Balancing Humility and Confidence

by sysop in Career Pathways

the fine line 1

by Kristina Burroughs

What characteristics will show you in the best light for your next job interview? Job seekers often make the mistake of emphasizing their humility and deflecting all credit which makes it hard for the interviewer to feel confident about the candidate’s confidence in their own ability. The other extreme for recruiters and interviewers is the candidate who communicates overconfidence in his or her ability and does not emphasize the importance of collaboration and teamwork. That brings us to integrity, which is the foundation for striking a balance between these two characteristics. Integrity is a quality that the interviewer wants to see in the “right” candidate for the position.

Integrity can be loosely defined as conducting one’s affairs honestly and with courage. Humility, for most organizations, is defined as the ability to constantly seek to understand and constructively deal with reality in order to create value and achieve personal fulfillment. It is the ability to hold yourself and others accountable to serve the organization’s mission honestly. The humility and confidence combo is a tricky one but here are two simple guidelines to help you navigate these murky waters with integrity as your guide:

  • Tell the TRUTH. If you led a project but you could NOT have done it alone, say that! Be honest about your role and the role of other colleagues who helped make the project a success. If it was your idea and you did the work, it is okay to say that but be aware of how you tell the story. Be sure to exhibit honesty about what you really did without exaggerating the story. Background and reference checks will uncover any discrepancies.
  • SELF-AWARENESS is the cornerstone of humility and confidence. Know who you are, what you’re good at and enjoy. On the flip side of that coin, make sure you know what you’re not good at and what is demotivating in the long term. When an interviewer asks you what you’re former supervisor would say about your work and about any areas of improvement provide an answer. Be honest about what you’re confident about but humble enough to admit what your WEAKNESSES are.

In your next interview, be yourself but keep these things in mind. Integrity, humility, and confidence are hard to measure but the interviewers are looking for these “right” candidate qualities. You have one shot at helping the interviewer make up their mind about whether you possess these intangibles that most employers want in their next hire.