Confidence! The Boost Your Career Needs

As you might know, with the state of the graduate job market these days, employers have the luxury of being picky. A lot of the time, some of the candidates will be pretty much the same in terms of their work experience, skill sets, and abilities (see here and here for our previous articles on employability).

What differentiates candidates is their ability to sell themselves. In short, this comes down to confidence.

Researchers found that if two people had equal levels of ability, but one had more confidence, the confident person would be seen as being more competent and so would attain higher status!

As well as affecting how you see yourself and how you behave, confidence makes a difference with how others view you too. This is what will make you memorable to recruiters and interviewers, and this good impression is what may ultimately lead to a job offer.

It is, of course, easier said than done to ‘be confident’ – we know. For most of us, confidence is not something that comes naturally. This might be especially true if you don’t have much experience in the industry you want to work in. But never fear, here are some steps you can take to building your confidence.


  1. Recognising and getting over any imposter syndrome

First of all, what even is imposter syndrome? It’s the feeling that you are a fraud (you’re not), that you do not deserve your success (you do), and that secretly you are not as good as everyone else (you are). This is when you do well on an exam and you brush it off as luck. Or when you are chosen for a team and you immediately think they made a mistake.

Does this seem familiar to you? If you’re nodding in agreement right now, you’re not alone.

Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, said ‘There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am’. See what we mean? Anyone can be hit by this.

Recognising imposter syndrome is the most important step.

The next step is to argue back when you hear that little voice in your head. Different people deal with this in different ways – some talk about it to others, some repeat mantras to themselves to remind them of their value and hard work (e.g. ‘I worked hard for this. I deserve this.’).

Remember the things you have done to get to where you are today, and realise that this was not an accident or luck, and you deserve whatever opportunity it is that you are chasing.


  1. Standing up for yourself

This applies less to an interview scenario, and more to group tasks on assessment days or during your working life.

Let’s cut to the chase – standing up for yourself means not being afraid to speak up if you have a good point. It is not letting people cut you off or talk over you. Be assertive… But don’t be rude. Know that what you have to say has just as much value as anyone else in the room, and you deserve to be heard.

Another thing people tend to do is apologise unnecessarily. One example is saying sorry when you start to speak up. Avoid doing this too – stop and remember that you have nothing to apologise for. Don’t apologise for doing your job.

Just a note: try not to end up overconfident, you might just come off as arrogant. We’re aware of how complicated this is getting – be confident, but not too confident. To clarify, confidence is believing in yourself and your abilities, arrogance is looking like you think you are better than other people.

This is about being realistic. Whilst you should not minimise your achievements, be sure to not over-inflate them. Recruiters and employers have interviewed a lot of people, and they will most likely pick up on any exaggerations.


  1. Fake it ‘til you make it

The idea of ‘faking it’ seems dubious at first, but hear us out. When we say ‘fake it’, we don’t mean be a totally different person. You should always be yourself at an interview, but try being the best version of yourself.

The dangers of not doing this is getting caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘I will fail the job interview’ and then failing the job interview because it is what you believed would happen. Also, we realise that gaining confidence is not an immediate step. If you ‘fake it’, confidence will gradually come naturally until one day you find that you’re no longer pretending, and this confidence is truly yours.

Be aware of your body language. Avoid crossing your arms, walk with your head held high and your shoulders pushed back. Sit up straight, don’t fidget, and try to smile. Maybe even put your hands on your hips with your feet apart in the classic ‘Superman pose’. Amy Cuddy from Harvard University found that standing in power poses like this for just two minutes could cause better performance in job interviews (check out her TED talk here!).

One way to help may be to picture the interview going well in your head. Imagining that things will go well is likely going to encourage you to believe you can do this. Even if you do not yet believe you deserve a certain job or position, pretend that you do. If you are not confident about yourself just yet, it is okay to fake it until you make it.

So these are our top three tips for increasing your confidence, which may just be what you need to ace that interview!


Lily Wu is guest contributor with the Inspiring Interns blog. An Oxford Law graduate, she will take up her place at Hogan Lovells in 2018. Connect with Lily via LinkedIn.


Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internship jobs and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit our website.