Find Your Dream Job, Episode 282:
How to Show Confidence in a Job Interview, with John Ribeiro
Airdate: February 10, 2021
Hi, this is Mac Prichard.
I had a cycling accident recently and broke several bones. While I recover, I need to take a short break from podcasting.
So through March 3, we’re sharing some of our most popular interviews from the last five years.
I hope you enjoy them and thank you for being a listener.
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the publisher of Mac’s List. It’s an online community that connects talented professionals with meaningful work.
I believe everyone can find a job they love. But to do this, you need to learn the skills to build a successful career. From professional networking to personal branding, you’ve got to get good at job hunting.
This show helps you do this. Every week on Find Your Dream Job, I interview a different career expert. We discuss the tools and tactics you need to find the work you want.
This week, I’m talking to John Ribeiro about how to show confidence in a job interview.
John Ribeiro was a hiring manager for many years. And he saw many people struggle with showing confidence in a job interview.
In our conversation today, John tells me that confidence comes with preparation. He found, as a manager, that the people who get ready for an interview appear much more self-assured.
John says confidence also comes from storytelling and being yourself. So he encourages you to have anecdotes ready and always be authentic.
Body language and mindset also matter, according to John. And he gives practical suggestions in our conversation for how you can bring your most confident self into the interview room.
Want to learn more? Listen in now at the Mac’s List studio as I interview John Ribeiro about how to show confidence in a job interview.
John Ribeiro gives people what they need to ace a job interview. He prepares you with the skills and mindset to answer those tough questions that will lead you to a job offer.
John is also a veteran hiring manager. And he’s a professional public speaker, podcaster and co-author of the book, “Zero2hired: Successfully Break Through Your Interview Process”.
He joins us today from the city of Woodbridge in the Canadian province of Ontario.
John, thanks for being on the show.
Thanks for having me on the show, Mac.
Yeah, it’s a pleasure. I’m a big fan of your podcast, which is called Zero2Hired as well. I know your co-host, Connel Valentine, is going to be on our show later in 2019. I’m looking forward to chatting with him.
Today, you and I are talking about job interviews and how to show confidence. I have to say, I think it’s understandable that people become nervous about a job interview.
John, in the work that you do with people, what are the common reasons you see for this nervousness?
The reasons for the nervousness. Well, it comes from a variety of different things. I think if I were to think about it, it comes down to just lack of preparation. It comes down to the mindset that people actually bring into the room with them. Some of their past failures that carry through into the interview.
It’s really how they display themselves. How they show their utmost confidence. You’re nervous, and when you’re nervous, a lot of things show up that shouldn’t show up. If you’re conscious of these things, then they won’t show up. You can be successful going forward.
I think a lot of it is just lack of preparation and just trying to wing it. I see a lot of people get into the interview room trying to wing it, trying to create their stories off the top of their head, and really not going in as well-prepared as they could be.
John, why do you think people wing it? I see that a lot and I have to confess, earlier in my career, I did that too. I’d walk into the room thinking, “Well, this will be an interesting conversation.” I can tell you why I did it but I’m curious in your work with people what are common reasons you see why people wing it?
I think there’s a couple of reasons. A couple of reasons as to why people wing it is, I think what it comes down to is people underestimate what they actually need to bring to the table. By winging it, they think, in their head, they keep replaying these stories, these situations, these scenarios in their heads where they think they’re delivering their message a particular way.
When they show up, because of the nervousness and because of the lack of preparation, they’re not successful in getting their message across. If you think about it this way, imagine having somebody like a Bill Gates deliver a keynote and not ever rehearse it. Or even Steve Jobs when he used to deliver his keynotes.
Imagine he got up onstage and he winged it. He would be a total failure because you can’t deliver that type of message to such a big audience.
The same goes for candidates that are in the room. When you try to wing it, there are so many other variables that you’re concerned with that make the situation, I’m going to call it a bust or a failure. Because you’re not bringing what you need to bring to the table.
By underestimating what you actually need to bring, it really causes you to lose or to make that first good impression with the hiring manager.
