confident people make sure to avoid during an interview, according to hiring experts we heard from.
1. Confident people don't rush, knowing the value of a well-timed pause.
“Confident people avoid rushing to answer every question immediately,” Andrea Madden, an FGB VIP and Marketing Strategist, said. “It might seem like you're demonstrating your experience and skills by having an answer to every question right away, but it can also come across like you weren't actually listening to the question because you were already planning your answer. You also run the risk of interrupting the interviewer which is not something that most employers like. Even if you know what you want to say, wait at least a second or two before answering. You might find that you come up with something better than what you planned to say by simply listening.”
2. They don’t overexplain themselves.
“Here's the biggest thing that confident people don't do in interviews: they don't apologize and they don't overexplain,” Laurie D Battaglia, an FGB VIP and CEO and Workplace Strategist of Aligned at Work, said. “Many people go into an interview knowing all their difficulties and challenges, and they focus there... Often, the job is lost in over-apologizing (saying sorry a lot when it isn't needed) and in over-disclosing. You should never lie or exaggerate, but you should consider how you are telling your story — is it from a standpoint of victim, or victor who has learned the lessons of challenge and failure?”
Kristen Yealy, an FGB VIP and Account Manager, emphasized this point, too.’
"Confident interviewees are able to speak to their past job experience and current skillsets without discrediting themselves in the process,” she said. “I once interviewed an applicant who shared that they had been out of work for a certain period of time, and on their own, they continued to circle back to the topic with additional justification, which ended up drawing more attention to the resume gap than was necessary.”
3. They avoid filler language.
“One of the top things I stress when teaching or coaching interview preparation is powerful language. This is especially important for women because we tend to communicate in a low-power position,” Miranda Wilcox, an FGB VIP and Founder and Coach at Thrive Potential, said. “Confident interviewers avoid hedges like ‘I think,’ intensifiers like ‘really,’ and unlikely absolutes like ‘always.’”
4. They don’t feign perfection.
“During an interview, confident people don’t pretend to be perfect,” Carmen Orr, VP of People at eBay and Executive Coach, said. “The most confident people demonstrate humility by providing examples of things that didn’t go as planned, and sharing what they learned from the experience. This highlights both their self-awareness and learning agility.”
Ellysa Smith, a fellow FGB VIP and HR Specialist, agreed.
“Confident people realize that failures are a part of life — no use in pretending they do not occur, or worse, that you have never personally experienced failure,” she said. “In their interview, a confident person explains their failure and highlights how that has led to their continuous growth. Projecting perfection, on the other hand, can appear as overconfidence or even arrogance. Employers do not want a perfect candidate. They want a candidate who accepts that mistakes happen and will use those experiences to build themselves and the organization up.”
5. They don’t simply say what they think the interviewer wants to hear.
“Confident people avoid performing in an interview or trying to answer questions by sharing what they think the interviewers want to hear, rather than what is true and authentic,” Alyson Garrido, an FGB VIP and career coach, said. “Be the best version of yourself, rather than trying to be someone else. If you get the job as someone else, you have to continue the charade when you start. If you don't get the job, you'll always wonder if you could have made it by being yourself.”
6. They don’t use run-on sentences.
“The one thing confident people avoid doing in interviews is using run-on sentences,” Susan Graye, an FGB VIP and a Global Talent Attraction and Acquisition Leader, said. “They are prepared and can succinctly answer questions through prior preparation. Many people fall in the trap of providing a long-winded answer, hoping that, like answering an essay question in college that they will get partial credit for, they hit on at least part of the right answer. The more confident interviewers also will clarify the question prior to answering.”
7. They don’t talk up to the interviewer.
“Confident people in interviews don’t need to flatter their interviewers because they know their worth,” Allan Borch, Founder of DotcomDollar.com, said. “Instead of treating interviewers as superiors, they treat them as peers. With this, they approach the conversation like a two-way street. This also shows interviewers’ excellent communication skills as they know how to handle the conversation properly with the right tone and approach.”
8. They avoid claiming full credit.
“Confident people never take credit for a project or an accomplishment all to themselves — they are willing to share the praises with others,” Jamie McCann, owner of 3AM Marketing Services, said. “Meanwhile, those who are less confident often take credit all to themselves and don’t share the accolades with their team.”
9. They don’t draw comparisons.
“I'd say one thing confident people don't do in interviews is worry too much about the competition. For example, they don't ask about other applicants and how they compare. They don't assume and timidly justify themselves — e.g. ‘even though I may not have as much experience as others…,’” Christopher K. Lee, Founder and Career Consultant at Purpose Redeemed, said. “At the end of the day, none of that matters to you as a candidate. You got the interview for a reason… It's tempting to try to assess ‘what are my chances?’ But working with incomplete information, your assessment likely won't be accurate anyway. So don't overthink it. Prepare well, go in and do your best.”
10. They avoid negative body language.
“Confident people don't touch their face or fidget during the interview,” Vinay Amin, Health Expert & CEO at Eu Natural, said. “Composure and body language say an incredible amount about the preparedness of a candidate for a role, and if someone is confident, they sit calmly with a strong, natural posture and an almost welcoming demeanour — certainly no crossed arms.”
11. They don’t suggest that their own needs are flexible.
“It makes me nervous when potential employees are too eager to back down on their desired pay, hours or work responsibilities,” Kendra Bruning, founder of GameCows, said. “As someone who used to be in their shoes, I know this can simply be because they’re excited about the position and a reliable source of income. But this often comes across as the jobseeker undervaluing their skills or potential. I’ve found that this can translate to their role within my company; these individuals are often hesitant to take on more responsibility or complete tasks that could help them grow alongside my business. I’m most impressed by potential employees who stand by their abilities and are willing to haggle a bit before settling on a salary and role that we are both happy with.”