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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cocky vs. Confident in Interview

Over the past few weeks, I have had a number of girls (and their moms) talk to me about being humble in interview:

"Oh I could never say that..."
"Oh I never brag about myself, so this is difficult..."
"Oh she always been the one to be humble, she never really talks about what she's accomplished..."
"Won't that come off as cocky or fake?"

I'm sorry to say that if you cannot tell the judges why you are awesome or why you are the best choice then you are doing yourself more harm than help in the interview room. You must be able to talk about your accomplishments, goals, ideas, plans, visions, awards, history, experiences etc because they are what make you, you. This is BAIT, not word vomit. This is enticing the judges, not sickening them. The interview is the only opportunity you get to quickly sum up why YOU are the perfect choice. The things you say in interview show the judges that YOU have earned your stripes and that you are qualified and ready....confident, not cocky. Now if you're aiming to just fade into the background and be considered 'just like everyone else'...then ok, don't tell the judges about you. If you want to stand out from the pack, you have to the flamingo in a pack of zebras - stand out!

The judges do not know everything about you. If they did, well, there would be no reason for an interview process. This is your opportunity to tell the judges why you're the best candidate for the "job" and why you are the perfect choice. If you cannot do this, you will fail because the judges will never get the chance to really know you, what inspires you, what motivates you, what you have done, and what you are capable of. What a waste of an interview! You must bait them. You must entice them.

We as women are taught to be humble. When we brag, people call us mean names - bossy, cocky...and some other not-so-nice words. When men brag, they are just spouting their resume. Stop falling into this gender trap and make a statement! Be bold, be fearless, and stand out!

How can you balance your "humble nature" and the "bragger nature" I want you to adopt? Here's a few ideas to get you started in finding your personal balance:

- Clearly define your past success in facts, not feelings. 
If you have the facts, use them (i.e. in 2012, I won the Young Author's Contest and the Creative Writing Award...I feel confident that being on the New York Times best sellers list is in my future! - if you have the facts, use them).

- When discussing past success, give credit where credit is due...acknowledge that others played a role as well. (I.e. was mom crucial in learning your time management skills? Was dad key in your talent development? Show the judges you know that others helped are not solely responsible for your successes...which have now turned into your 'brag points')

- Don't exaggerate your successes; tell the story as it is and be proud of what you did. Your stories are key, no one else can have an identical story! 

- Acknowledge failures/weaknesses BUT turn it around quickly to discuss the lessons learned or skills learned (stay positive). 
Never focus too much on a negative; drive your interview to the positive. Everyone has insecurities and a confident person knows what theirs are. Being honest and light-hearted/positive about them makes you both more likable and relatable. 

- Show your enthusiasm! 
So many girls fail to show facial expressions or emotions - you are not a robot, you are a human being who uses her hands, faces, and voice inflection to show genuine excitement. Your lack of expression will scare them, not invite them.

- Clearly state your enthusiasm for the position - let the judges know that you are excited for position by clearly identifying what makes you the perfect candidate. 
Do you have fabulous speaking skills? Can you network? Are you a people person? What makes you unique? Tell them! You can never ASSUME that they know these things about you.

- Do not assume that the judges will help you sell you. 
It is your job to drive the interview and discuss the topics that make you shine; sell them on you! Do not assume that the judges know that your 10 years as a cheerleader have made you an excellent team player and leader...tell them! Some people do not think the way you do - tell them what you want them to know!

You can also:

- Learn the art of the "humble brag".
I'm not asking you to be a jerk in the interview room. Of course not! I'm asking you to speak confidently about yourself...because the interview is indeed about YOU. Many people think that being close-lipped about themselves means they are being humble, but what they are really doing is selling themselves short. Keep in mind that the best products practically sell themselves once the consumer understands what the product is...when was the last time your favorite hair spray or toilet paper bragged to you? They don't have to! Once you understand the product, it sells itself! That is my point exactly - if you are close-lipped about what you have done or what you could do, the judges will never get to know you, and thus will never be 'sold' on you being the clear choice!

- Learn to speak about yourself in a tactful manner. 
If nobody knows anything about you, then how can they respect you or what you're bringing to table/job? You must establish rapport with your judges by using examples of things you've experienced first hand - your stories and talking about yourself establishes you as an experienced candidate for the job.

- Dress the part.
Don't pop your collar or wear your 7 inch heels to interview. Have the confidence to dress tastefully and not overly-flash your judges with jewelry, high-smelling perfume, or your lady parts. Enough said.

- Speak with purpose.
A confident person makes everyone around them feel better. A cocky person tries to make himself look better than others. So, you be the judge, am I asking you to be cocky? NO. I am asking you to go into that interview room with the purpose of making everyone in the room feel like you are MORE than capable and experienced to handle the job at hand. If you never tell them what makes you capable, you have no purpose...and you will have failed.

Stop sabotaging yourself by saying, "oh I never brag" and instead focus on telling the judges what you want them to know. I am NOT asking you to brag. I AM asking you to get over that word/idea of bragging and to remember that the judges do not know everything about you, so it is your job to give them the brief highlights in the SMALL period of time you have. If they didn't care about you and what you bring to the table, they would not be there, so use your time wisely.

Get over the idea of bragging. Seriously, get over it. The girl who wins is the girl who walks in with a plan, gives the judges a clear idea of what she is qualified, and demonstrates that she is capable of balancing discussions about her accomplishments, family, education, ambitions etc. Instead of focusing on the word "brag", I want you to focus on the idea that you drive your interview and that you are there to inform the judges about why you are the clear choice for the next titleholder. That is of course unless you do not believe that...and that's an entirely different blog post!

Also, get over the idea of being seen as 'too much' or 'fake'. I'm not asking you to present anything but your BEST SELF to the judges. Speak from the heart, speak from the experiences you have had, speak from your accomplishments - there is nothing fake about that - you earned those stripes, so talk about them! And be proud about what you are saying! No one has a resume identical to yours! Own it!

If you carry the same confident attitude throughout the interview and throughout the competition, it will come across as confident, not cocky or fake. I'm asking you to constantly be the best version of yourself. No one else. Nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, stay humble. That's all fine and dandy, but if you walk out of that interview room saying nothing that makes you special or different, you have wasted your time and your opportunity...and you have just walked away from the crown.


Parts of this post are inspired by: