Overcoming Imposter Syndrome & Nailing the Interview

Imposter Syndrome is a very real challenge to many, especially in situations like interviews. Overcoming Imposter Syndrome is about positioning yourself to be able to do your best, not allowing triggers to diminish your chances of success. Learn what Imposter Syndrome is here, and be able to recognize if this sneaky issue is affecting your chances of success in interviews.

Overcoming imposter Syndrome


Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: YouTube Transcription:

Overcoming imposter syndrome. It’s one of the key issues that I faced when I was 24 years old at Bain & Company, sitting with CEOs that had better pedigrees, far more experience, and were asking really hard questions. Imposters are generally people who feel out of place in an organization, and it’s really easy when you don’t have the skills and you don’t have the confidence to feel that. No time is that more important and also more activated than in an interview when your entire future, your career, your aspirations and your qualifications are tested and on the line. I’m here today to talk about how you can overcome imposter syndrome when you’re preparing for an interview, and to give you some very specific practice tips so that you can get ready for the next interview and conquer imposter syndrome. Thanks again for joining us.

Imposter Syndrome Definition

I’ll get started by just giving a little bit of an insight into what imposter syndrome is. Imposter syndrome is the situation where you feel unqualified, where you doubt your accomplishments, and where you feel out of place in an environment. Imposter syndrome is absolutely anchored in reality. It’s anchored in reality because in many situations you are not qualified. You are not capable, and you are not ready for the options and the responsibilities that are in front of you. However, those that most successfully overcome imposter syndrome have a practice program, and a training process that they use to build confidence in areas that they can control, and to remind themselves of the things that they do bring to the table so that they can highlight those inside an interview and in stressful job situations.

Effects of Imposter Syndrome

When you’re overcome with imposter syndrome inside an interview, it kills your confidence. It makes you focus more on what somebody is thinking about you rather than how you are explaining what you are doing. It takes the focus away from what you can control and puts it on the things that you can’t. And the end result is that you feel helpless and unaware. So we have 10 things that you can do when you are preparing for an interview to help you be ready to conquer imposter syndrome when it knocks on the door in a stressful situation. Number one. You need to know mentally and your mindset and your mind framework that imposter syndrome even very important, very successful people. There are very few people in the world that feel like They’re at the top of their game. Even a good investor could be great. Even a manager for a consultant who’s done it for 5 to 8 years has not seen the battles that a partner has. Even someone who’s in the military who’s been in the military for 10 years hasn’t seen it as long as someone for 20 years.

10 Steps On How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

And so there’s a sense that age and experience is the all important factor, and it can hit anyone at any time. Here are the most important thing to understand.

  1. It Can Effect Anyone- Even The Qualified

First is to recognize that it hits qualified people and therefore you as a very qualified person are in the pool of people that this can come knocking at the door for.

  1. Connect

It’s important when you’re preparing for your interview to connect with two kinds of people. You don’t want to singly have a coach who is amazing at building you up. That can actually fuel imposter syndrome. So if you are training for an interview and you’re working only with people who know you and spend a lot of time with you, and their primary job is to tell you how amazing you are, it actually reinforces the fact that you may be “impostering” inside the situation. However, if you’re on the other side of the table and you only have people who tell you that your terrible inside the interview, you might become too self-aware of your faults and deficiencies when you’re trying to interview.

So instead of focusing on the very real connection that you can make with somebody even in a virtual environment, or on the opportunity that you have it’s really a privilege to share your work and experience and the possibilities of what the future might hold. Instead, you are faced with one or other of those voices. Somebody who has either totally built you up or somebody who has totally torn you down. We recommend that you either find a single coach who can do both well for you, who can tell you where you are succeeding and then give you an adequate sense of where your growth areas are, or that you work with two kinds of people. The kind that really fully and thoroughly build you up, and those who very constructively push you to the next level.

  1. Find a Mentor

It’s essential when you’re planning to overcome imposter syndrome for an interview that you have a mentor. Having a mentor for the imposter syndrome gives that sense of balance. Somebody who can tell you this is super amazing about you and you should highlight it, and you should talk about it. They can give you permission to explain things in a way that might feel overconfident or arrogant but are actually just appropriate for the context. And they can also bring you down a notch to a place where you’re just in a healthy spot to be able in an interview to give the balance to your interviewers. Where you say I’m great at this when they ask you about things that you’ve done well, and when they ask you about your weaknesses or your failures, you’re also able to with balance explain that. So having a mentor or an interview coach can really help address the situations of imposter syndrome, but you have a plan of attack for how to follow them.

If you don’t have a mentor, check out our article on how to find a mentor.

  1. Understand Your Talents

This one in particular is incredibly essential. As someone is beginning their interview preparation process with our company, Management Consulted, we have them walk through a list of their strengths and we asked them to write down three. Then we asked them to write down seven, and we asked them to write down 10. And after they go over two, they often have trouble. But we really push them to write down a large list of strengths. Then those strengths become the backbone of their interview stories, and they are then able to build great examples of the strengths so that they are authentic and not posturing. One of the major issues that happens with imposter syndrome is that you feel like you’re faking it. And so building authentic stories off of real strengths can be incredibly empowering when you’re preparing for an interview and we want to combat the imposter syndrome.

