How to Portray Confidence during the Interview

In this article, we will be going over how to appear confident during your residency interview. For some, this comes naturally (and if that is the case, feel free to skip this article!), but for most people portraying confidence is an acquired skill. We will go over some of the most important steps to convey confidence, thoughtfulness, and a natural tendency for leadership.

Practice Your Interview Answers

Speaking involves both content and style. Content, or what you say, is the foundation from which you develop the rest of your interview. Without knowing what to say, having to pause and think about your answers rather than replying fluidly, and panicking to come up with content will absolutely kill your interview. Think of it this way: it’s easier to confidently recite a memorized poem than it is to conceive and recite a poem with confidence! Practicing your interview answers means knowing the content of what you are going to say, freeing your mental load to process how best to convey it. Style, or how you say it, involves body language, posture, intonation, and all manner of nonverbal cues which contributions toward an engaging conversation.

Make Eye Contact

One of the best ways to impress your interviewer is to keep a steady, natural gaze throughout the interview. Studies have demonstrated that eye contact builds trust and attraction. Most people who are struggling to think of answers will look away, so maintaining eye contact will automatically make you stand out. Maintaining good eye contact also naturally draws the attention of your interviewer in turn and leads to a more memorable conversation.

Avoid Unwanted Body Movements

Fidgeting, or nervous hand/leg movements, belie the true state of your psyche. When you are practicing your interview answers, be mindful of controlling your body movements and eliminating unwanted behaviors. Such behaviors may include clenching your hands together, tilting your head, twirling your hair, or shaking your legs.

Adopt a Relaxed Posture

Classically, the teaching for body posture during an interview is to sit straight and maintain erect posture without slouching or hunching. Leaning forward slightly conveys that you are engaged in the conversation, and naturally draws the other party’s attention. For me, I find that adopting a “relaxed posture” during an interview is the most advantageous. This may mean that you can recline slightly against the back rest of the chair, rest your elbows on the chairs armrests, or cross your legs. Being “relaxed” during an interview helps convey a calm and neutral state of mind, which reinforces your natural position as a physician leader and an equal to your interviewer. It is okay to be animated during your interview if that suits your style – feel free to use hand gestures, movements of your upper body and nodding of the head – all of which convey your energy and elevate the perceived value of your words.