Showing Passion in the Interview Without Looking Like a Maniac
In an interview, some people come across with an enthusiasm that is simply infectious. Those people have set themselves in a great position and are likely going to be the top candidates for the job. In a position where there may be many people with similar credentials, the competition for the position is high. I can assure you, an appropriately passionate person will win that job.
I say “appropriately passionate” because sometimes, with the wrong tone or too much gesticulation, passion can come across as mania. Wild stories, and a very loud tone can be as off-putting as a monotone. Here are a few tips for getting yourself ready to present your accomplishments in the best light possible.
Do your research. Know about the company and what their goals are. Read their mission and vision, and if possible, their values. Talk to people who work there to get a read on the department and maybe what their challenges are. Do a little research on yourself, too. Think about the accomplishments you’ve had at other positions. Come up with some examples of times you’ve learned quickly and when you’ve been able to help and coach others. Being prepared with relevant examples will help you show your passion without flying off on an unrelated tangent. Anything that will parallel the current duties of the position is a good topic.
One piece of advice that I gave a family member before an interview for which they were very anxious was to relax. He had prepared appropriately and done everything right to get ready for this interview. Now, he needed to center himself, relax, and organize his thoughts. I had him get there early and play Angry Birds on his phone for about 10 minutes before going into the building. It’s easy to psych yourself out. Doing something that is completely unrelated will help loosen you up. And, getting there early will give you a little cushion of time that will put you at ease, too.
Read your interviewer
If your interviewer speaks more slowly than you do, slow your speech a bit to match their pace of conversation. If you’re a fast talker, make sure you’re enunciating your words and are clear. Same thing goes for slow talkers. If your interviewer is talking more quickly, try to pick up the pace.
Ask your interviewer what brought them to the company. What do they like best about working there? What is the biggest challenge facing the department? Ask thoughtful questions, not just questions that you’ve picked up from the internet. Think it through and contribute to the conversation. If you are indeed passionate, I’m willing to bet there are lots of things you’d like to know. Don’t interrogate your interviewer, but several well thought-out questions and dialogue will place you ahead of the competition.
Follow up after the interview
I recently had a candidate who not only followed up to thank the interviewer for his time, but also went on to offer several suggestions for dealing with a particular departmental issue. Guess who went to the top of the list?
Be genuine, be relevant
Remember, a good, relevant story that shows how you’ve contributed in other positions followed by a good dialogue is going to inch you ahead of the competition. Those who are genuine in their interest and intentions will win out over those who are less so. Remember that your interviewer is a professional, and has likely spoken with many people in an interview setting. Being less than genuine will show right away.
Part ways with the interviewer with a handshake and a smile, making eye contact. Make sure that you don’t walk out the door without letting them know that you want that job. Ask them if, after talking with you, they have any concerns about your ability to perform well in the job.
Manners count as much as passion. Be genuine, thoughtful, and interested. Your passion will shine through and that job is as good as yours!