School is just around the corner, and for some of us, it's time to start thinking about our future. College... Jobs... Social circles... There's plenty to think about and some things take priority over others. However, there's an obvious yet sometimes overlooked skill that will help you lessen the burdens you might find on your shoulders because of those priorities: confidence.
An article from Forbes, titled "Confidence Breeds Success -- And It Can Be Taught" speaks about the need for confidence as a key ingredient for success in all aspects of life, especially the workplace/school environment. Despite the focus of the article specifically targeting women in the tech start-up industry; this notion is applicable to anyone in the setting of a professional interview or an application for something of great importance. There is no substitute for knowledge of the subject(s) that may be discussed in the duration of the interview, but more often than not, employers will chose a less knowledgeable yet confident candidate over an extremely informed yet nervous/shy candidate for the same position, regardless of whether the second person is equally/more qualified than the first individual. This has to do with interpersonal workplace dynamics and a confident individual has more of an edge in social matters and considerations for promotions.
I am in a 4-year program at my high school called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), where you have to register in 8th grade in order to participate in the program. I wasn't even supposed to know about AVID because my grades didn't fit into their target range, but my councilor let me witness the program and I decided to sign-up.
There were two parts to the application process: letter/questionnaire and one-on-one interview with the head of the program. I was utterly terrified at the prospect of an interview because part of me felt like I didn't belong in the program, but I had made it thus far. The moment I was due for my interview I decided to go into the session as confidently as possible, because I knew that they didn't need to know that I was nervous. That plan ended up a major success as I was accepted into the program as one of the first candidates.
These are some of the tips to portray confidence, even if you are everything except confident:
- Eye Contact: I cannot stress this point enough. Eye contact is a crucial element in displaying confidence. When people make eye contact, they will feel the full impact of whatever your saying as opposed to when you don't make eye contact. Eyes have been described as windows to the soul and this statement rings true. With eye contact you will appear confident and others will be left in awe.
- Refrain from "umms', "likes", "maybes", etc.: Stay away from certain words like umm, like, maybe, and others because they show a hesitation in your ideas and thoughts. Don't be afraid of the silence that may occur organically; use it to your advantage. Formulate what you want to say before you say it; this'll keep you away from the aforementioned words (like, umm, maybe, etc.) and you appear intelligent and confident to anyone in the interview.
- Posture: Posture is everything. A confident person's posture is upright (no slouches), relaxed (not too stiff), and exudes authority. Slouching signifies a lack of interest, not the best message to send to a potential employer or an admission officer. Being too stiff would make you seem uncomfortable and like you don't want to be there. Exuding authority gives the indication that you are a competent individual who knows what they're doing.
- Keep your hands visible and still: Fidgeting and shoving your hands somewhere hidden (e.g. your pockets) is a big no-no. Fidgeting is a tell-tale sign of anxiety and hiding your hands could be construed as disrespectful by some people. Keep your hands in a position to where they are still visible to whomever your talking to. If you feel the need to move your hands, use some moments to gesture and emphasis certain points.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.