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Job Interviewing is Like American Idol: Confidence Is Key

by Marc Luber

Developing confidence and portraying an image of confidence prove to be key factors to success.

America is a week away from crowning the next American Idol, but as of right now the wind is at the back of Chicagoan Lee DeWyze. Why? Because aside from the fact that he’s a talented singer and appears to be a humble, down-to-earth guy, he has listened to feedback from the judges and quickly adjusted his game. Early on in the process, Lee lacked any trace of confidence. He seemed like the high school dropout who had always been told he wasn’t smart enough or good enough. Watching him gain his footing and come back each week with an increasing level of developing confidence has been fun. This week, it seemed as if he had cleared his head of any voice that had ever said “you’re not good enough” as he wowed the crowd with two impressive, confident performances. Everyone loves an underdog…and those who have watched this season of American Idol have seen Lee’s confidence blossom and his performances follow. This is why I predict that Lee DeWyze will be the next American Idol. [Continues below video]

The fun thing about managing bands as well as being a recruiter at a search firm is that you get to be like Simon Cowell on a daily basis: give brutally honest feedback to help people be the very best they can be. After all, those turning to you for your services often need all kinds of advice about their performance. As a band manager, that might mean coaching the singer on how to loosen up, develop confidence and interact more with the audience…just like what you see on Idol. As a recruiter, it often means coaching the candidate on how to ace a job interview. When I wrote about job interviews in a post called 15 Career Development Topics That Will Follow You Through Life, I said when interviewing you should be prepared, be yourself and be the best you that you can be. Whether on stage or in an office setting, to be the best you that you can be, you must portray an image of confidence. That’s clearly what Lee DeWyze did this week in what was essentially his televised interview to be hired as the next American Idol.

Job Interviewing

As a recruiter, I regularly met with my attorney candidates before sending them to interview for career opportunities at my clients (law firms and corporations). I would get a good feel for their personality and see how they present themselves in the setting of a professional meeting. Very often, these attorneys, who graduated near the top of their classes at the best law schools in the country, had no idea how to present themselves in a meeting. Not a trace of confidence! When this happened, I would get them talking about their passions and remind them that we’re all human. Everyone wants to hire someone they want to have around. If you bury your personality, don’t explain how you fit the needs of the hiring party and don’t act like you believe you’re the right person for the opportunity, do you really think your beautifully typed resume is going to overcome all that? It’s not! I don’t care if your resume is on magic paper that’s going to cook and clean for the hiring manager. Magic paper and a Harvard degree will only get you so far. It really comes down to personal branding, which is a topic for another day(s) but also fully tied in with portraying confidence, being the best you that you can be and bringing out whatever it is about your personality and skills that make you the right fit for an opportunity. I would remind candidates that the hiring side has choices – just because you’re interviewing doesn’t mean they’re hiring you (amazing how often that’s not clear to some really smart people). You must rise to the occasion when interviewing – and that requires portraying an image of confidence. My rap was no different than that of the judges who have been telling Lee “we know you can do it – you just have to find your confidence”.

I was always psyched when my candidates, who were rejected by law firms due to weak interviews, sat with me for additional coaching sessions, listened to what I said, found their confidence and hit a home run at their next interview opportunity. As a Chicago native whose father’s business is just down the block from the paint store where Lee DeWyze was working just months ago, I’m particularly psyched to see that Lee has listened to the judges and found his confidence. I hope he hits a home run next week and aces his final interview.

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