How To Speak With Confidence And Interview Better: 10 Tips

by | Interviewing

You only get one first impression when interviewing with a prospective employer, so it’s important to speak with confidence about your experience and skills.

But what happens if you’re nervous? Is it possible to shake off your jitters and show true confidence in an interview?

Thankfully, confidence can be built, but it’s not something you learn simply by reading an article. It’s a skill you must practice — and hone — with time, energy, and effort.

Continue reading to uncover 10 steps you can follow to show more confidence when interviewing for jobs.

How To Speak With Confidence When Interviewing For Jobs

1. Practice aloud.

For starters, practice is a critical step toward becoming a more confident speaker and interviewee. Unfortunately, many job seekers make the mistake of crafting powerful interview talking points but never making the time to practice rehearsing them aloud.

If you want to appear more confident in your interviews, you must practice sharing your stories aloud and massaging them in response to common interview questions including:

I promise you’ll become a more confident interviewee when you practice sharing your stories aloud.

2. Record yourself speaking.

As you prepare to interview for jobs, you may find it helpful to record yourself sharing your stories, then watch yourself back.

Note: This reflective activity isn’t designed to nitpick your speaking skills but instead to look for areas to improve and optimize in order to become a more confident interviewee.

While it can be uncomfortable recording yourself then watching it back, it’s necessary to move past the discomfort if you want to bolster your speaking prowess.

As I’ve shared previously, I recommend a three-step method for reviewing a recording of yourself:

  • Video only: Watch the video by itself.
  • Audio only: Listen to the audio by itself.
  • Audio and video combined: Watch the video while also listening to the audio.

You’ll want to pay close attention to both your verbal and nonverbal communication.

One client, a senior communications executive, became aware of the fact that she said, “If you know what I mean” at the end of almost every sentence through this activity. Another client learned they rarely made eye contact with the camera.

3. Remove filler words.

As you listen to your recording, you’ll also want to be on the lookout for filler words like “Umm…” and “Uh…” that make you sound less confident.

When you find yourself tempted to use a filler word, replace it with a breath.

Important: Unless you’re interviewing to be a teleprompter reader, you don’t need to eliminate filler words. Instead, the goal is to become more mindful of the words you use, which will in turn make you a more effective speaker.

The intentional use of pauses not only helps you emanate confidence but also provides the interviewer with ample time to take notes or interject with any questions they may have for you.

4. Focus on the facts.

Speaking of filler words, you’ll come off as a more confident speaker and candidate if you limit the use of phrases like “I believe…” and “I think…” in your speech.

You want to focus on the facts when interviewing, rather than sharing your personal beliefs (“I believe…”) or thoughts (“I think…”).

If you notice yourself using crutch phrases, try removing them and see how much more confident you come across when speaking.

5. Get clear on your accomplishments.

While effective leaders frequently resort to the use of the word “we” in the workplace, it can backfire when interviewing, as it can make it difficult to decipher your responsibilities and make you appear as though you lack confidence in your accomplishments.

Consequently, practice using “I…” throughout the interview process when talking about your scope and career wins. Here’s what this looks like in action:

  • Before: “While at X startup, we released a new digital app…”
  • After: “While at X, I guided the product team to…”

[Read: How To Best Prepare For A Management Interview: 6 Tips]

6. Own your fabulousness.

Confident leaders also know their unique value proposition (AKA fabulousness) — and can effectively refer to it when interviewing.

If you struggle to identify your fabulousness, you can try looking at your past performance reviews, letters of recommendation, and LinkedIn testimonials. You can also simply ask a few people you trust, “What makes me fabulous?”

Before your interview, consider writing down a list of everything that makes you fabulous; it’s not only a great confidence-boosting activity but can also be referenced during your interview.

[Listen: How to Identify What Makes You Fabulous, with Kyle Elliott]

7. Harness the power of storytelling.

An additional strategy you can deploy to come off as a confident interviewee is storytelling.

Fortunately, sharing stories throughout the interview is easier than it sounds. When you make a claim, simply back it up with a story.

If an interviewer asked how you manage to stay organized despite competing deadlines, for instance, you can briefly mention the 17-tab, color-coded Excel file you created and manage.

Importantly though, not every response needs a story that uses the comprehensive STAR(T) formula. Sometimes a “mini story” is more impactful and will prevent your interview from running over time.

8. Avoid rambling.

At the same time, you also want to be mindful of the length of your story. You may be perceived as lacking confidence if your stories are unnecessarily long.

While there are exceptions, of course, two minutes in length is a good target for responses to typical behavioral interview questions.

Using a timer can also be helpful if you struggle with rambling. (TimeCube is my go-to timer for interview prep, as it has options with multiple timer lengths, and you can put it on silent mode and flip it each time you’re asked a question during your interview.)

If you start to run out of time and are only halfway through your story, it can be a sign you need to begin wrapping up your answer.

On the other hand, if you finished your story, and there’s still significant time remaining, you may want to add more relevant details to take your story to the next level.

9. Practice more!

Because practice is so important when working to improve your speaking skills and bolster your confidence as a job seeker, it’s worth repeating my point. In this step, I want to focus on a different aspect of practice, though — addressing potential skills gaps.

Confident interviewees don’t get hung up on skills gaps, they pivot the conversation toward the qualifications they do possess.

As an interview coach, I don’t allow my clients to respond to mock interview questions with “No, I haven’t…” Instead, they’re required to leverage improv’s “Yes, and…” principle to focus on what they have done.

If you were asked, “What’s your experience with Java?” for example, but have never used the programming language, you might respond, “I’ve used C++, which is similar to Java…”

[Read: How Learning Improv Can Make You A Better Interviewee]

10. Aim for practice, not over-rehearsal.

Finally, while it’s important to spend ample time preparing for the interview process, you don’t want to come off as over-prepared.

Authors John Capecci and Tim Cage describe this balance as “practiced,” not “over-rehearsed” and say the goal is to be “flexible,” “authentic,” and “genuine” rather than “canned,” “rigid,” or “scripted.”

You might be tempted to use a script if you’re interviewing via Zoom, but please don’t. It’s obvious when you’re reading from one and makes for a mediocre interview at best.

Instead, I recommend creating a one-page cheat sheet with your top-level stories written in bullet point format. The notes for one of your stories might look something like this:

SaaS product launch

  • First B2C product launch
  • Aggressive KPIs set by C-suite
  • Collaborated with engineering, sales, marketing, legal, etc. across 4 time zones
  • Project timeline was reduced by 6 months due to IPO announcement
  • Cut costs through outsourcing
  • Launched in the U.S., then LATAM
  • Exceeded revenue goals by 3X

This strategy allows you to quickly reference your key talking points yet also requires you to expound upon them during the interview, making for a naturally flowing conversation that radiates confidence.

Final Thoughts On How To Speak With More Confidence When Interviewing

Please remember that speaking with confidence is a skill you can practice and continue to hone. At the same time, you likely already possess several of the qualities of a confident interviewee, and now it’s merely a process of integrating a few of these tips to take your presence to the next level.

On a final note, if you want to ensure your first impression is as fabulous as possible, please feel free to schedule a consultation to see if working with me as your coach is your next best step. I’m here for you! You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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