How To Project Confidence

Question:

First of all, I would like to thank you for all the materials you shared. It is extremely valuable, the best out there! In my preparation I have used your video lectures, your mailing list for general advice, and your business analyst interview prep-course/book.

I have a Business Analyst Interview in Washington at the end of this week, I have passed the first round and will now be interviewing with a senior business analyst and project manager. This is by no means my first BA interview; in fact I have been rejected twice.

At my last interview, one of the interviewers commented at the end: “you have nothing to be worried about, just be confident”.

I was taken aback because although I was a bit nervous, I don’t think I did anything to warrant such a comment. I don’t want to come across as someone who is not confident; can you give me some insight on how I can project confidence?

Answer:

Congratulations on passing the first round of your business analyst interview!

I’ve been thinking about how to reply to this question for a couple of days now…and actually deleted my original reply to rewrite it.

I realized that the reason I have been struggling to answer your question is because confidence is such a broad term.

Considering your interview will be in a few days I didn’t want to get into all the facets of projecting confidence.

Instead, I will give you something that you can actually use to project confidence instantly.

That’s right instantly.

First, it is no secret that people like people who are confident.

They may not say it directly

“I really liked Jason because he had a good sense of confidence and that is why we should hire him“

That never happens.

But when someone comes across as confident

Not arrogant

It creates an irresistible likability  

You know when people say, “I had a good feeling about that guy“ or “there was something about that girl, I don’t know what it was“ or “I had a good vibe about him“.

They can`t really describe what it was but know that they ultimately liked that person, even if they had just met for the first time.

Confidence is the key ingredient that makes people just like someone without them doing anything special.

Confidence is not what you do. It’s how you carry yourself. It’s how you come across. It’s an unspoken language.

The unspoken language

Confidence is the unspoken language that nobody thinks about but is almost always indirectly observed by our subconscious.

A recent survey by Yale psychology students concluded “Candidates with an increased sense of confidence, fared better at obtaining job offers then their less confident counterparts.“

Now, I`ll admit – the term confidence is vague, broad and frankly conjures up images of various people who we think are confident.

I don’t know why but I think of Oprah and Bruce Willis – you may think of The Rock or Obama.

Nevertheless, let’s narrow down this huge term – Confidence – to one question.

What is the best way to project confidence?

It has taken me many years to come to this conclusion but the best way to project confidence is through eye contact.

Imagine this – you walk into a television store and the salesman comes to you and asks what kind of TV you are in the market for.

You say you want a 42 inch TV that is good for gaming.

The salesman shows you some TV`s and gives you a price, you ask “is this the absolute best price“, he says “yes, you cannot find this price anywhere else“

However, he suspiciously looks away.

Would you buy the TV?

Probably not, similarly when you are being interviewed – the hiring manager is considering the same thing. He or she is subconsciously analyzing your eye contact and how you come across.

Unfortunately, most people are not aware of their eye contact and unconsciously end up looking down.

I have hired hundreds of business analysts and interviewed hundreds more.

Through this experience I have discovered that the ability to make good eye contact is one thing that interviewees seem to struggle with.

They either look to the side, up, down. Everywhere but at the interviewer.

A countless number of studies have shown that candidates who make higher levels of eye contact come across as being:

  • Warm and personable
  • Attractive and likeable
  • Most qualified, competent, and skilled
  • More confident and emotionally stable
  • More trustworthy, honest and sincere

Not only that, higher levels of eye contact not only make you more appealing but it also improves the quality of the interaction, resulting in greater “likeability“.

Eye contact creates a sense of intimacy to your conversation, and leaves the interviewer with a positive feeling about your interaction.

You see, your interview is not only about understanding if you have the education and previous qualifications to do the job, but it`s also to determine if you are capable of connecting with others.

Connecting with others

Connecting with others is the basis of being a good business analyst, you will be facilitating communication among a variety of people, and you will be moving the project forward by speaking to different departments. The social aspect of a business analyst’s job is just as important as the technical.

The interviewer understands this and is assessing your ability to connect with him or her. If you cannot connect with the interviewer then how can you connect with the various individuals you will meet while you are a business analyst.

Why is eye contact so difficult?

You have probably heard the expression “the eyes don`t lie“ or “you can tell someone is a liar, if they don`t look you in the eye“ or the “eyes are the windows to the soul“.

Although farfetched, these expressions reflect our obsession with the extent our eyes reflect our character. Perhaps this is why eye contact is so difficult, we may be trying to hide something but we know that our eyes will give us away.

Maybe this is why poker players wear sunglasses… it all seems to make sense now ;)

So what are we trying to hide?

Accept your Insecurities

The truth is that insecurity is the real reason why we have such a hard time making eye contact.

We think that others may see our insecurity if we make eye contact for too long.

Individuals with confidence, have no problem making eye contact because they understand that insecurities shouldn’t stop you from being confident.

Everyone has insecurities, overcoming them doesn’t make you confident. Accepting them does.

How to make great eye contact:

But just because eye contact is a great tool to projecting confidence, it doesn’t mean that more eye contact is better or that all eye contact is created equal.

You have to do it right – at the right time and in the right way.

In order for eye contact to be effective, it needs to be welcome and appropriate. When eye contact is unwanted, it goes from gazing to staring, and being stared at is creepy and makes people uncomfortable.

Focus on one eye at a time and switch between them; unless you’re superman there is no possible way to look at both eyes at the same time. That’s why they call it “eye” contact, not “eyes” contact.

So look at one eye at a time and alternate between them, this makes your eye contact more natural while showing attention, interest and confidence.

I have been told that another technique is to just look at the spot in between the eyes, but I have  found that to be unnatural and artificial.

Don’t exaggerate it

More eye contact is good, up to a point. You don’t want to stare at the interviewer for the entire interview. Look at the interviewer’s eye for about 5 seconds and look away and then look back.

Find a natural rhythm and eventually you will be doing this automatically.

Look sideways

When you break your gaze, look to the side, now down. Looking down when you break someone’s gaze signals lower status, shame or submission. Not the kind of message you want to convey. Instead, break your gaze horizontally.

Overall, appropriate, welcome and natural eye contact is the key to connecting with the interviewer and is one of the best ways to demonstrate confidence.

All the best in your upcoming interview,

Andy

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Comments (4)

  • Julie Parbakar

    |

    Hi Andy, this article really resonated with me as I have issues with anxiety. I mean, usually I am okay and have no problems but for some reason interviews freak me out and I come across as very nervous.

    Not what I want at all, I want to come across as a competent, confident professional. This simple tip has helped me tremendously, as I find that creating eye contact makes me more aware of what is going on and keeps me relaxed.

    some other tips I would say for those that have a business analyst interview, is make sure you practice eye contact with others before. I know it sounds crazy to practice eye contact, but I find that it helps before you actually go into the interview. Anyway, thanks for everything!

    Reply

  • Jameel S

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    I already do eye contact pretty well as it was something I had struggled with in the past. A must have skill to demonstrate confidence in any setting (not only interviews). Look sideways!

    Reply

  • Satvir Dhillon

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    I liked how I can instantly use this technique for my interview, we often forget just how important eye contact is and this served as a good reminder. Looking forward to your future emails.

    – Sunny

    Reply

  • Derek H.

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    Awesome tip! – Andy, why don’t you post this on Google+, I am sure the community will find this very beneficial.

    Reply

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