  1. What’s Your Core Truth?

Hold onto one core truth about yourself. Make it a mantra and make sure that you repeat it before the interviews. Very general ones can often be the most effective here. Something like I add value to every organization I’m a part of. Or I love the work that I do. Or I’m really talented at solving problems for businesses. One core value statement about you that begins with I and ends with how you do something or what you do and have done effectively can be a truth anchor for you as you go into the interviews. And we recommend in your pre-interview warm-up that you use that to remind yourself of who you are, what you bring to the table, and what you’re capable of.

  1. Demonstrate Collaboration

It’s really important that you understand that the goal is not to demonstrate that you’re perfect in a bubble. The goal is demonstrating that you are effective at working independently and in teams. In every work environment, organizations are interested in both your ability to collaborate with other people and your ability to put your head down and get some work done on your own. And when you understand that they are looking for that duality of roles, it can make you feel less like an imposter when you can draw on experiences when you’ve done both successfully. This comes down to the preparing of the stories and the questions that you’re going to be answering inside the interview. You have to understand those two roles and how you can explain them adequately.

  1. Prep, Prep, Prep

Once you’ve built up the mantra, the list of your strengths and a duality of roles so that you have an understanding of what the interviewer is looking for, now it’s time to begin to prep.

First of all, right out 15 stories about something you’ve done well in your past. Then make sure you balance it with five total stories about failures and weaknesses, 20 stories in total. If you have all of those stories built together, you will feel adequately prepared to answer the when did you do these great questions, and the when could you have done better questions. And both of them will be super effective. In addition, we recommend practicing out loud for a minimum of two hours before every interview that you go to. If you are doing multiple interviews in sequence, you can use the same practice to prepare for multiple interviews.

  1. What Calms You?

Find something that calms your nerves before the interview. If you can feel totally in your own skin, proud of who you are, and excited for the interview without feeling anxious, that can be really helpful. We’ll often recommend to our clients that they should go through their normal morning routine before the interview and not try to add some additional prep in.

We recommend that the night before they go to bed an hour earlier than they usually do, or recommend going for a run or drinking a cup of coffee, or having an adult beverage the night before your meal so that you can feel relaxed, ready and prepared.

  1. In The Moment

This happens when you’re on the spot in the interview, and this is where the defense of I prepared for this comes in really handy. When the imposter syndrome comes knocking, the doubts and the fears that begin to speak to you in your internal psyche as you’re walking through the interview, when they say you’re not capable, you’re not ready for this, this is too hard for you. They’re interviewing other more qualified candidates. All of those messages of self-doubt that come and bombard you in the interview, you have one single response to them. I prepared for this. So as long as you’ve walked through all of the processes up to now, you can combat those fears, those sense of insecurities and the issues that you face in the interview, you can combat that with I prepared for this.

You have the practice to rely on, you have confidence and a cool nature that you’ve prepared for, and you could just respond to every single one of them, I’ve prepared for this.

  1. Become An Expert At Learning

It’s really effective to become an expert at learning. You can never truly become an expert in any job or industry in a sustainable way. Expertise is fleeting like the wind. The person who’s an expert today becomes an old fart tomorrow. And so when people pursue expertise, it actually anchors in you a threat of the imposter syndrome coming into you. If you pursue expertise, not in a subject matter or an industry, but in learning, you can maintain a sense of an attitude of a student throughout your whole life. You can bring that to every environment that you’re in. You can message that for every new role that one of the things that you’re best at is learning how to do things their way, how to do things effectively, and assimilating information from your past.


So in summary, we’ve talked a little bit about what imposter syndrome is. When people are asking what is imposter syndrome, it’s important to know what you will be dealing with before you dive into how to solve it. And then we talked about how to overcome imposter syndrome in 10 simple steps. It can attack anyone at merely any time. And if you are ready to defend it, it will make you an effective warrior for positive change inside the organizations that you do join. If you want to know a little bit of bit about how I came acquainted with imposter syndrome, imposter syndrome is something that I have trained over 2000 people out of in my work at Management Consulted. At Management Consulted, I am the leader of a dynamic team of ex-consultants that worked at McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, and collectively we’ve coached about 20,000 people.

My personal coaching experience of around 2000 people has dealt with situations for interviews, and also in corporate consulting situations where people wonder if the information that I have is appropriate. Will somebody see through this? Won’t they think that someone else is a more qualified candidate. And we’ve walked them through these 10 steps to go through the process of adequately preparing, becoming aware of, and combating the imposter syndrome in interviews and on-the-job settings. If you’d like to work with us to overcome the imposter syndrome in the work that you do, we would love it. Please click the link to get started. Thanks for joining.

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