Confidence vs. Arrogance in the Job Interview

Confidence vs. Arrogance in the Job Interview

Congratulations! You’ve been invited to interview with one of the companies you’ve been targeting in your job search.

Now you need to start preparing for this specific opportunity. But how should you tailor your answers? You want to show that you are a good fit for the position, but at the same time you don’t want to come across as being cocky.

Unfortunately, some job seekers go too far and make the mistake of downplaying their achievements when not wanting to be seen as arrogant. This ends up working against them because the interviewers can’t get an accurate picture of what these candidates will bring to the company and what they will be like day-to-day.

“But,” you may protest, “HR has seen my CV. They already know what I’ve done and what I can do. Isn’t talking about it too much in the interview like bragging?”

No, it’s not, and here are the reasons why:

  1. There may have been 200 applicants for this one position, and you are one of 20 people who are being interviewed. It’s easy to confuse the details provided by all the candidates.
  2. Being too subdued can appear to be a mismatch with your CV, especially if you have some powerful accomplishments on it. They may wonder if you have really done all the things you wrote about on your CV.
  3. If you don’t seem very sure about the great things you’ve done in the past, it can cast doubt on your ability to do great things in the future.

Let’s take a look at the definitions of confidence and arrogance to shed some light on the differences:

con·fi·dence: full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing

ar·ro·gance: offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride


Having confidence in oneself means that you believe in yourself, your abilities, and your dependability. These are all good things that will actually allow you to perform even better in your position and add value to your company. When being considered for an employment opportunity, you want the interviewer to have that same confidence in you; this means that you will need to talk in the interview about your knowledge and experiences in a way that gives you the appropriate credit for a job well done.

Being confident is a far cry from being arrogant in an interview. Folks who are perceived as arrogant tend to be seen as “having a chip on their shoulder.” As well, they oftentimes inflate the importance of their accomplishments (e.g. saying “My work significantly impacted the success of the projects” when the truth is that his/her efforts were no more important than anyone else’s on the team) and have a difficult time recognizing the contributions of others. Really, who would want to work with someone who has an attitude, tends to make themselves out to be more than they really are, and belittles the importance of others on the team?

Now think about how you usually present yourself. Does the above description of the arrogant jerk sound like you? If so, you’ve got some serious thinking to do about what you want to do in your career and how your attitude may be limiting you.

If not, then you should not be minimizing your accomplishments in interviews. Instead, let your confidence in your talents and achievements shine through so that prospective employer can get a clear picture of the value you can add to their team.

Author bio:

Melissa Cooley is a career consultant with a passion for helping people develop strategies to reach their goals and maximize their potential. As founder of The Job Quest, she assists individuals who are seeking employment or facing the confusion of navigating a career path. Melissa also provides a fresh perspective and other resources on Twitter and Facebook. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn.

Many thanks to Melissa Cooley for writing us this excellent guest post. It’s not just us Brits who have a hard job ‘selling’ ourselves and the difference between arrogance and confidence is definitely worth remembering. A visit to The Job Quest is also well worth your time as her posts are always insightful.

- Sarah Cooper

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