Coming across as overconfident in an interview

Coming across as overconfident in an interview

You may, like most people who are eager to make a good impression at an interview, do your best to keep your nerves under control. You want to appear confident and give the very best impression of yourself. Believe it or not, I sometimes hear from interviewers that they did not choose a certain candidate as they came across as over-confident. You may think that this is hard to believe as an interview can be a daunting prospect, but there are cases where an interviewee comes across as a bit too sure of themselves.

What this overconfidence says about the candidate

Sometimes interviewers are faced with an extremely enthusiastic character who really does believe that they know what needs to be done, and they are the very person to do it! We have all met overconfident people and they can be a bit much if you have to be around them for a full working day. Imagine being a school leader who is faced with this overconfident character. Are they going to be willing to take instruction and fall in with the culture of the school and staff, or are they likely to cause problems? A character who is quietly confident but knowledgeable, will always make a better impression.

Interview overconfidence or fear?

An interview can trigger a fight-or-flight response in a candidate. You are being asked to defend your career, experience and achievements to date as a teaching professional. Sometimes candidates go too far in their effort to calm the nerves and come across as being overconfident or cocky. This may not be what the interviewee perceives but the first impression of the candidate on the interviewers will have been made, and it cannot be taken back.

You don’t join the sergeants

You might think that the expression above is really strange, or you may already know it. You don’t join the sergeants, means that you don’t start off in any career by going right to the top. You start as an NQT and you work your way to being an experienced teacher and perhaps a leader eventually. You may have ideas on how the school can improve, but you need to outline what you have to offer and also, how you are going to fit in at your new school. A candidate who tells an interview panel where they are going wrong, who points out faults in a critical fashion and comes across as a bit of a know-it-all, will leave a lasting impression; just not a good one.

If you are wondering how you come across at interview, try practicing your interview techniques and responses with a trained professional coach like me, or practice with a friend to see what kind of feedback you get. It is well worth asking for feedback after an interview too if you do not get the job. It might not be what you want to hear but it will serve you well when it comes to your own self-awareness and also with future interviews.


If you need help with interview preparation my new Guide for teaching interviews is just what you need. Read how it can help you here.



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