Interview Tips: Success – Confidence or Competence?

At Brosna Career Consulting we see individuals with many different strengths and attributes in terms of how they present themselves for job or promotion interviews.  We also see a surprising number of individuals who, whilst having strong professional and technical capabilities, really find it difficult to succinctly communicate their relevant attributes under the pressurised and often stressful circumstances of a critical job interview.

We take the view (and this is based upon many years of helping talented individuals to be very successful at securing excellent promotions or job moves), that there are two distinct but complimentary strands to be worked upon to prepare and equip yourself to be outstanding at interviews:

1. Competence

Seeing the job interview process itself as a set of very specific skills and behaviours that, as such, can be learned and practiced until they become an integral part of your tool-kit for being successful.  For most of us applying for new jobs is not a monthly or even an annual process, so even where we have been successful in the past, our skills will probably be rusty, the context will certainly be different and (unless we chose to plan it this way) it may be difficult to practice and re-practice these skills before we go into the “for-real” job interview.

2. Confidence

Projecting a highly personable, self-assured, in control and assertive outlook to work, dealing with colleagues and confronting setbacks.  Such a set of attributes if mastered, will undoubtedly greatly impress any prospective recruiter, and will of course also be extremely useful in a wider sense for navigating your way through life’s highs and lows.

Competence and confidence are clearly highly related in an interview situation; the more competent, prepared and practiced you feel for an interview then of course the more confident you are likely to be in the way you communicate and engage with interviewers.  If you already see yourself as a confident individual, then the more precisely you can focus your energies on the specific skills needed to effectively convey how your capabilities match the requirements of the role, then the more you will seem the complete package to the recruiter.

To get you more focused on the additional competence and confidence you might need to develop when preparing for an important interview, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I feel about facing an interview situation – what positive feelings do I have and what am I most worried or anxious about?
  • When was my last job interview?  How did it go?  What did I do well and what not so well? What was the outcome?  What could I do so much better next time?
  • When in the past have I had a really successful outcome to a job interview i.e. secured the job?  What were the factors that made me so successful?
  • What are the five most significant job-related achievements I have had in the last two years; how could I honestly and succinctly describe these successes as a powerful illustration of my very specific skills and attributes?
  • If you were interviewing yourself what questions would you ask or areas would you explore to find out your true strengths?  How could you ensure that these very important factors were portrayed very positively in a real interview situation?
  • Who do I know or trust who could give me very honest feedback about how I am likely to come across in an interview situation, so I can use this information to improve my performance at the next important interview?

As for many things in life, developing both competence and confidence in interviews is a combination of thorough preparation, practice, feedback and a mindset that is willing to adapt and be persistent.  Individuals who develop this level of capability start the process early and are not afraid to seek the help and input of others at every stage.

If you need more immediate help, get in touch with us at 

Brosna Career Consulting