How to handle your insecurities in a job interview


Don’t bring an elephant to the interview room


If you get nothing from this post, get this: smile, smile, smile, in the job interview. A candidate that is always smiling will appear comfortable and confident with themselves. Recruiters and hiring managers want to surround themselves with comfortable and confident. Wouldn’t you?

If you think you have a shortcoming, forget about it. Fake it. Don’t bring it up and don’t make excuses for it. Don’t bring attention to your thinning hair, your height, weight, age, lack of experience, too much experience or any other insecurity you may have. 

Signal you are comfortable with yourself

Most people want to work with people who are comfortable with themselves, considerate of others and want to work hard. Ask yourself about co-workers that you enjoyed working with in the past. We bet that you are remembering co-workers who were considerate, took initiative, helped you learn, were responsible, and generally “positive people”.  Age, weight, hair, or experience probably didn’t make the list. If you were to ask 20 people what they look for in their co-workers, they aren’t going to mention physical looks.

Recruiters at CareerTracker have hired candidates in every protected class. We have hired minorities where English was a second language, and candidates over 40, over 50 and over 60 years of age. Handicapped candidates, veterans, and individuals of different religions and sexual orientation have all been hired. Can you imagine anyone in these categories being hired if they made their differences an issue?

Avoid negotiating against yourself

In every case, these folks were competent in their fields, and during the interview conducted themselves in a professional and confident manner. Of course, they were very aware of their differences, but they didn’t let them get in the way. They didn’t overcompensate for the difference, and they didn’t undercompensate for them. Differences were not brought up and no excuses were made. Differences were a “non-issue”.

Insecurity signals

Candidates who will be perceived as having an insecurity about their age might say:

  • This is before your time, but when I was working at AcmePublishing we would. . . .
  • You have a lot of young people here, you probably wouldn’t hire someone like me. . . 
  • When I started in this industry, we didn’t have computers. . .

Don’t make your insecurity a thing

The above are not blatant statements about personal insecurity, but when we make these types of statements, the insecurity becomes a “thing”. It suddenly becomes the elephant in the interview room and that elephant didn’t have to appear. We brought the elephant into the room.

After talking with 1000’s of candidates, in our opinion, if you are positive, confident about your “perceived” appearance and, and communicate in a confident manner, people will listen. If you want to be perceived as confident, be quick to smile. When they talk, they are literally smiling. Smiling puts others at ease and signals the interviewer that you are comfortable with yourself.

Key Takeaway: If you are insecure about something about yourself, the best thing you can do is to not bring it up and smile, smile, smile.

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