How to interview with confidence

May 11, 2010 at 2:42 am Leave a comment

Job interviews are up there with meeting the prospective in-laws, taking the SAT (especially if you haven’t prepared) and parallel-parking on a hill in a driver’s test with life’s truly nerve-wracking experiences. So much is on the line and yet so much is out of your hands — the interviewer’s personality and mood, the details of the job and the type of interview questions he or she may ask. You’d have to have ice running through your veins not to be nervous and at least a little anxious.

Yet confidence is among the most important qualities to display in an interview setting. A seemingly calm, confident, self-assured interviewee says to a hiring manager that they believe they are in the right place and can handle the duties of the job. Also, it’s human nature to want to be around and work with winners — and a more confident job applicant appears more successful. And sometimes, the best offense is a good defense (see April 27 post, “How to handle uncomfortable questions in an interview”) — by showing that you aren’t rattled by this situation, you are also indicating that you will be tough on deadline and prosper in difficult workplace situations.

But how do you develop that confident exterior for an interview, especially if this job is really important to you? Hiring experts and those who interview provide these suggestions:

*Seek out positions for which you are truly qualified. By going after jobs that really are right for you, you’re much more likely to be confident in your presentation and to be able to pitch your qualifications effectively. Conversely, if you’re going after a “stretch position,” you’re more likely to fumble answers or give speeches that have little to do with the details of this job that a hiring manager wants to discuss. Stay in your job lane, so to speak, and the chances of confidently pulling off the interview increase significantly.

*Research, research and more research. The more you know about the job, the organization and the team you hope to join, the more likely you will be able to have a conversation with the hiring manager. That’s your real goal here — to engage the interviewer in a discussion about this job and your suitability for it, rather than a Q&A session that’s more like a volleyball match than a meaningful chat. If you’re prepared, the interviewer has to spend less time lecturing you about the job. Of course, it’s also impressive that you care enough about this organization to have studied it — that really can put you several steps ahead of the competition. And don’t forget to research the individual (or individuals) who will be interviewing you. One manager at a D.C. news organization says he’s continually surprised that those interviewing with him haven’t done at least some research about him.  His tip: Google the interviewer.  “I had an open position recently and most of the interviewees knew nothing about me, even though a basic Google search will take you right to pages that tell you all about where I’ve worked in the past, my interests, etc.,” he writes. “You wouldn’t go to a news interview without checking up on a source beforehand,” he adds, and nor should job candidates walk into an interview without knowing something about the hiring manager. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be.

*Work on your public speaking skills, especially if this is an area where you’re lacking. Though you won’t be speaking to a room full of people, if out of nervousness you won’t be able to project well or make your points clearly to the interviewer or interviewers, then you need to brush up on these skills. Many local organizations or community colleges offer such classes. Or, if you feel like you need just a brush-up on public speaking rather than a full course,  practice interviewing with a friend or two — but don’t just go through the motions, set up an environment that will mimic the interviewer’s office setting. Have them ask you a series of questions and then evaluate not only how you answered, but whether you appeared prepared, confident, trustworthy and friendly in your interview style. If you don’t interview well with them, you won’t with a hiring manager who you haven’t met before. Work on this — it’s key to landing a good job.

*Don’t go too far in the other direction — no one likes an arrogant interviewee. While you want to appear self-assured, you don’t want to be cocky and you never want to take over the hiring manager’s role of interviewer. Let them lead. This sometimes can be tough for journalists, who are used to controlling interviews with news sources, but it’s necessary. (See Oct. 14 post, “When the interviewer becomes the interviewee…”) Answer their questions fully and politely and when it’s your turn to question them, do so in a friendly, conversational style — don’t put them on the spot. You don’t want your confidence to appear to be brashness — that could backfire badly with an interviewer.

*Events, events —

*Though this is very short notice — it’s happening this evening, Tuesday May 11, at the National Press Club in D.C.,  I thought I’d include it anyway as it looks like a good (free) opportunity to network with other journalists and to discuss how to ferret out information using the Freedom of Information Act:

Event: Bloomberg’s Winkler, WaPo’s Grimaldi, Headline FOIA Event

When: May 11

Where: National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“Bank Bailout Secrets and Other FOIA Discoveries” will be held Tuesday, May 11 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., featuring Bloomberg News Editor-In-Chief Matt Winkler, Washington Post Investigative Reporter James Grimaldi and Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The panel will discuss recent FOIA developments, including Bloomberg’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to force Federal Reserve disclosure of documents tied to $1.5 trillion of loans to banks.  Winkler, Grimaldi and Dalglish also will discuss tips for using FOIA to cover the federal government.

