Imposter Syndrome - take the test!

Imposter Syndrome - take the test!

I was chatting to a friend recently, who in reaction to a flippant and derogatory comment I made about myself, got us onto talking about Imposter Syndrome. 

As something I haven’t pondered on for a while and at a time of year prime for developing self-awareness and seeking personal improvements/development, I thought it worth sharing, exploring and seeking the experiences of others.

So, what is Imposter Syndrome (IP)?

Perhaps these two examples will go some way to explain:

Actress Kate Winslet said; "[I would] wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud.”

And writer John Steinbeck wrote way back in 1938, “I am not a writer, I’ve been fooling myself and other people.”

The term IP itself was coined by two psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes and came about from Clance’s personal experiences of feeling a professional fraud (when not one), and through her work with numerous students who were achieving great grades and successes but still struggling with similar feelings of inadequacy and fakery. 

So, in short IP is feeling like a fraud or a fake when actually the opposite is true. This can emerge in a whole host of different types of people from those in the performing arts to students and all types of professionals.

Clance went onto develop the Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) – which via a questionnaire based test you can determine where you sit.

Why not click here to take the test!

I found a great article in The Guardian by Fiona Buckland called 'Feeling like an imposter?  You can escape this confidence-sapping syndrome'.

Buckland advocates that having the self-awareness to recognise your own IP can be the first step to self-belief and unblocking potential.  Rather like the theory behind dealing with other self-limiting or addictive behaviours. Also, it is powerful to recognise several things; IP is a form of anxiety; our culture will impact on how powerful IP is: and many of us have the continued childhood need to fit in, which can lead to downplaying success and therefore increased potential for IP.

Some top tips to manage IP include:

  • Recognise the symptoms as the fraudsters – not you!
  • Label some of the inner conversations as characters – Buckland suggests ‘The Judge’ or ‘The Perfectionist’
  • Challenge these characters – create some opposing internal characters for this, which you can build trust in such as ‘the inner leader’.
  • Accept imperfection.
  • Clarify and trust in who you are.

Do you suffer from IP?

How did you do in the IP test?

(Just for the record I’m in the ‘frequent’ category)

Can you share your personal strategies for dealing with IP?

Any other thoughts or comments on IP?


I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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  • Imposter Syndrome everywhere - I just came across another great article:

    Imposter Syndrome

    Everyone Suffers from Impostor Syndrome — Here’s How to Handle It
    Three ways to stop feeling like a fraud.
  • An interesting subject and test. My score was 56 but as I was scoring, something struck me. 

    I have always signed up to the idea with confidence that you can 'fake it til you make it.' This is something I often exercise; the idea that although I don't feel comfortable or particularly confident, if I pretend to be confident and exhibit all the traits that a confident person has, then I will come across as confident and then in return this will make me feel more comfortable. I wonder if this approach although helps short term, actually has a negative impact on us long term adding to our IP?

    • Hi Carl,

      Thanks for your comment Carl - I mention my use of the same 'fake it til you make it' strategy below when responding to Raimonda - and ask a similar thing to you.  And as you say - whilst good in the short term, its not so handy in the longer term and potentially prolongs effects of IP.  I discussed this with a friend over the weekend, and he questioned if it was to do with not recognising when you have 'made it' i.e. not seeing that you have transitioned from the faking part to the  'doing it for real' part.  That then lead into a whole debate around does anyone actually really 'make it' lock stock and barrel or are we always a work in progress?  I would like to think the latter as I believe in continually developing, and that we are not aiming to be 'the finished article.'   But is this belief of mine the very thing which feeds IP?  Or is this whole thing not even IP, and more that by continually developing and challenging ourselves then we won't be sat in that 'made it'/comfort zone for very long, and so are constantly exposing ourselves to new challenges and the dip in confidence that those challenges inevitably bring?

  • Thank you Kathryn for the article,just yesterday I had a conversation with my colleague about IP and today i spotted your article! 

    I have done the test and i am in the frequent category. One of the opinions that i have read about - IP is inability to internalise my own accomplishments; this is so true for me as I have a habit to dwell on mistakes and brush of my accomplishments! It was surprising to see how much IP has affected people all across regardless how successful and/or famous! 

    Really liked this short video on YouTube - ;

    • Hi Raimonda, firstly thank you for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts (and the youtube link - great video).  Isn't it funny how you talk about things one day and then by coincidence see something related the very next day, I love it when that happens! 

      Its interesting what you say about the 'inability to internalise...own accomplishments' - I do this to a certain degree too, or somehow I sort of 'minimise; or make a joke of them - whereas if I was talking to someone else with the same or similar accomplishments I would be massively enthusiastic.  That said I think I am better now than I was years ago at accepting some of my achievements.

      My IP has manifested itself in a slightly different way - I was self-employed as a L&D consultant for almost 14 years, and worked with many overseas clients - and each time I would go on a trip, I had this dreadful 'little me' feeling - thinking 'well why would they want me to do their training on x; what do I know?' type thing.  But things generally went very well and when I look back at what I did now, I'm quite impressed with my former self, even though I didn't feel it at the time. 

      The challenge is, that even now, I seem partially trapped in that mindset at the start of every new project or task where I think I can't do it!  I can of course.  Funnily enough when facilitating Training Delivery type courses in the past, I always used to advise my learners to 'Fake it 'til you make it', and I even hear myself saying that to my kids when they are worried about school projects and performances.  So I suppose I do have a strategy for this - but perhaps it is this very strategy which is flawed because actually I am reinforcing that I can't do something, and therefore I am faking it....  Time to implement some of these other strategies I think!

  • I'm just in the moderate category with a score of 41. I think this has probably reduced over the years - just thinking that my younger self would have definitely scored much higher.  I think I have gained confidence over the years as I have seen the doubts I had have been unnecessary and there is something to be said about self-belief impacting your success :)

    • Karen, this is such a valid comment - and I agree that my score is likely to have decreased as time has gone by.  It then temporarily increases at the start of anything new!  I am definitely going to try out some new strategies as you are so right about the link between self-belief and success.

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