Confidence + Humility

Being confident in an interview is good so long as you don’t come across as arrogant. Humility is also good. It’s a positive character trait most people admire. But like too much confidence (arrogance), too much humility can rule you out as a job candidate.

You need to find the right balance. In other words, how to talk about yourself without sounding arrogant.  

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. While it may feel uncomfortable at first, you must speak openly about your own accomplishments while giving credit to others when appropriate.
  2. Back up your accomplishments with evidence. The interviewer doesn’t want to hear high-level statements like, “I fixed their HR problems.” They want you to back up your statement with details. Tell them what you did and what the outcomes were. Be specific.
  3. Project a quiet confidence about yourself without sounding arrogant. You will be taken more seriously if you come across as relaxed, happy, and poised. Think like someone who wants the job but doesn’t need the job.
  4. Make sure your body language and words align. Lean forward, make eye contact, use hand gestures, and smile. You will appear relaxed, professional, and confident. This is important whether the interview in in-person or by Zoom.
  5. Acknowledging your mistakes. It says you’re human. It takes a strong person to admit their mistakes and acknowledge there is room for improvement.

Remember, your goal in an interview is to explain how your blend of skills, experience, and personal attributes can add value to that employer.

If this is done in a genuine and respectful way, you will still be able to maintain your humility but in a way that helps you—not hurts you.

One last thing:

If you have ten minutes, you should watch the TEDx talk by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, author of Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders—one of my favourite business books of recent years. In the talk, he distinguishes confidence from competence. Excellent insights that can help you in an interview.