You’re not showing a lot of confidence either when you’re winging it, are you, John?
No, absolutely not. It ends up showing. There’s scientific information out there around how it shows up physically in your body. What you’ll find is people start to curl their bodies in. Their shoulders start to curl in, they start to look away.
There’s physical science that you’re not confident because you’re making things up as you go along. The preparation piece helps you get over that.
Let’s talk about preparation, John. What kind of preparation do you recommend?
When it comes down to preparation, there are a few things that I like to do or one of the things I like to do with my candidates when they go into a room…first thing is really understanding the organization you are applying to.
Depending on the company you are applying for, you want to make sure you know as much about that organization as possible. One of the things I tell people to do is to automate things.
I’m an IT guy. I’ve got a background in IT and if things are coming to me versus me going out and researching for it, it’s going to help me become more prepared.
For example, what I would do, if I was interested in an organization like Verizon, I would set up a Google Alert to send me information on Verizon and things that are happening at Verizon.
For example, I know Verizon just bought Yahoo, and because there’s a big Google alert that teaches me these things I’m learning this information. Knowing as much as I can about the organization is key.
Also, learning about the person who’s going to be interviewing me. In most cases, you will have the name of either the HR recruiter or the hiring manager when you get the invite for the job interview.
One of the things I tell my candidates to do, my clients to do, is to go in and research them on LinkedIn. Find out about them, to understand what type of common connections you might have with them, to understand what their interests are, and try to find links so that you can create those conversations before you show up in the room.
Going in knowing who’s going to be interviewing you and the type of organization you’re with and what kind of culture and values they have is going to help you align with that.
The other piece is, so now that you know about the organization, you know about the person who’s hiring you, you have to know your stories really well. Mac, I know you’re pretty familiar with the STAR format.
The situation, task, action, results. One of the things I tell people is, look for the interview questions on Google. When in doubt, Google it out. Find all the interview questions that you’re possibly going to be getting. Then, prepare your STAR responses to each of those questions.
I know Forbes.com has the 20 most asked interview questions. What you should be doing, you should prepare your responses to each one of those questions before you show up. In terms of preparation, now you have your stories, you have your STAR stories.
The next I tell people to do is to rehearse your stories, so you’re not telling it for the first time in the room to the hiring manager. I even advise people to have somebody that they can do a mock interview with. Share that story, those stories, and do a run through of an interview with them so they can rehearse those stories, so they become natural and fluid.
If you think about it, it’s like doing a Hollywood script. Actors when they deliver their message, it’s very fluid, very natural. When you say your story often enough, you start to engrain it into your memory, into your subconscious, so it comes out natural and fluid.
That’s why I talk about preparation as going in, knowing your information, knowing about the people that are bringing you in, knowing about your audience, and then knowing about the organization.
The process you’ve outlined is so similar to what all of us do if we have an important business meeting. Say a presentation to a top client, or we’re going to speak to a legislative body. We wouldn’t just walk in the room and speak extemporaneously.
We would do all the things that you talked about. Know the audience, understand the background of the people that you’re meeting with, prepare material, answers to questions, or key talking points, and then rehearse and rehearse and rehearse.
Why do you think people, John, who are well along in their careers and have had those experiences don’t invest in this kind of preparation before a job interview?
I think it’s just comfort, Mac. I think that people just get really comfortable and complacent. They don’t think they need it. It’s the mindset of, “Well, I’ve reached a particular point in my career. Why do I need to prepare for this? I know. I do this day in and day out.”
An interview is very different from just meeting people socially. An interview is, you’re trying to sell somebody on a point that you can do…you’re selling them on something that you can do for them in terms of value.
One of the things we teach our clients is, understand what your value proposition is to the hiring manager so that’s what you feed them. That’s the information that you should be bringing across. “This is how I can bring value to your organization through my skills and experience.”
I find that people who have been complacent in their roles for a while, they just forgot the basics. It’s like riding a bicycle. You know how to do it so you don’t think about anything else. You don’t think about pulling the levers on the hand brakes, or changing gears as you’re climbing up a hill.
