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Friday, April 24, 2015

Even if you have enough competence, fake confidence in the interview

Dr Tomas distinguishes between internal confidence and external confidence. He advises us to fake external confidence.Why? Because people cannot 'evaluate' competence. Neither they have the 'ability', nor the 'time' to evaluate the competence. And because they cannot evaluate competence, they use 'confidence' to evaluate it. 

Most lack the ability to evaluate competence due to two reasons. One, because our work today is too specialised, we cannot evaluate the speciality. What would you do, for instance, to evaluate a doctor for treating your child? Specialisation has become so narrow, that even a 'gynecologist' doctor cannot evaluate a 'cardiac surgeon' doctor. Even if you are interviewed by a Software executive in a company, he would not know about your specialised course you have taken in Business Intelligence Software. 

The second big reason for inability to evaluate competence is insufficient contextualisation. Even when a senior professional is interviewing a junior in the same field, say in Design, the senior views everything from his 'blue lens'. Senior professional often has strong views of 'what is right' and views everything from his 'own shoes'. This colors the evaluation. 

But the biggest reason, why one cannot evaluate competence, is lack of time. This is especially true in campus placements where many candidates are being interviewed one after another. Time is insufficient and shortcuts are taken to evaluate competence. 

One of the short cut taken is Confidence. So, if you appear to be confident, you will be seen as 'competent'. The correlation between the two has been proven so strongly that it is used in many situations like Selling, Advising or Public talking. Despite knowing this, I often fall in this trap so many times. Yesterday, I had gone on a public talk by a famous celebrity writer. Even though the writer had no credentials/competence on 'why people are successful', everyone was taking her advice of 'success' seriously, because she was confident. 

How to fake external confidence 

So how to fake confidence in an interview, even though you do not like to 'show off'. You can use 5 different mechanisms: 

One, always wear your best dress for the interview. Even if you are going for an interview after a long bus ride, clean yourself and change your clothes before you enter the interview room. If you can afford, wear coat. If you can't at least wear a tie. The dress is good for both the reasons: for feeling confident as well as to show that you are confident. 

Two, always 'rehearse' the answers to the standard questions in front of a mirror.  Standard questions are "Tell us about yourself", 'What are your strengths", ' Why did you do mechanical and not IT', 'Why are you suitable for the job" and so on. While answering these questions, assume that they already like you. If, on the contrary, you believe that they do not like you, your behaviour will be defensive and cold, leading to consequent rejection. Therefore, do not avoid making positive statements. Be as much as positive as is 'plausible' for the interviewer. Frame your responses in well rehearsed statements in a way that you want to be perceived. Remember, when you bought your mobile, you were being told only about all the 'positive features' of your mobile. 

Three, prepare your answers on projects or important assignments thoroughly. Once again rehearse them. Do not be modest about your work or your contribution. Just say it clearly and loudly. And say it slowly, not hastily. If questions are asked, listen to the question fully before answering.  If some question is asked in difficult English, ask them to 'repeat it'. Understanding a question wrongly is a sure sign of 'lack of confidence'. I have seen a graduate from rural area passing in an interview, even though he was forced to speak in his vernacular mother tongue to explain something 'technical'. Root cause of rejection in interview is rarely English. 

Four, if you do not know an answer to the question, say ' I do not know' while looking in the 'eyes' of the interviewer and without 'fidgeting' in your seat. Do not think that you must know the answers to all the questions. Infact, this is the best sign of showing confidence. 

Five, be prepared to ask your set of questions at the end of the interview. Do the necessary homework, but asking questions at the end is a good sign of 'confidence'. Please remember that even though someone is  'evaluating' you for the job, you are also 'evaluating' them as a company. So ask questions about 'why should you join the company'. Many times, i have advised students to go for a important interview after they have a 'job offer' from a lesser known company. This relaxes them and makes them ask questions that shows the confidence.


Please remember this is part of Selling skill required to influence the job-market. It is therefore part of Career intelligence. 

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