Job interviewing is all about persuading the company that you’re the absolute perfect person for the job.
Yet at the same time, it’s important not to seem overconfident or delusional as to your own abilities.
That’s according to Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Robb said the one trait that won’t get someone hired is “a lack of humility and an over sense of self-promotion.”
Whole Foods isn’t the only company that’s wary of arrogance. As Thomas L. Friedman writes in The New York Times, Google places a similar value on humility. According to Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of People Operations, Google looks for people who are able to accept when someone else has a better idea.
Bock told Friedman that the most successful Googlers are “zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they will go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’ You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.”
So how exactly do you strike that balance between confidence and humility during a job interview?
Writing in The Harvard Business Review, John Baldoni says it’s important to talk about coworkers’ contributions to solving problems, instead of just your own.
And over at Forbes, Margie Warrell suggests that instead of promoting yourself, you promote your value, meaning that you show how you can contribute to the success of others and the organisation overall.
Of course, there are some execs who actively look for confidence and self-promotion. Oracle cofounder and former CEO Larry Ellison, for example, used to train recruiters to ask candidates if they were the smartest person they knew. If they said yes, they were hired.
Ultimately, success in a job interview may come down to knowing your audience. Chances are good that the company is looking for some degree of humility, but they may also want to hear you toot your own horn when it comes to certain desirable traits and skills.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.