Never say “I am confident…” on a cover letter. Here’s why

When it comes to job interview advice and nuances, there are endless compelling dos and don’ts out there—but it really comes down to what works for you, the type of employer you’re interviewing for, and exactly how you want to be perceived.

That said, you’ll always want to be careful about how you come off after you’ve laid your cards on the table. Your work accolades and personality speak for themselves—and there are certain phrases that you’ll probably want to avoid—“I am confident I am the best candidate for the job” being one of them.

While it may seem like a great closing line to show you’re confident and accomplished, it may actually come across in a way you’d probably want to avoid.

We tapped into our network of human resources professionals and C-level executives to get their thoughts on why you should never say “I am confident I am the best candidate for the job” in a job interview.

From making you look arrogant to actually taking the focus away from your own candidacy, here’s why you should avoid saying that seemingly innocent phrase if you’re hoping to land the job.

It will make you look arrogant.

“It gives off a cocky effect, as simple as that,” says Jolene Caufield, Life Coach and Manager at Healthy Howard. “Amidst a pandemic, finding work has just become more challenging than ever and when you’re a job seeker, you have to expect that the recruiters you’re talking to have already talked to many other candidates before you.” 

According to Caufield, for those in Human Resources and Management, it’s common for them to screen more people for open positions than they can actually handle. Those candidates who said “I am the best for this job,” definitely leaves an impact on the interviewers—a cocky one. 

“Although it’s good that job seekers are confident about themselves, saying you’re the best sets an expectation from you that can be impossible to sustain. Once you said those words during the interview, every mistake and stutter in your next statements and answers will become highlighted and it will lead the interviewers to think that you’re not the best, after all.”

You should be showing, not telling.

“Perhaps even more importantly, it’s times like these when it’s better to show not tell,” says Jennifer Roquemore, Co-Founder of Resume Writing Services. “There’s no point in bluntly saying you’re the best for the job, when the whole point of a job interview is for you to prove that statement to be true by giving off a better impression to the employer than anyone else they’ve interviewed!”

It will make the interview about someone other than you.

Claiming to be the best candidate will actually take the emphasis away from you. Think about it like this: up until the point you made that claim, the entire interview was about you, the interviewer, and the job – there’s been no competition.

“By making a statement like this, you’ve prompted the interviewer to think about the other people who applied for the job. Now the interview features you, the interviewer, the job, and a whole bunch of people you’ve never met,” explains  Chris Young, PhD, SHRM-CP, PHR

Director of Workforce Development at Texas Department of Transportation. “Keep your interview focused on you and the job, don’t assume you know what the interviewer is thinking, and don’t give them the chance to shift the focus away from you.”

Your future employer may not be looking for the best candidate on paper.

In theory, yes you might be the best candidate. You have all the qualifications, you have the experience and you tick all the boxes. But that doesn’t mean much if I can’t actually see you growing with the business,” says Mark Webster is Co-founder of Authority Hacker, an industry leading online marketing education company. . “In fact, sometimes the best candidates are the ones who aren’t the best qualified candidates at all, but rather, they’re keen to show me they’re ready to learn and eager to progress in my company.”

According to Webster, it’s a risky assumption to make thinking that you meet all the criteria for a role, when actually, you don’t really know what the employer is looking for. You’ll come across a lot better if you instead show a willingness to learn and truly understand the company’s needs.

You’ll seem naïve (even if you’re not).

“Over the course of my recruiting career, I have interviewed many candidates and found there is a thin line between being confident and expressing baseless bravado in an interview,” says Darrell Rosenstein, Founder of The Rosenstein Group.

“Saying you believe you are the best candidate for the job is presumptuous and makes you seem naïve—after all, there is no way for you to know how you match up against the other candidates.”

Rosenstein suggests looking at job interviews less like a sales pitch where you are trying to convince the interviewer to ‘buy’ your service and more like a friendly conversation where you are trying to help the interviewer figure out if you are the ideal candidate for their particular needs.