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3 Secrets to Career Success (part 3) - Confidence

by James Callander October 25, 2011


By Phil Bolton – Career Coach – Less Ordinary Living

In part 3 of this series on landing your ideal job, you’ll learn how to feel confident and well prepared for your next interview.

What makes a confident interview candidate?

1. Be well prepared

Imagine interviewing you are interviewing someone for a job who clearly has little idea what it is that your business does?

What kind of impression would that candidate make with you?

You might remember them, but for all the wrong reasons.

To stand out as the ideal candidate, it pays to do some research.  The more you know about your new employer and their business, the better.

Importantly, when you’re well prepared and have a solid understanding of the role you’re applying to, you’ll be able to approach an interview with confidence.

The following ideas will help you to build your knowledge and confidence:

  • Request and review annual reports, company brochures, sales materials and any other publications

  • Review the company website in detail

  • Review the results of a Google news search about your target organisation

  • Read about the marketplace – online, and in trade journals

  • Talk to others in similar jobs / companies if you can

  • Ideally try to speak to others in the organisation in advance through an informational interview

Each of these steps will build your knowledge, improve the quality of your answers and importantly make you feel really well prepared and confident.

2. Get clear on your skills

How much do you enjoy talking about yourself?  Can you confidently share your experiences and demonstrate your range of skills?

Confident candidates can give and concise examples which showcase their background and the key skills needed for the new role.

A good example follows a simple but effective format and typically highlights one skill in particular in between 60 and 90 seconds:

Situation (25%)– What were the circumstances you faced?  What were the biggest challenges and opportunities you identified?  What was the goal you set for yourself?

Actions (50%) – What specifically did you do to achieve these goals?  What actions did you take?  What skill(s) did you use to do that?

Results (25%) – What specifically were the results?  How were they measured?  What was the feedback?  What did you learn as a result?

For example here is an example of how a confident candidate might answer a questions asking for an example of delegating effectively:

Situation: I was managing a team of 5 people helping a particularly grumpy client to design a new controls system for their company.   At short notice, the client requested a 100 page draft report about their receivables system finished in 3 days.   All my team were at full capacity on the existing project work and I didn’t have the expertise available to fulfil this request.

Action: I enlisted the help of 4 appropriate colleagues from a different team in my company.  I drew up a work-plan and allocated the work between the team based on their skills and experience.  I briefed each team member and set a deadline to have their section ready in draft within 48 hours.  I set clear reporting expectations and solved a problem for one of the team who couldn’t get the appropriate information from the client.  After careful review and revision of the draft work, I used the most skilled 2 colleagues to help me pull together and produce the 100 page report.

Results:  The report was delivered 4 hours ahead of deadline and including additional analysis the client had not requested.  The results of the report highlighted some key efficiency savings which have helped the client save over £1m per quarter from their £50m receivables.  The client was delighted with the work and extended the project for another month.

This story would be ideal if you were to be asked “Tell me a time when you successfully delegated to others?”.  It is much more effective than the typical answer which goes something like: “Well my delegation style is to be effective but fair etc. etc. etc.”

As you can see from the examples, each section of the story should contain as many specifics as possible.  Interviewers love specifics as it gives them evidence to justify their selection for the successful candidate. The story is short snappy and full of information.
These examples also highlight other skills (in this example: problem solving, working to tight deadlines, creating a strong team, developing relationships with clients).

To develop confidence and be well prepared for interview, take time to create an example for each of your core skills and attributes.

When you have developed the stories, practice them on friends, family, and anyone tolerant enough to listen.  Seek feedback.

You should feel your confidence grow as you pull each story together and get comfortable telling it.

When it comes to interview, you’ll be able to confidently outline your key skills and experience. 


Preparation and practice help make perfect.  Through background research and being able to articulate your skills, you’ll feel confident in any interview and be prepared to land your ideal job.

Next week we’ll be looking at secret number 3 - Charisma

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