They’re just natural. When you’re going into an interview, you have to make that impression. You have to stand out. You have to be different from the 300 other different candidates that are also applying for the same role.
The competition out there is insane today. If you can’t distinguish yourself from the other candidates, you’re just going to blend in with everybody else. That preparation is what’s going to make you stand out.
This is where I’m a firm believer that when you go in fully prepared and you’re ready to take them on, you have everything ready with you, your confidence goes up to an all-time high. Also, the message you deliver is valuable.
I think that’s what’s key for this.
I love the process that you outlined for preparation. One point I didn’t hear you make was actually recording mock interview sessions. I’ve been on the receiving end of that myself and had to watch myself on camera.
It’s painful but it’s helpful too, isn’t it, John?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Actually, it’s a great point that you made, Mac. What I advise people to do is actually, if they don’t have a video camera and in most cases, everybody has a video camera, if you have some kind of modern mobile device today, but the other option is recording the audio and listening to yourself.
One of the things I advise people to do is to listen to their stories before they actually get into the room. This way, you’re not contaminating your mind with other information that’s out there, like the news, the media, things that are happening on your way to the job interview.
You’re constantly reinforcing the message that’s going back into your head.
I liked your point too about how this kind of preparation helps with confidence. When we practice our stories and we rehearse them, they become part of our memory. Almost like a muscle memory.
What are some of the other benefits of preparation to self-confidence in a job interview?
Some of the other benefits to it as well, Mac, is it starts to get you into the right mindset. What I find is, our clients tell us all the time, “I don’t feel confident walking into the room.” A lot of them, it’s because their language skills or they’re new to the country and they struggle with getting their message across in the way they communicate to us.
What they end up bringing into the room with them is this mindset of, “I can’t do this.” Or, “I’m not going to be successful.” The mindset of, “I’m not good enough.”
The preparation pieces start to switch your mindset around. “Yes, I can do this. I do have the skills and experience to be successful.” The mindset starts to switch to something that is more positive.
What you end up leaving at the door is all the bad baggage of all the times that you weren’t successful because of not being prepared well enough. I find your mindset is the second most important thing that you bring to the room with you.
If you bring your past history (and if it wasn’t a successful history), into the room with you, you’re not going to be successful.
I want to talk more about mindset. We’re going to take a quick break. When we come back, John Ribeiro will share more advice about how to show confidence in a job interview.
Everybody gets nervous about a job interview. I certainly did more times than I can count throughout my career.
And we all know that preparation, before you walk into an interview room, makes a big difference.
As John has said today, when you do your homework, you become more confident.
As you get ready for your next interview, you need to plan for what career experts call behavioral interview questions. Here’s an example of one:
“Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with your boss.”
You don’t want to come up with your answer on the spot. Instead, you need a strategy before the interview so you can respond with confidence.
I’ve got a new free guide that can help. It’s called 100 Behavioral Interview Questions You Need to Know.
It’s short and easy to use. In it, I show you how to answer these kinds of “gotcha” questions.
Get your free copy today. Go to macslist.org/questions.
You will get a list of 100 of the most common behavioral interview questions. So you can practice before you meet an employer.
Don’t let a simple question from a hiring manager unnerve you. Go to macslist.org/questions.
Because you can’t know every question an employer might ask, I also lay out a simple four-step process. It shows you how to answer any behavioral question.
Show the confidence you need to get your next job offer. Go to macslist.org/questions.
Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back at the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking this week with John Ribeiro. He’s a career coach, the author of Zero2Hired, and an expert in job interviews. John joins us today from the city of Woodbridge in the Canadian province of Ontario.
John, before the break, we talked about the importance of preparation and how it helps with self-confidence. You were also describing the benefits of paying attention to mindset and the boost it can give self-confidence in a job interview.
Can you tell us more about that?
Yes, absolutely. In terms of mindset, I mentioned it earlier that what I find is people end up bringing these old mindsets into the room with them that cause them to not be successful. Some to the point where they forget what they’re talking about altogether because of negative things that have happened to them in the past.
