A reputable recruiter told me that his three non-negotiables when deciding whether to advance a candidate in the interview process are honesty, responsiveness, and a positive attitude.
The most noticeable factor when you first meet someone is positivity. Think about any social situation–from a casual party to a professional networking event. Who do you gravitate toward? The person who’s smiling, making conversation and looks like they’re enjoying themselves, or someone who’s not smiling seated in the corner looking at their phone? The same principle applies when you’re interviewing.
If you’ve made it to the in-person interview stage, the employer knows you likely have the skills to do the job. Now it’s time to figure out whether you’re a fit, which you can demonstrate in large part by projecting positivity.
Here are 7 ways you can demonstrate a positive attitude in your next job interview:
1. Don’t bring up negatives!
If you know you have skill gaps or fewer years of experience than they wanted, don’t raise these points unless you’re specifically asked! Focus your response on the direct and closely-related experience you do have, like this:
If you’re lacking a certain expertise: “We’re looking for someone who’s directly managed a team—I can’t see on your résumé where you have that experience.”
“I’ve managed cross-functional teams of up to 15 people, where I was directly in charge of building agendas, facilitating team meetings, and spearheading all project communication. People frequently gave me positive feedback for keeping things moving forward. I’ve also managed up to 2 direct and 5 indirect reports. I’m confident that I’ll easily be able to step into managing this team of 6 bringing to the table my combined management experience.”
If you have less experience than they’d like: “Ideally we’d like to bring on board an operations professional with at least a decade of experience.”
“Right. In my 6.5 years at Antelope Manufacturing, I’ve overseen expansion of our warehouse space from 50,000 to 200,000 sq. ft. My recommendations for a new CRM and ERP system have been fully implemented and a catalyst for a $5M increase in annual revenue. I’ve achieved a lot in that time and look forward to applying that expertise to this role.”
Whatever you do, even if you’re completely miserable in your current (or latest) job, never throw your employer under the bus. A software company hiring manager recalled a time when a candidate had made a great first impression…until he started talking about his company. “He said he didn’t want to talk badly about his employer, and then proceeded to do just that for five minutes. He completely wrecked the good impression he’d made. There’s no way I’d want to work with someone who could not leave a negative experience in the past.”
If you’re unhappy in your current job: “Why are you leaving your current company?” or “Why are you in the job market?”
“I’ve had a great run been at John Day Industries for 8 years, and I’ve been promoted twice during that time. Since there aren’t anymore opportunities for growth, it’s time for me to move on so I can continue to develop in my career and bring my solid marketing expertise to this company.”
You should take your interview seriously, but not so much so that you forget to smile. Overcome those nerves and remember to smile occasionally throughout the conversation to show that you’re an approachable person—a person that they’d want to work with.
3. Show a Sense of Humor
People hire people they like, and the hiring manager is assessing you for fit as much or more than they’re sizing up your ability to do the job. Build rapport by showing your personality. Part of that is to show a good sense of humor, finding ways to add levity to the conversation.
4. Make it All About Them
Ask not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company.
You’ve come prepared with several good stories to share as examples to back up your skills and attributes. But don’t just highlight random career wins–make sure the stories apply to this job and this company. Everything you say should be as relevant and applicable to this opportunity as possible. For example, in this situation where selling to healthcare vertical is important, rather than:
“I drove $4M in sales in the first half of 2018.” Say “I drove $4M in sales in the first half of 2018 in our healthcare and financial sectors by expanding accounts.”
5. Ask Good Questions
Show that you’re interested and engaged by asking questions—questions that can’t easily be answered through an online search or their website, such as “What made you join and stay with this company?”, “What is your top priority for this role/department/project short term? In 3 years?”, or “Who succeeds here?”
6. Show Some Energy
You should have several good stories to tell that bring to life your skills and experience that are relevant to the job. When you’re relating stories and achievements, be conscious of your delivery. Show some energy and enthusiasm for what you’re saying, otherwise your stories will fall flat and the interviewer’s eyes will start to glaze over. Practice your delivery in front of a mirror and ask yourself, “Am I telling this story in an interesting way? Would I be engaged if I were on the other side of the desk?”
7. Say You’re Excited About the Job and Ask For It!
Another way to show a positive attitude in your job interview is to remember to say that you’re interested in the job! Take advantage of points in the conversation where it’s natural to express your interest and enthusiasm. At the end of your meeting you can wrap up by saying, “I’ve really enjoyed our conversation today, and I’m excited about the opportunity. What’s the next step?” Then ask for the job. “I look forward to the chance to bring my expertise to this role. I’d really like to work here!”
Do these 7 things come naturally when you’re in your job interview? What other ways can you show your positivity?
I’m Dalena Bradley, job interview coach and career marketer dedicated to helping you communicate your value, stand out from the competition, and win the job!
Contact me to discuss how we can collaborate.