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December 18, 2023 - 6 minutes

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome in Tech Interviews: Boosting Confidence

Imposter syndrome might rear its ugly head during interviews, but you are more than capable. 

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Bootcamp graduates are in an interesting spot: they’ve learned the skills they need to know to reach success in the workplace but because it’s happened in such a short period of time, it seems almost too good to be true. How can you compete with university graduates? Or candidates with more experience? Do you even belong here?! 

While these feelings may feel unique to just you, we have a spoiler: they’re not! And in fact, there’s a name to describe your experiences: imposter syndrome. Your feelings of not belonging might be heightened by your unique way of arriving in the tech sector through a bootcamp but this is something that many, if not all, professionals go through at some point in their career. 

Since we know that this can be a tough feeling to overcome and, more importantly, something that can spike during the interview process and impede your ability to perform well, we’ve created this guide. But before we give you tips to overcoming imposter syndrome in the tech field, and specifically during your interviews, let’s review what exactly imposter syndrome is and where it comes from.

What is Imposter Syndrome?  

You’ve almost certainly heard someone talk about imposter syndrome, but it’s not always crystal clear what they mean–is it something that’s diagnosed at the doctor? Is there a cure? Not quite: imposter syndrome is when someone feels like their background or experience isn’t enough to help them reach success; this anxiety leads people to doubt themselves and their capabilities, even if they’re more than qualified. 

We’re specifically talking about imposter syndrome in the tech workplace, but it’s also prevalent in university environments where many high achievers from different backgrounds are put together. To better understand where this feeling stems from, let’s dive into some of the origins of imposter syndrome: 

  • A person’s upbringing: everyone is a product of how they were raised and while some parents choose to celebrate any sort of achievement, others are tougher on their children and demand only stellar results. And if even a child did perform well, they might be questioned on why they didn’t do better, leaving the child with a feeling of never being able to be enough. 

  • A person’s personality: just like with pretty much everything, some people are more predisposed to imposter syndrome due to their personality; people who are less outgoing and more prone to stress may feel that imposter syndrome symptoms are stronger. 

  • A person’s surroundings: imagine surrounding yourself with a group of people who never seem to fail–from promotions to landing the role they want, it seems that they only find success. Your social circles can also lead to a sense of imposter syndrome if you feel out of place among people who seem to be doing so well. 

  • A person’s anxieties: as humans, we want to be part of a group and feel like we belong; your own anxieties and doubts can lead to further feelings of not belonging and being out of place, which will heighten the anxiety you already have. 

The dangers of imposter syndrome 

Imposter syndrome is just something you feel inside, right? So even if you think you align with some of what we’ve just listed, there’s nothing to worry about–not so fast. Although it may seem like something that doesn’t have an actual effect on your life, left unchecked, it can impact your day-to-day life, performance at work, and personal relationships. 

Don’t believe us? Imposter syndrome can:

  • Heighten feelings of social anxiety: feeling like we belong and feeling comfortable among peers is one of the most crucial parts of being human. And if you let your feelings of being less infiltrate your personal relationships, you’ll find yourself drawing away from others.

  • Impede your professional growth: part of the professional journey is taking chances and putting yourself out there, making connections and seeing the path your career will take. And while those who do suffer from imposter syndrome can definitely still reach success, the effects of imposter syndrome could mean you don’t reach your full potential. 

  • Contribute to burnout: if you constantly think you’re underachieving or don’t belong, you’ll feel like you need to do more and work harder; this can quickly lead to burnout and stress, which isn’t good for your overall well being. 

If any of this sounds familiar, you may be wondering if you’re suffering from imposter syndrome. And while we can’t give you a definitive diagnosis right here, here are some of the most common symptoms of imposter syndrome: 

  • Doubting yourself: do you ever think ‘how did I actually get here?’ Or do you feel like the work you produce isn’t good enough? These feelings of self-doubt, while common in low doses, shouldn’t be the overpowering feeling when you’re at work. 

  • Attributing success to outside factors: if you’re quick to attribute your success to things separate from you, such as your teammates or luck, you could be suffering from imposter syndrome as you’re not able to see why you deserve to be achieving all that you are. 

  • Constantly fearing failure: having a small aversion to failure is healthy, but not if it overcomes all that you do and consumes your day-to-day with intrusive thoughts. 

Beating Imposter Syndrome in Interviews 

One of the most common places for imposter syndrome to spike is during the interview stage–and this is completely logical. You’re basically asked to prove your worth to a company and explain how you, above all other candidates, are best suited for the role. And while nerves during interviews are normal and to be expected, imposter syndrome can rear its ugly head, especially if you’re predisposed to doubting yourself and your abilities. 

Anxieties are heightened leading up to interviews because: 

  • You may feel that you’re about to be outed as a fraud: sure, the company has read your application and CV and are interested, but what if they completely misunderstood what you offer? Or require a skill that you simply don’t possess? Or even worse–they did think you could be a good fit but realize that you aren’t during the interview. 

  • You may feel that you don’t actually have the skills that the company is looking for: many job descriptions offer a broad overview of the required competencies, leaving a lot to be clarified later on. And your fear is that the company will realize that you aren’t skilled enough for them, removing you from the interview process. 

These are common thoughts heading into an interview, especially if you suffer from imposter syndrome; we could go on and on because interviews can be stressful. But before you run away from the chance to interview, take a look at our tips and tricks to help you reach job interview success–despite having imposter syndrome. 

Remember it’s ultimately not up to you 

This sounds counterintuitive, we know. But it’s true: the final decision that a company will ultimately make depends on so many factors and probably won’t be an indicator of you as an individual; HR will look at experience, education, skills, salary requirements, location, personality, the specific needs of the team, and much more–it’s not just about one thing and you shouldn’t let a rejection define your self-worth. 

Take every interview as a learning opportunity 

You’re not going to get every job you interview for, no matter how qualified you are. And while that may be hard to accept, especially at the beginning of your career, it’s a necessary shift to make the interview a positive experience for you. Leave each interview not focusing on if you performed well, but looking for room for improvement and learning something new

A rejection doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a job or aren’t good enough, but each interview can serve as a rehearsal for your next one. 

Show off your skills 

One of the biggest symptoms of imposter syndrome is feeling like what you offer just isn’t enough or that there’s someone out there who is better suited. And guess what? There might be, but that’s completely out of your control. During interviews, stick to what you do know and are in control of–your own skills. Don’t be afraid to show your confidence and capabilities, making it clear to the interviewer (and yourself!) that you’re up for the challenge. 

Find out what helps you calm down 

Anxiety manifests in very different ways for different people; some people may be unable to speak and others may ramble on. Similarly, the best way to handle anxiety depends on you and your specific situation. Try different methods, such as talking to a loved one, meditating, exercising, or taking a walk, to find out what works for you and make sure you include that before your next interview.

Tech interviews don’t have to be scary and intimidating experiences, but we fully understand that imposter syndrome is a hard thing to overcome. And especially as a bootcamp graduate, you may have trouble feeling that you truly belong when you first enter the field. 

As an Ironhack graduate, however, you’ll be among some of the best new voices in tech, ready to absolutely master any challenge thrown your way–with the confidence of someone who truly belongs in tech. 

Tech is for everyone and we’re working every day to make it more accessible and welcoming–are you ready to join us? 

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