While recently hosting a job search discussion, the topic turned to interviews. Mainly, why it's common these days when someone starts a job search to get a few interviews, only to have the pipeline dry up. Sound famiiar? You post your resume and get some intial inquiries and a few phone screens. You might even go on a couple of in-person interviews. You're feeling really good about your chances. But, all of a sudden, the rejections start coming in. Even for the ones you thought you nailed. Next thing you know, your email and phone go silent. You crank up the activity. You start applying to more jobs online. But, you hear nothing. Silence. Your confidence sinks. After that, every interview you get stirs up a little panic. You don't want to sound desperate or weak, but you're worried you came across too cocky in your previous interviews. You feel confused. You think to yourself, "How do I sound confident and humble at the same time?" Don't worry. This crisis of confidence has afflicted many a job seeker. The solution is to do some interview prep designed to help you deliver the right mix of confidence and humility. And, it starts with...

Letting The Facts Do The Talking

One of the most common mistakes job seekers make in interviews is being too subjective and vague when answering interview questions. Especially, open-ended behavioral questions, which can be extremely tricky to respond to correctly. The solution is to spend time prepping your answers. When you think about accomplishments, map out how you achieved the success and what you measured to prove it was a "win." At Work It Daily, we call this the Experience + Learn = Grow Model for answering interview questions. It's the ideal framework for making a good impression without sounding overconfident. For example, read the following two responses and choose which one sounds better:

Question: What do you think makes you a successful project manager?

Response #1: I always pay attention to the details. My boss says I'm amazing at making sure nothing slips through the cracks. It's all in the details!

Response #2: Great question. I actually analyzed my last three projects and noticed creating timelines with milestones helped me make sure nothing fell through the cracks. As a result, we were able to complete the projects on time and under budget. I'm most proud of our recent project where we finished a week ahead of schedule and 12 percent under budget. I really feel the timeline and milestones played a big part in our team's success. I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to work on that project as it taught me a lot!

See the difference? Great! Now, let's build on that...

There's No "I" in Team

Besides following the equation when responding to interview questions, it's also important to share credit. Notice how the second response above (a/k/a the right response!), mentions it was a team success. While you may have been the one to implement an effective tactic, always stress it was a team effort to avoid sounding narcissistic. Which leads to one more tip...

P.S. - Don't Forget, "Gratitude Reveals Attitude"

In addition to keeping your answers objective and giving the team credit, don't forget to show appreciation as well. Notice in the second response it ends with gratitude for the opportunity to Experience + Learn = Grow on the assignment. When employers hear your gratitude, it says a lot about the kind of person you''d be to work with. Personality matters. Employers believe appreciative people tend to be more pleasant to collaborate with. Sending this message will help them see you as someone who would integrate into the team more easily. Getting you one step closer to landing the job!

Published on: May 29, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.