Striking the Balance between Confidence and Arrogance when Job Hunting
Everyone speaks of confidence as a particularly important character trait, not only when looking for a job, but also when dating, directing others in tasks, and so forth. We can all admit that it is a very attractive quality as well -- confidence inspires us to feel safe, sure, interested in what the confident person is telling us, and willing to follow that person. However, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance; we all know it when we see it, and there are very few of us who would agree that arrogant behavior is anything other than offensive, annoying, and off-putting. Knowing where this fine line exists in ourselves is critical when we are seeking work.
To strike the right balance in yourself, one of the first things you need to do is think about your personality. Are you a very talkative person, or one who listens more than she speaks? Is your energy particularly calming, soothing, and quiet, or are you someone who is able to rouse the people around you into action? Confidence looks quite different in these different personalities. The extraverted, talkative person shows confidence by being firm, direct, and clear in her language; she refrains from talking herself up, so to speak, but she also doesn't mince words to explain how qualified she is for a particular position. It is important for this kind of person to be aware of how her words can carry her away, and to refrain from the kinds of conversational tangents that can lead into troubled waters -- that is, she needs to be careful not to put others down in an effort to make herself seem better, not use grandiose language to exaggerate her own experience, knowledge, and abilities, and not overpower the interviewer with the sheer weight of words.
The quieter person, on the other hand, needs to practice exuding confidence in not only her energy, but in carefully chosen words. She will need to prod herself internally to say things she instinctively shies away from saying, such as the reasons why she would make an excellent candidate for a particular position. She will also need to watch her body language, to sit up straight, keep from fidgeting, and just generally imagine strength and confidence emanating from her body. This might sound silly, but believe me, it's effective. Finally, she might wish to express confidence by asking questions of the interviewer and listening carefully to the answers, so as to indicate that she is not afraid to engage in a give-and-take with the potential employer as opposed to simply being willing to take any sort of job at all.
It is good advice for anyone who isn't generally confident -- or who tends toward arrogance -- to find a friend or spouse and practice acting in a fashion that shows confidence. Do mock interviews, have a role play in which you pretend you are walking through the facility talking with your potential boss, or even set up scenes that have nothing to do with the work world per se, but instead are situations in which confidence is definitely called for (such as returning food in a restaurant that was not what one ordered). Such practice sessions help instill confidence across the board because they give a feel for that particular emotional state -- and they will surely improve your performance in your job hunt.