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When Is Confidence Presumptuous?

In a business communications class last night, we discussed a closing sentence in a cover letter–that is, a letter of application for a job. Here is the sentence:

I look forward to being interviewed for the position.

We argued about whether that sentence is positive and confident or pushy and presumptuous.

What do you think? If you read that sentence at the end of a letter of application from someone who appeared to have all the qualifications you seek, how would you react? Would you be impressed by the applicant's confidence or turned off by the applicant's presumptuousness?

Please share your view. Granted, you have not read the rest of the letter. But how does that sentence feel to you?

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

13 comments on “When Is Confidence Presumptuous?”

  • Confidence should come in bucket loads at the moment. Anyone hoping to increase business or sell themselves needs to set themselves aside from the competition. Most people react well to confidence.

  • Presumptuous. It would show confidence to say that you meet/exceed the qualifications for the posted position, but it’s a bit pushy to assume that you’ll be selected for an interview.

  • Confidence. Why apply for a position if you think you are not suited? Expect to be interviewed at least. If you are not confident in yourself how will your prospective employer be confident in your abilities before they even meet you.

  • I like it. The sentence shows optimism and enthusiasm, although somewhat passive. Overall, I agree with Vicky’s comment.

  • Confidence.

    However, since the possibility of a “presumptuous” reading exists, I wouldn’t take chances on the frame of mind of the person who might be reading it.

    I would probably soften it by removing the word “interview” and saying something like, “I look forward to discussing my qualifications with you soon.”

  • Thanks for your opinions, everyone. It looks as though “Confidence” just barely wins, but RJ makes an excellent point: If some people will take the statement as presumptuous, a softer version is a better bet. I like RJ’s revision.

    Interestingly, when a potential client asks me for a proposal, I always include a sentence like this in my response: “I look forward to working with you.” Well, I do look forward!


  • It depends on what job the applicant is applying for. If the job is in sales or marketing, that confident tone might be seen as a sign of strength and aggressiveness that those types of jobs require. If the job is for, say, a lending position in a traditionally more conservative business, a less presumptuous tone might behoove the applicant.

  • I actually end most letters with an “I look forward to [insert the next step/action of letter]” statement. You can fill-in whatever the intended outcome of the communication is: talking with you about our product, meeting your sales rep on Tuesday, or your feedback. I think it’s a great way to end on a positive note and reaffirm the intended outcome of the letter.

  • I would suggest that, at first glance, it would suggest confidence. However a more appropriate form might be “I look forward to the opportunity of an interview…”; a good mix of politeness and confidence.

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