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Location: Newcastle
Date: August 3, 2022

How to overcome impostor syndrome when going for an interview.

By Sam Hook. Volunteer Coach at Smart Works Newcastle


As a volunteer coach at Smart Works Newcastle, my job is to help our clients to feel fully prepared and confident for their interviews.

I’ve noticed that many clients seem to lack self-confidence and feel that they are somehow inadequate for the job even though they have the required skills and qualifications.

One of the reasons for this might be down to a psychological phenomenon known as Imposter Syndrome which affects around 70% of women at some point in their career, especially when they are going for an interview or promotion.

Impostor Syndrome is a feeling of being a ‘fraud’ at work and can hinder all kinds of ambitions from applying for a job, contributing to meetings, giving a presentation, taking on a new job or asking for help in the fear that they will be ‘found out’ as a fake, even if they’re qualified and have the right experience.  They may also have difficulty accepting their own accomplishments, believing them to be down to luck or circumstance.

A well-known study indicated that men will apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them as they are worried about being exposed as a fake or failure, another symptom of the syndrome.


If you suspect you are experiencing ‘impostorism’ when applying for a job, here are my top 10 tips to overcome it:


  1. Write down all your achievements and successes you’ve received in both your personal and business life as well as any positive feedback you’ve heard. What do people compliment you on?  What do people come to you for help with? Keep this list close to hand like on the notes app on your phone or note book so that you can refer to it whenever you feel self-doubt kicking in.


  1. When you have thoughts of self-doubt, write them down and challenge them to help you to put them into perspective. Are they 100% true? Self-doubt comes from the primitive part of your brain that is simply there to protect you and keep you safe. These thoughts in your head are often untrue so over-ride them by reading your strengths in point 1.


  1. Remember you were asked to an interview because the interviewer saw something in you – your abilities, qualifications and experience, so wants to find out a little more about you as a person and why you want to work for the organization.


  1. Lower your standards – your interview doesn’t have to be 100% perfect – just going and trying your best is better than not applying. Just be as prepared as you possibly can and do your best.


  1. Avoid comparing and despairing. There will always be someone more or less capable than you when applying for the job. Focus on what you can do well, on your strengths and what you can offer to their company.


  1. Learn to validate yourself, don’t wait for others to compliment you, write down 3 things you are proud of doing every night when you go to bed. Just small things like helping a friend out.


  1. Try not to worry about what people are thinking of you – chances are the interviewer is with his or her own Impostor Syndrome so be careful not to mind read.


  1. Talk through your feelings with a coach at Smart Works Newcastle or someone you trust.


  1. Learn to accept a compliment, success or achievement – your success is not down to luck or anything else, it’s down to YOU.


  1. Ultimately, the best way to reduce self-doubt and insecurity during the interview process is to understand the needs of the organisation by putting yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. By communicating the organisations’ needs in your own words and how you can help them, you’ll build your confidence and place yourself head-and-shoulders above the competition.


Sam is a Life Coach at Uniquethinking in Newcastle.