I recently took a psychometric test which aimed to identify my core strengths. Most of the strengths listed made sense to me, and aligned with my view of what I am good at. One strength I was surprised to see there was self-confidence. Had the test processed someone else’s results? Did I misunderstand the test questions? While I wouldn’t say confidence was categorically a weakness of mine, I definitely wouldn’t have highlighted it as one of my strengths.
Confidence is something we often hear is key to succeeding at interviews and performing well in a job, but how can it be improved?
Is it simply about positive affirmations and trying to convince yourself you’re better than you secretly believe you are?
Should we just fake it ‘till we make it?
Perhaps things like that can help. But reflecting on my test results, one thing I attribute to improving my own self-confidence over the past couple of years is having a much deeper understanding of my strengths – and to a certain extent – my weaknesses. I have chosen a career that aligns with my strengths, and am lucky enough to use many of them on a day-to-day basis.
But I’ve been in roles before that haven’t been as aligned to my strengths, and my confidence suffered as a result. Many people I talk to that are struggling in their current role – or that are preparing frantically for an interview – ask how they can improve their confidence to enable them to perform at their best.
Here are my top 5 tips to grow your confidence either at a job interview or in your professional job:
1. Identify your strengths
Knowing your strengths is important. Strengths can be defined as things can come naturally to you, that you enjoy doing. While being competent at something means that you are able to do something, a strength means that you love to do it. More and more employers are using Strengths based recruitment processes as they are thought to result in better hiring decisions in the long-run, so it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of yours.
2. Understand what else makes you stand out
As well as your strengths, recognise the experiences or skills you have that are less common in the market place, and that could be considered your unique selling point (USP) as a professional. This could be a language skill, technical expertise, or having solid international experience.
3. Know how to showcase the above
Once you have a clear and deep understanding of your strengths and your USP, you need to ensure you are confident and clear at demonstrating these. If you’re interviewing for a role, this could be making sure you have solid and specific personal examples of demonstrating your strengths. If you’re already working, it’s about creating opportunities to showcase your strengths and demonstrate your expertise internally.
4. Have role models, but do things your way
It’s great to have people that you admire and look up to, but recognise the reasons why you respect them and adapt it to your own personal style. If you’re in a challenging situation at work or in a job interview, authenticity is really important, and you won’t feel good about yourself if you’re pretending to be something you’re not.
5. Don’t be afraid of your weaknesses
Finally, recognise and accept your shortcomings. No one can be good at everything, and you can demonstrate high levels of self-awareness and confidence by owning your weaknesses. Seek opportunities to push your comfort zone and develop any key areas you want to improve, but don’t be afraid to acknowledge you’re still learning.
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