passion-job-interview“Sarah” was pretty upset.

“Karin, I thought the interview was in the bag. The owner seemed pleased, and I had great stories for all his behavior-based questions. But I just got an email telling me that was concerned that I might not have enough enthusiasm for training!

I’m stunned. You KNOW how important training is to me—I’m passionate about it. I thought I conveyed that in the interview. Where could I have gone wrong?”

I had an idea, but probed a bit more. And I what I discovered confirmed my inkling.

Sarah had made one of the most common mistakes that can sink a solid interview.

She appeared desperate.

Sarah had been asked, “If the training job was not available, would you take a call center manager job for a few years instead?”

She said, “Sure,” in an attempt to appear willing and flexible.

The same thing happened to “John.”  John was a succession planning candidate who came for some coaching. Having applied for several VP jobs and never getting them, he decided to get some help.

I had some conversations with key stakeholders to find out what was going on. Nearly all of them had a similar response. “He doesn’t really know what he wants, other than having the VP title by his name.”

He also apparently played the “passion” card at every interview, no matter whether the position was for sales or customer care, which made it feel like he was more passionate about the title and power than the job itself.


Four Ways to Honestly Show Your Passion for a Position

Yes, you want to appear flexible in an interview. But not too much. You don’t want to come across with, “I’ll settle for this one.” That doesn’t make you a match.

Really Know What You Want

Trust me. I’ve asked “Why do you want this job?” in so many interviews–and it’s a surprising stumper.  Interviewers worth their salt can usually see if what you really want is to “make more money” or “be promoted.” Know why the job matters and articulate that well.

Have a Strategy

It’s possible you really ARE equally qualified for a number of positions. If you are very interested in a number of roles, be able to explain the value of how holding different positions can help you contribute to the company now or in the future. (If you’re applying to several different companies, be prepared to give a logical explanation for your interest in a variety of positions.)

Know Your Stuff

Do your homework well and apply your skill sets to THIS job at THIS company. How will you know how you fit unless you do some homework? As we suggest in Winning Well, ask yourself what would be the most critical actions you could take each day to actively help your potential team and the organization achieve results? Be ready to share that in the interview.

Be Authentic with Discernment

A millennial called me to share that he might not get a job because of how he answered “Where do you want to be in 15 years?” (He answered that he wanted his own business.) Sadly, he was prepared to give 10 years to a company, so a better response would have been, “15 years is a long time, but I’d love to talk about how I can contribute for the next decade.”

It’s tough to watch good candidates lose great opportunities simply because of a slip in communication. Let your passion shine through in a wise way and get that job!

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