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February 13, 2019

Job Interview Success: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Around February 14 we hear a lot of slogans and sayings about love. What’s love got to do with getting a job? Well, try this. Substitute the word “enthusiasm” for “love” in some of those sayings.

Enthusiasm makes the world go ’round. Enthusiasm will find a way. You can’t buy enthusiasm.

There’s a lot of truth there, right? Maybe enthusiasm is related to love. I don’t know, I’m not a philosopher, I’m a career coach.

What I do know is this: If two candidates are about equally qualified and equally skilled in interviewing, but one of them conveys more enthusiasm–more passion, to use the term currently in vogue–the one with enthusiasm will get the job.

As an interview coach I’ve done hundreds of mock interviews in which the job seeker never once says anything 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.

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 a job 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.

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. There is no contradiction between being authentic and showing enthusiasm. Nail both of those things and you’ve gone a long way toward getting the job.

There’s at least one other way love is not irrelevant in a job interview, and it’s this. The interviewer is a human being. Sometimes we forget that and start seeing him or her as the Great Almighty Judge and Holder of All Power, instead of as a person like oneself who has fears, hopes, humor and love, and who probably likes puppies and pizza and believes in the Golden Rule just as much as we do. Think about that in advance. Imagine the interviewer becoming your friend eventually. You may find you begin to have a more comfortable feeling toward this person, a feeling of liking–another relative of love? A little genuine warmth is enough to make the interview go much better.

You don’t want to be a heartless brain at your interview. Find your real, authentic warmth and enthusiasm, and bring it along.

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