Employers obviously evaluate credentials such as education and work history when thinking about whom to hire. But don’t discount the value of a factor not as cut and dry, but perhaps equally beneficial—showing passion in a job interview.
“Passion is just as, if not more, important as experience in a job interview,” says Kristen J. Zavo, author of Job Joy: Your Guide to Success, Happiness, and Meaning in Your Career. “That’s because showing that you’ve got genuine interest in the industry, company, and role means that you’ll do what it takes to be successful because you actually care and are internally motivated.”
Smart candidates do more than simply toss the word “passion” around. They find memorable, yet tactful, ways to show and demonstrate passion in a job interview.
Ready to show your passion in a job interview? Try these strategies:
Start off strong.
Zavo recommends displaying passion from the get-go with a thoughtful answer to the obligatory interview question, “Tell me about yourself.”
“Sharing your education, experience, and skills in a way that both shows your excitement and positions you as the optimal candidate for the job is key to instilling confidence in the interviewer,” she says.
Instead of just stating that you’ve been interested in a career path, paint a vivid picture. For example, if you’re interviewing for architectural jobs, recount how you’ve been intrigued by building design ever since Santa left a bucket of Legos under the tree when you were five. Detail why your internship with Architectural Firm XYZ was the highlight of your college honor’s program. Mention how the look on the new residents’ faces as they opened the door to a home you helped build with Habitat for Humanity increased your commitment to affordable housing issues. Listeners will note a pattern of passion to kick off your interview.
Ask great questions.
People who care about a subject want to know as much as possible about it. Asking why the company adopted a new advertising plan or soliciting the interviewer for their thoughts on why the firm recently was named to a list of great places to work demonstrates admirable curiosity. Such detailed questions also show you’ve done your homework—another sign of a passionate candidate.
Go the extra mile.
For people who are passionate about what they do, going above and beyond often comes naturally. Hiring managers can’t help but notice genuine actions, so don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Sean Pour, cofounder of the nationwide car buying service SellMax, remembers interviewing a candidate for a position as a call center agent.
“We were asking the normal questions about her experience. She was nice and smart, but we still had others to interview,” he says. As they were wrapping up, however, she pulled something out of her purse—a cared-for collection of toy cars that she had since childhood. She told the interviewers that she and her father bonded through cars when she was growing up, she always wanted to be involved in the industry but was not mechanically inclined, and she saw this position as a perfect fit.
“After seeing the prop and her clear passion for the industry, I hired her right on the spot. I knew that if she was so passionate about the job, she would do well, and she did,” Pour says.
Reiterate interest afterward.
Lastly, solidify your passion as the real deal with an impressive follow-up. A heartfelt thank-you note displays gratitude as well as provides further opportunity to share something about yourself or your excitement about the position.
Or, perhaps, try something like this action that drew the attention of Carolina King, chief people officer for the executive search firm Lucas Group:
“One recent candidate really impressed me with their passion in a follow-up email exchange. The initial interview went well, and we gave him feedback that we wanted to proceed with him but had a few more interviews we planned to conduct. He wrote a response with the subject line ‘call off the search, you have already found the right hire,’ and he included a 90-day plan for the role. This showed enthusiasm, a purposeful plan, and a sense of humor that immediately landed him the role!”
Demonstrating your passion in an interview can really set you apart from the competition. Let employers know you’re personally motivated and interested in the role and company by utilizing the tips above.
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