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The #1 Forgotten Quality in Interviews

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Interviews. People conduct them, people take them, people waste your time in them. No matter what side of the table you’re on, interviewer or interviewee, the process can be as equally shitty. There are plenty of articles out there that give crazy lists of ‘top things NOT to say,’ ‘why you should never wear green’ or ‘how to master eye-brow statuses,’ etc. etc. This ain’t that. 

Not only are those articles getting more and more creative, but some of the ‘techniques’ I’ve read are just plain ridiculous. Don’t ever use the bathroom freshener on yourself before the interview in an attempt to smell, ‘familiar.’ No matter what you read! This article however, will provide feedback on one simple and strangely overlooked quality that every interviewee AND interviewer should have; enthusiasm.

And before you stop reading, thinking this is just some basic bullshit advice, consider this:


When your qualifications, experience, or skills don’t set you apart from others, what will?


Recruiters and hiring managers are viewing 100’s of resumes for the role. They will sort them by skills and experience. If you think you’re the only one that can do what you do, think again (see TLC: Special). Candidates are collected based on a similar filter. It stands to reason that by the time you get the interview, everyone else that got one too will have similar resumes. You need to bring your enthusiasm where others don’t.

This doesn’t mean you need to juggle knives over circus music. It means speaking intelligently about yourself, you goals, and your interest in the current position with passion. Excitement can be infectious. You absolutely want to infect your interviewer with that enthusiasm. It puts you AND them in a positive and receptive mental state. Enthusiasm is essentially the brain-hacking of first impressions. Quote dat shit. 


I’ve conducted many interviews over the years and am still surprised at how absent enthusiasm can be. It’s been a dealbreaker for me when hiring, even though the candidate was otherwise qualified. Interviewers want to see that you want the opportunity and what kind of attitude your going to bring to the table. Even if you’re the laid-back mofo that always strolls to his own drumbeat, (fantastic), you still need to show your energy for the job. You can do this by:


  • Describe exactly how a recent challenge you overcame, applies to the job at hand
  • Ask intelligent ‘deeper-than-the-surface’ questions about the role and its measurement for success
  • Share the details you learned when doing research on the company, its founders, and culture
  • Be animated, active, engaged: illustrate your answers, role play, or just lean in with confidence
  • Remember people’s names and use them. Don’t make it weird, make it genuine.


This should all come naturally if its sincere, but your extra awareness will be valuable. Think about the emotional benchmark for most all interviews. You’re nervous, in a new environment, stressed, and thinking so hard to say or remember your preparation that the focus on professionalism can leave you quite a bit rigid. It’s easy to lose sight of the JOY in both your work and ambitions.


The importance of enthusiasm goes for hiring managers too. 

Why would anyone want to work for someone that isn’t enthusiastic about their company, what they’re doing, and who they’re meeting with? After all they should be selling you on the position too. Anyone conducting an interview should show enthusiasm in some way, at some point. Interviewers can often leverage their position as a power-play to keep the interviewee on guard or uncomfortable, which can be a reasonable tactic for particular jobs. BUT, this should not exist for the entire interview, AND if it does, you the candidate need to probe for more.

When it’s time to ask questions to your interviewer, inquire about:

  • The company culture,
  • How co-workers have fun, and/or
  • Previous team-building activities

Look for the enthusiasm in their answers. Ensuring that your potential colleagues are enthusiastic about their work is a key indicator of culture, management quality, and morale. When both sides become enthusiastic, the exchange can escalate into an unexpected reveal of stories and skills that only further cements the connection.

It may seem like common sense, but enthusiasm is all to often overlooked and forgotten in interviews. Remember, CareerPunk is all about energy, attitude, and individuality. How better to demonstrate that than through your enthusiasm? And, for the love of the gods, if you’re not enthusiastic about a job, don’t apply for it! You’ll be saving yourself and the company a lot of time and misery.


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