I know this may seem stupid, but I just clam up every time, it seems!
What can I do to exuberate more confidence during my interviews without feeling stupid?
First, your predicament does not seem stupid. Most of our parents taught us to be humble, and never brag about our achievements.
That’s how decent people behave in most situations.
However, answering interview questions is the rare case where it is not only okay to talk about yourself (and what you bring to the table), but it's actually the right thing to do. (It’s also necessary if you want to ace your interview.)
Because the interviewer needs to know about your achievements to understand why you’re the best candidate.
Interviewers are already interested in you before you walk in the door. They’ve seen your resume, they’ve read your cover letter, and they want to hear more about what you bring to the table.
So – if you never talk about your achievements, then you reduce your chances of being hired. Later, when they’re reviewing applicants’ replies in their head, they’ll remember highlights from stories. Without a good story, they’ll have no highlights to remember.
However, there’s definitely a distinction between bragging and telling your story. Bragging is unqualified self-praise. But sharing your story means recounting what happened and the role you played – while acknowledging other forces (besides just your contribution) that led to the positive outcome.
It comes down to this:
Self-praise is generally unattractive to everyone. But telling your story (in a compelling way) is like a breath of fresh air – it captivates listeners and helps them remember you.