Confidence is contagious — especially when it comes to persuading people you’re the right candidate for a job. “In general, most people — and the recruiters and talent managers are not an exception here — are naturally attracted to confidence. When we interact with someone who projects confidence, they immediately come across as more reliable and trustworthy. A confident person is always more likable and memorable and, as a result, more likely to be hired,” says Olga Labutina, executive and business success coach.
On the other hand, if you don’t show up confidently, you might end up hurting your chances of accessing a career opportunity that would actually be a perfect fit for your skills, experience and values. But projecting confidence can be easier said than done, right? That’s why it’s important to approach it in an actionable way. You can do so by learning how the most confident people conduct themselves in an interview setting and adopting their habits for yourself. “These habits can make it or break it for you during the hiring process,” says Labutina.
Let’s start with the habits you should avoid at all costs. Here are nine things highly confident people simply don’t do in interviews (and what they focus on instead).
1. Coming unprepared
This is a classic interview no-no, especially if you want to radiate confidence. According to Labutina, there are two reasons prep work helps you shine: You end up naturally demonstrating more interest in the company and role you’re applying to, and the extra context makes you feel more secure: “Highly confident people do their homework and know what kind of behaviors are acceptable in the company and for the position, they interview for. They know how to show up, what to wear in order to look and feel relevant. They talk about their experience and achievements in a manner that is expected for the position they interview for.”
2. Acting rude
Being super confident doesn’t mean being arrogant or, even worse, plain rude. Even if you had the worst morning ever before rushing to your interview, make sure to treat everyone with kindness and respect — regardless of whether they are the people interviewing you. “Highly confident people are polite and respectful. If you have been rude with the receptionist or security guards on your arrival, do not expect to hear back from that company ever again. In fact, most of the recruiters say they always ask for quick feedback on the candidate from the office support staff,” says Labutina.
3. Not showing passion
The most confident candidates are not always exceptional orators or super polished professionals. But they always convey their passion, energy and excitement for what they do. “Passionate people never look insecure,” says Labutina. “Highly confident candidates feel proud of their achievements and are passionate about the work.” So don’t hold back from displaying what you love the most about your career and what you’d love to contribute to a potential new role.
4. Pretending to be perfect
When prompted about past shortcomings, the worst thing you can do is try to conceal your failures. “Highly confident candidates are not afraid to embrace their weaknesses and failures in a genuine and authentic manner. They do not need to cover up for something that didn’t work quite as wanted it. Such candidates will demonstrate what they have learned from negative experiences and how they work on their weaknesses to show their agility, flexibility and desire to grow,” says Labutina.
5. Sounding judgemental
Highly confident people never talk badly about their previous employer and they are very mindful of not coming across as judgemental or petty. “Confident people, in general, do not have the need to judge others, as judgment always derives from personal insecurities,” says Labutina.
They also avoid pointing fingers when discussing previous experiences, as they know it only reflects badly on them. “Someone who refuses to take responsibility for problems or failures will never sound confident.”
6. Taking credit for all successes
Super confident candidates are not shy about mentioning their accomplishments — they are proud of their contributions. But they will also tend to highlight memorable teamwork wins. “Confident people do not have an itching need for self-assurance and for taking all the credit. They know their worth and acknowledge the contributions of the people around them,” says Labutina.
7. Avoiding eye contact
A surefire way to look immediately insecure is looking away when answering a question. Maintaining eye contact is a hallmark of confident communication. “When you make appropriately long eye contact with the person in front of you, you come across as confident, calm and credible. It also shows that you are actively listening, paying attention and are genuinely interested in the person in front of you.”
8. Treating the interviewer as superior
Labutina says that truly confident people don’t put their interviewers on a pedestal. They know their worth and approach the conversation like a two-way street. “Leading the discussion from a place of self-worth and equality, treating an interviewer as your peer and not as superior shows your self-esteem and advanced communication skills, something that will be a solid sign of a high-performing and highly-qualified potential employee.”
9. Displaying insecure body language
The most powerful form of communication is sometimes silent. Highly confident people carry themselves with good posture and speak in a calm and measured way. They avoid crossing their arms or looking closed off as well as talking super fast out of nervousness. “It is really hard to trust and admire someone who looks scared and fearful. It is also hard to consider such a candidate for a role which involves decision-making and autonomy,” says Labutina. “When we talk fast and in a high-pitched voice, it reflects the lack of comfort inside us. We may sound unsure and apologetic and this doesn’t help.”