A reception will be held in the Bloomberg Training Center at 6 p.m. with complimentary beer, wine and appetizers, followed by the event at 6:30 in the First Amendment room. The program is open to non-Press Club members as well as Press Club members. There is no admission charge. The National Press Club is located at 529 14th St. N.W., 13th Floor, Washington, D.C., 20045.

This event is sponsored by the National Press Club’s Professional Development and Press Freedom committees, and by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Questions? Contact John Hughes at +1 (202) 624-1819 or

*And social media producers are invited to an event Wednesday night:

Wanted to let you know we’re planning on having a social media producer tweetup at Madam’s Organ in Adams Morgan on Wednesday. It’s 7p-or-later, and should bring together the best and brightest of DC’s social media set.
Look forward to seeing you!

Fwd: Tweetup -Social Media Producers (and Friends of NewsHour)

Wed, May 12, 7pm – 9pm
Madam’s Organ, Adams Morgan
Kate Gardiner

*Here is a variety of leads to pursue or pass along:

*The University of Maryland’s University College in Adelphi has an opening for an editor in the Office of Instructional Services and Support:

*Those with a science background might be interested in this next lead — the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in D.C. has an opening for a director of public affairs:

The Association for Psychological Science (APS), a 20,000-member scientific organization, is looking for an experienced, creative and energetic media professional to manage and lead a substantive multi-faceted communications program aimed at engaging the public in psychological science research and education through traditional media outreach efforts, social media, and technology-based resources. The ideal candidate will have an established background in journalism, with a minimum of six years experience; the ability to translate science for a broader audience; excellent organizational, communication and people skills; a network of established contacts; and experience in developing and implementing innovative public affairs initiatives and approaches. A background in psychological science or related field is a plus. APS publishes four world-class journals, and organizes an annual convention at which renowned scientists present their work. APS offers competitive salary and benefits and a collegial, fast-paced working environment. For further information about APS, visit Please send resume and salary requirements to Serious inquiries only; no calls. APS is an EEO employer; women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
Association for Psychological Science: Building a Science-First Foundation for Psychology

*American Progress, published by the Center for American Progress in D.C., has an opening for an assistant editor — this could be a good opportunity for a recent grad just starting out in publishing:

American Progress (Washington, DC) has an immediate opening for an Assistant Editor. The Assistant Editor will be a primary copyeditor for the Center, helping assure the quality of publications ranging from research reports to daily columns. Working in a fast-paced, journalistic environment as part of the team responsible for the production of both print and web content, the Assistant Editor will also have the opportunity to write and package content for the web and work on daily production for the website.

Responsibilities: * Copyedit American Progress policy papers and columns for both print and web. *Copyedit and other American Progress websites on a daily basis.   *Post content and make updates to and other American Progress websites.   *Maintain the style guide and its grammatical and style standards.  *Maintain accuracy and overall quality of publications.   *Write concise pieces that tie American Progress policy work to daily news events.  *Write headlines, briefs, and photo captions.  *Work on the conception and execution of special websites and projects.

Qualifications and requirements: *Bachelors degree.  *One to three years editing experience with an online component a plus. Recent graduates are encouraged to apply.  *Excellent editing skills, including a particular attention to detail and accuracy.  * Familiarity with AP or Chicago style guides. *Strong ability to work under time pressure and to work independently. *Strong verbal and written communications skills. *Strong organizational skills and problem-solving capabilities. *Experience with HTML, XML, and CSS a plus. *Experience with Photoshop a plus. * Commitment to the organization’s mission and goals.

*And to wrap up today’s leads,  the World Resources Institute in D.C. has an opening for a director of media relations:

Director, Media Relations, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC

WRI is seeking a superb manager and media relations leader who possesses expertise in the most current and relevant media relations strategies. The Media Relations Director is a key member of WRI’s Media Relations Team and External Relations Department, and is a front-line representative of WRI to local, national and international news media including print, broadcast and on-line media.
This position will involve both proactive planning and implementation of ambitious, comprehensive media strategies as well as reactive, rapid and daily interaction with media outlets on both specific issue projects and the institute as a whole.   The Media Relations Director will provide vision and leadership for implementing WRI’s comprehensive media strategy for the overall messages and reputation of WRI as well as for its individual programmatic focal points.

She/he will work to build the profile and credibility of WRI among key journalists, implementing agreed-upon media strategies and utilizing well-honed persuasive messaging on specific issues including climate change, ecosystems protection and services, sustainable business models and environmental governance.  She/he will work collaboratively with a wide range of individuals throughout the Institute, including the President and senior staff. The ability to continually coordinate, and share information with, key staff in the Programs, Development Department and External Relations Department will be crucial.

Apply online here:

Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

How little things can make a big difference in a job hunt Ways to open up your search — including for federal jobs

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