When I talk about mindset, and when I talk about bringing a positive mindset, and really this is what you should be bringing into the room with you, is a positive mindset to be successful in that situation.
If you take, for example, what I find a lot of people do when they’re in the waiting room for an interview, is they’re watching the media that’s happening. There’s always a television that’s going on in the room. The information on the screen is contaminated with negativity.
I find a lot of media outlets, if it bleeds, it leads. That’s the information that they share out with the public. When you watch that right before you go into the room, you’re bringing that with you. That negativity, that is not reinforcing what you’re trying to get across.
What we tell our clients to do is clear your mind, stay away from the media before you actually walk in, just try to be in the moment. To the point where you’re turning off all your electronic devices, if you have things like, for me, I’m big on taking off my watches, and just putting everything away.
Even taking my keys and just putting them in a place where they’re not going to be a distraction for me. With those things out of the way, I can focus and be in the moment.
Really, mindset brings me to that space of, “This is the message that I want to bring across and this is how I’m going to do it. I’m going to talk with all my genuine self to deliver that message back to the person across the table.”
Having that clear mindset around delivering that positive message is really what’s going to make you successful.
I know too that storytelling can help people with confidence. Can you tell us more about that?
Storytelling, yeah, absolutely.
For me, storytelling is one of the oldest ways of getting information across. What I find is when people deliver stories, they leave out key points. The key data points. Let me give you an example of what I mean by that.
If I’m talking about, you know, one of the questions are, “Tell me about a time that you provided excellent customer service.” Or, “Give me a situation where you went above and beyond in your role to be successful.”
When you’re telling your story, you’re going to use your STAR. You’re going to use the situation, you’re going to walk through it. You’re going to talk about the various tasks that you did and then you’ll talk about actions.
What I find, in North America, when you talk about actions in your story, depending on where you come from in the world, in other countries, it’s acceptable to use the word “we.” In North America, using the word “I” in the story actually identifies what you did specifically, the actions that you took.
It’s okay to say, “I did this, and I did that. These are the steps that I took to make this successful.” Going back to the STAR model, the last piece is the result. We talk about what the outcome was.
What I find sometimes is people shy away from the times they weren’t successful. They want to talk about all the successes that they’ve had but not the actual results where things didn’t work out so well.
I like those stories. I like the stories of where things didn’t work out because I want to know what the lesson was. As long as you can give me the lesson from that story, then I know that you’re capable of adapting to situations that are going to happen to you.
There’s going to moments in work where things aren’t always going to be successful. If you can highlight an entire story and tell me that it was a failure but tell me what the lesson was, that’s going to make you stand out.
Not everybody is going to be telling that story to the hiring manager.
If they do get a question about a time when something didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped or they’re asked to describe a failure, if they’re not prepared and they don’t have a story ready, they’re probably not going to come across as very confident. Are they?
No, not at all. They’re just going to come across not prepared.
It’s interesting because it’s a simple thing. You think about it; people get nervous, and they get nervous for reasons they shouldn’t be nervous for. The way I describe it to my candidates is, think about it like going to a barbecue.
When you go to a barbecue, you tell your stories and they’re very natural and very fluid. Actually, put yourself in the situation of a barbecue or a party where you’re just sharing information.
For whatever reason, when they get across the table from somebody who might have an impact on the rest of their lives through a job, things change. That confidence starts to drop. If you go in with the same type of attitude and preparedness you go to a party with, you’re going to be successful.
You’re going to bring all the good things that you would normally bring into a conversation into that interview with you.
Now, authenticity is important as well, isn’t it, John? You shouldn’t try to be someone that you’re not in a job interview. It can have an effect on your confidence as well.
Absolutely. I find when people aren’t sincere and when they’re not genuine and authentic in their stories and the way they deliver their message, you can see it. There are telltale signs of people not telling the truth and people not being forthcoming with the information that they’re trying to share.
A lot of it just comes down to the way they start to show up in their body language. One tell-tale sign is people take their hands and they put them underneath the table. From an NLP (I’ve got a background in Neuro-Linguistic Programming), a telltale sign like that says, “I’m keeping information to myself. I’m not sharing it with you. Maybe because I’m not being completely and totally honest with you.”
