How to be assertive in interviews
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Assertiveness is the ability to communicate with others in a clear and direct manner. It has been described as "The Art of telling people what you would like them to do, in a way that they don't feel threatened or put down". It differs from being aggressive, where you may get what you want, but may upset people and hinder your progress in the long run.
Some people confuse assertiveness with getting your own way all the time, but there may be occasions when you take the decision to back down on an issue, because you realise that the other person has rights too. It also differs from being passive, where you let others get their own way in most situations and don't stand up for your rights.
Assertive behaviour helps you to:
Being assertive helps you to exercise more control over your life and relationships, and thus may help to increase your self-confidence. It helps you to reduce the stress in your life as you are less bothered about the opinions of others. Non-assertive behaviour can lead to loss of respect from others and loss of self-respect in the long term.
Some people confuse
It can be used in many situations, but can be an important factor in performing well at interviews. In interviews assertive behaviour will help you to come across as a confident candidate who is likely to be able to get things done. It is characterised by:
- a firm clear voice,
- eye contact with the interviewer,
- being relaxed rather than nervous,
- an open body posture (e.g. don't have your arms and legs folded tightly)
- saying what you want to say using simple, clear language
- a direct open manner.
- See our non-verbal communication test for more information on these
There follows a set of 12 questions relating to your behaviour at interview. Try to answer each question according to how you think you would react in the situation described. The answers to these questions and the analysis of the answers are for your eyes only, so answer as honestly as you can. Try to imagine yourself faced with these situations in a job interview however unlikely they may seem, and then choose from the suggested responses the one closest to what you could imagine yourself saying or doing.