“Jan, can you give me some feedback and let me know why I didn’t get the job?” she asked.

This was a question from a candidate I recently interviewed. I was searching for someone with technical strength but also someone who could operate on a strategic level – someone who could lead a department and provide recommendations to the CEO.

Giving feedback without sounding too critical can be tricky but I’m in the business to help people. I want everyone to succeed. I believe recruiters should provide appropriate feedback, when asked, if they can help the candidate in the future.

My response to her surrounded her confidence level. Her answers, body language, and mannerisms told a story that she was not confident in her abilities. The CEO needed to rely on this person for departmental expertise. Sadly, she was most likely technically proficient, but she didn’t convey that message.

Confidence, or lack of, will have a detrimental impact to your job interview. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, how can a potential employer trust that you will be good at what you do? Low confidence inhibits the way in which you speak about your abilities.  It makes others doubt your capabilities and judgment.

Research shows that confidence is critical to success at work. Yet everyone, from the college grad to senior leaders in the organization, have moments when they are unsure of their capacity to undertake a challenge. Occasional bouts of insecurity are normal, but frequent bouts hold you back. Some people seem to radiate confidence, while others struggle. When you are confident, you have a feeling of security. That security alleviates anxiety which ultimately helps your job performance.


Absolutely not!

You probably know someone who exudes confidence. Maybe you think they are born with it. There’s good news. You don’t have to be born with it. You, too, can be confident. People go to the gym because they want to be fit, healthy, and to transform their body. They work out to build their muscles. Just like muscles, you can develop confidence if you work on it.


1. Question Your Inner Critic

When your inside voice betrays you and starts to tell you that you’re going to fail, turn the tables on it. Ask yourself questions like, “What specifically makes me believe that I will fail? “What precisely am I afraid of?” Nail down those specifics because you’ll soon learn if these are valid concerns or if your inner gremlin is trying to get the best of you. Once you narrow down your specific fears, you can put a plan into place to tackle them one by one.

2. Take on New Projects and Challenges

Guess what happens if you stay in your comfort zone? Nothing. It is easier to stay where you feel at ease but if you want more success, you’ll have to do a few things that make you feel uncomfortable. When you tackle the feeling of discomfort, your confidence will grow as you complete each task or project. The more success you have, the more your confidence grows. What new things can you take on today? Ask to be included in new projects or ask your boss for challenging tasks.

3. Evaluate Your Inner Circle

There is an old saying that goes something like this: “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” Your self-worth shouldn’t be dependent on others, but incredible things are rarely accomplished alone. Friends help. Still, too many like-minded people can stagnate growth. Additionally, if your friends or co-workers are difficult or overly-critical, get away from them and gravitate toward those who build you up. If anyone makes you feel inadequate, re-evaluate that relationship. Start surrounding yourself with supportive people who believe in you.

4. Watch Your Body Language 

In addition to what we communicate verbally, there are messages we communicate non-verbally that have a massive influence over the impression we make on others. People who lack self-confidence may have a weak hand shake or stand or sit with their arms crossed. They may also be shy when it comes to holding eye contact with others.

Did you know that sitting or standing in postures of confidence can change your physiology and help you feel more confident? When others see this, they perceive you as being confident as well.

In her TED Talk on how “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” social psychologist Amy Cuddy shares the science of how our body affects our mind, our mind affects our behaviors and our behaviors affect our outcomes. One of her studies revealed that subjects who practiced “power posing” before a job interview were the candidates that the interviewers wanted to hire.

5. Empower Yourself by Expanding Your Skills

Increasing your knowledge will increase your confidence. Think about your currents strengths Yes, everyone has strengths. Start with building on what you already know.  Do you have any gap in your knowledge that you can fill?  Do you need to finish a degree? Obtain a certification? What will make you more marketable? Having specific training in a given area sets you up as an authority on the subject.  If money is an issue, the internet is a fantastic resource. You can find many classes or webinars for free or for a minimal cost.

6. Prepare and Rehearse Answers Out Loud

Google is filled with information on common interview questions. Research these and start practicing your answers out loud – using the right body language. Make sure you review the job description fully. Look at the skills and expertise they are seeking and then think about your experience, knowledge and personal qualities. Come prepared with examples of how you meet these qualities.

Failure Is Not Final

Everyone is going to fail at some point in their life. Several times. It’s not the end. Your courage and confidence will help you keep on moving. It is a part of our personal development. Learn to be comfortable with yourself, learn to toot your own horn, and surround yourself with people who support you and bring out your best. Stop getting knocked out of the interview process because your confidence holds you back. You have a confident person in you, all you need to do is to uncover it.

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Jan Johnston Osburn is a Certified Career Coach and Organizational Consultant. Her organizational specialties are Talent Acquisition, Training, and Leadership Development. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Buckingham, UK, and has certifications in Executive Coaching and Advanced Social Media. Her website is www.YourBestLifeTodayCoaching.Com .