You can see people eyes start to light up when they start telling the truth because you start to see that connection.
What other tips do you have for body language that not only signals authenticity but self-confidence, too?
Great question, Mac.
A big one, and I find, people who come into interview rooms with low self-confidence, one of the things that they don’t do is, they don’t make eye contact with the hiring manager. One of the first things I tell my candidates to do is just make eye contact with the hiring manager.
Not in a way that’s creepy, because I know if you stare too long, it kind of looks funny, but in a way that’s part of regular conversation. Making eye contact is a key sign of confidence. I’ve seen this time and time over, when people aren’t confident, they’re nervous, they’re not feeling good about themselves, they’ll be looking around the room.
I’m sure you’ve seen this, Mac. It’s distracting and you feel like they’re not telling you the truth, and they’re making things up, depending on if they’re looking to the right or to the left. Eye contact is one of the big things. Make eye contact. It’s very simple.
The other one is to bring, what I tell people, if it’s at a table and a table type situation, is to bring their hands on top of the table. This starts to show a little bit of openness. With your hands, typically you would, most people depending on how you’re seated, might keep their hands together.
I tell candidates to keep their hands open. It’s a sign of openness. “I’m here to share my information. I’ve got nothing to hide from you.”
There’s a speaker I follow and he talks about the truth plain. The truth plain is just really not to cover your abdominal region. That’s a sign of hiding and protecting. When you open up your hands and you bring them out onto the table and you’re just having a conversation, it shows that openness with the other person on the other side of the table.
Well, it’s been a great conversation, John. I love your emphasis on preparation and the points you’ve made about storytelling and the value of authenticity, as well as your closing tips about body language.
Again, all of these things are a means to an end, which is showing the confidence that is going to make you stand out as a candidate when you’re competing against 2, 3, maybe 5 other people. Isn’t it, John?
Yes, absolutely. It’s really tough out there. Any slight edge you can give yourself to be noticed is, to me, that’s the most important thing. This is what we try to teach our people, is to be noticed in a way that’s positive.
Tell us more about what’s next for you.
What’s next for us. Well, thank you, Mac. We are in the process of…we do have an online course and what we do is we help people in Canada and North America, actually globally, find work through our online course.
We walk them through a process. What we do is, we provide insight on how to actually look at a resume, how to break it down, and actually how to get into the nitty-gritty of, you know, we talked about confidence, and preparation. How to actually fully prepare for the interview process.
The online course and what we just recently did is we prepared a free online course for people who sign up to our school on Work Culture. We talk about how to relate to your manager, how to connect with your teams, and really how to bring confidence so you can succeed into the next role within that organization.
Well, I know people can learn more about your course and your organization by visiting your website. That address is Zero2Hired.com. John, thanks for being on the show this week.
Thanks for having me, Mac. It’s been a great pleasure.
Likewise. Take care.
I hope you enjoyed that conversation with John. For me, two points that he made stood out.
One was the process that he described for how to get ready for an interview. We’ve certainly covered some of these points in previous podcasts but I liked his point that when you do these things, it makes you a much more self-confident interviewee.
The second point he made was about the benefits of self-confidence. How that can help you shine in a job interview and get you even closer to that job offer.
With that thought in mind, I hope you’ll take a look at our new guide, 100 Behavioral Interview Questions You Need to Know.
It shows you how to get ready, and how to answer those behavioral interview question you know you’re going to get.
Go to macslist.org/questions to get your copy today.
The next time you walk into that interview room, make sure you’ve got my four-step process that shows you how to answer these questions.
Go to maclist.org/questions.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.
I hope you join us next Wednesday. Our guest will be Lynn Marie Morski. She’ll explain how to overcome your fears about quitting your job.
Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.
This is Mac Prichard again. I hope you enjoyed this interview from our archives.
Please join us next week as we share through March 3 some of our most popular interviews from the last five years.
And thank you for being a listener.