In today’s professional world…enthusiasm…is one of the most highly regarded and sought after qualities out there. And its importance is on the rise. Whether an employee, manager, colleague or candidate, your career success is connected to your ability to project excitement, curiosity, engagement and a positive attitude to those around you…and the work you perform.
And no setting is more critical than the job interview. Employers closely assess and judge candidates on their level of “enthusiasm” for an opportunity-and are unforgiving when a deficiency exists. So regardless of how qualified a candidate may be, a candidacy can be won…or lost on this single expression. Given this reality, it is critical to tend to this aspect of your interview prep and overall career development. But some professionals are uncomfortable in this pursuit because they’re not quite sure how to do so without being unnatural.
So how does one successfully project enthusiasm without being phony or awkward?
Understanding your general demeanor is a good starting point. Are you laid back? Intense? Jolly? Gregarious? Ask a friend or colleague for feedback on your manner and see where you fall on the enthusiasm meter. Next, it’s helpful to appreciate what “enthusiasm” really means so you know what to aim for. To an employer, it means that you are happy to be there – alert, actively engaged, curious, knowledgeable, energetic, upbeat…and you can carry a conversation. It also manifests itself in a firm handshake, excellent eye contact and a smile.
The great news is that most every aspect of enthusiasm is within your control. The key is preparation and practice. So before your next interview, consider this (brief) 10 step prep list to help enhance your zest and zeal:
- Schedule Your Interview When You’re at Your Best. If you’re not a morning person, a 9am meeting isn’t the wisest choice and vice versa. If you have any say, schedule your interview when you’re at your best.
- Research. Educate yourself thoroughly for your interview: the employer, the industry, the interviewer. Identify all the things that excite and interest you about the opportunity and be prepared to discuss. The more you know, the more confidence and enthusiasm you’ll project.
- Know Thyself. Why should they hire you? What areas do you excel? Strengths? Weaknesses? If you were a bird, what kind would you be and why? Be prepared for anything – and you’ll be excited to talk about it.
- Eye Contact and Firm Handshake. Practice until perfect. No exceptions.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep. It’s proven that sleep deprivation affects brainpower so make sure to catch your zzzz’s the night before your interview. You’ll be crisper and more engaged.
- Eat Well. Eat a healthy meal or snack at least one hour before your interview for energy. Avoid the burger and go for something light or you’ll wind up sluggish from food coma.
- Arrive early. There’s nothing that is more stressful and discombobulating than being late for an important meeting. Arrive 30-45 minutes early and sit quietly in your car, outside or in the lobby to gather your thoughts and charge your battery.
- Focus. Remember why you are there and why you are interested in the position. You’ve earned the opportunity to compete for this great role. Be excited about it and channel your inner Rocky Balboa to pump yourself up for a great interview. Stay focused on being engaged and staying energized.
- Send a thank you note. It’s the exclamation point to your message of interest.
Enthusiasm has never been as important in the legal profession as it is today. And it isn’t always easy to muster. Some professionals project it more naturally than others–and demeanor plays a role. But it’s a feeling that can be enhanced naturally if one has the desire and develops the tools to do so. So dedicate the time to this worthy goal and you will see how a little more enthusiasm will bring a lot more excitement to your career.