The best presenter I ever saw taught me something about selling. It wasn’t his words so much as his attitude. When he spoke he was excited, exciting and fun. He totally believed in what he was presenting. He set up his presentation so that he gradually sucked his audience in to what he was saying. But it wasn’t so much his words as much as his attitude. And his attitude was persuasive.
And so it is with interviewing.
When you are on an interview, you must be relaxed, confident and excited. If you communicate your excitement for the job, for your business and, most of all, for yourself, you can get the job. If you are calm and communicate in monotones, you will not get the job. Simple as that.
I had a conversation with a candidate recently that was disturbing. He told me his age, mid-fifties (He should never have told me his age; I could tell). Unfortunately, he has had five jobs in the last eight years. Every one of the companies either lost business or changed directions. One of them was an in-house agency for a Fortune top fifty; the company decided to no longer support its in-house agency. None of it was his fault. But he said something to me which was quite revealing, “I am fifty-four, I have no longer have illusions that my next job will be the big one. I am past that. I just want to work for the next ten or twelve years, hopefully at the same company which does not lose business or decide to change directions.” That statement certainly reflected how he feels about his career and his age. It also communicated utter defeat. No one wants to hire a defeated executive. The point is to think before you speak.
Over the years, I have had many executives, some of whom were many years younger than fifty-four, communicate their unhappiness, often not in words but in their attitude. Being let go is always tough. My heart goes out to people who through no fault of their own end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But if you let yourself get down, this attitude will be reflected in your interviewing. As the song says, it is vitally important to “pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.” Successful people do that. In the case that I just mentioned, wouldn’t it have been better if the candidate had said to me, “I can’t believe that this has happened to me, but I had no way of knowing – none of those companies told me that they had problems while I was interviewing. But now I know that I needed to ask about the state of their business before I accepted a job. I am determined that this will not happen again and that the next job I get will be for keeps.” Any positive statement he made would have reflected a better outlook.
Words don’t sell, attitudes do.
The best job candidates exude enthusiasm for what they do and who they are. I recently had a mid-level executive get an offer for a very senior job. She exuded so much confidence and passion for herself during her interviewing that the company knew she could do the job and she beat out several better qualified candidates. The hiring manager told me that she had the best attitude of anyone they interviewed. Positive attitude should be innate. If you are confident and passionate, but it does not show, you need to learn how to tap into your inner resources to communicate those traits.
Many candidates become thoughtful and introspective when they interview. But interviewing is not a time for you to be overly cautious. Rather, it is a time for enthusiasm and positive energy.