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September 12, 2019

How to Show Enthusiasm in a Job Interview

Well known fact: If two job candidates are about equally qualified and equally skilled in interviewing, but one of them conveys more enthusiasm–more passion, to use the current jargon–that’s the one who will get the job. But not everyone knows how to show enthusiasm in a job interview.

As an interview coach I’ve worked with many job seekers who initially said nothing about enjoying their work, loving their occupation, or being excited about anything. Most of these job seekers, I knew, felt passionate about their work; they just weren’t bringing it into their interviewing. Often these were people in scientific or engineering professions, but not always.

Is it possible your interviews are lacking this key ingredient for success?

Maybe you feel that an interview is a formal situation (true, in many ways) so you shouldn’t show emotion (false–at least when it comes to the emotion of enthusiasm). Maybe you simply have a somewhat dry and factual style of communicating. Am I suggesting that you do a 180-degree turn and start gushing exclamation points? No! A little goes a long way. Just make sure that, at least a few times in every interview, you let your enthusiasm show.

When to show enthusiasm in an interview:

  • When you mean it. Fake enthusiasm is worse than none.
  • When you answer the question “Why are you interested in this role?” If you feel zero enthusiasm for it, either dig deeper or don’t bother interviewing.
  • When you answer the “tell me about yourself” question. What do you love about your work? Let that come across.
  • When you tell a story. What was exciting or fun about the achievement?
  • When talking about your skills. “I enjoy using Python because…”
  • When you talk about your industry, trends, and so on.
  • When you close the interview.

How to communicate enthusiasm:

  • Use enthusiastic language. For example: “One thing I love about my work/this industry is…” or “What was exciting/fascinating/great about that project was…” or “The remarkable/cool/amazing thing about that trend is…”
  • Make sure you smile now and then! Not constantly, but fairly often.
  • Where appropriate, go the extra mile. Research the company more deeply than the other candidates will. Talk to company insiders if you can. Maybe try out the company’s product and then write a brief summary of what you learned and how that’s relevant to the role. Or consider bringing in a portfolio or 30/60/90 day plan. (But no gifts or gimmicks, please!)

Above all, be authentic. Remind yourself what you’re truly passionate about in your work, bring that passion with you and let it show.

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