For most people searching for a job sucks inhales profusely. It can be an emotional roller coaster, day to day, trying to figure out where your next pay check is coming from, how to get by, and how to build yourself up in the process to keep your head above water and make yourself a desirable interview candidate.
But for some, the emotions from the job hunt carry over into the interview process causing them to exhibit sentiments that can rub the interviewer the wrong way. And, while emotional intelligence and being in-tune with how your emotions guide your performance is becoming a more sought after trait in employees, being overly emotional does not equate to emotional intelligence.
Interviewers know the job hunt can be tough on applicants. They might even empathize with your situation, but if your goal is to land a job, avoid playing out a scenario in the interview that will have hiring managers black-listing your resume.
While the interview is trending to become more of a two-way conversation, the bottom line of the interview is still about what you can do for the company and not the other way around.
More often than I’d like to admit, I witness job seekers in the interview process exclaiming all the reasons they need the job, from health insurance, family obligations, medical issues, and pet woes, to visa proceedings and lovers’ quarrels.
Some stories are touching, some are downright frightening, and some just leave the interviewer shaking their head. What these job seekers have failed to impart is why they should be hired based on the company’s needs, not their own. Their unintentional self-centered approach is a form of self-sabotage in the interview.
And, for goodness sake, whatever you do, keep your composure and don’t cry in the interview! Yes, some interviewers have a heart and might console you or try to help, but most will see you as unstable and try to end the interview as quickly as possible to avoid any further issues or complications.
Negative Nancys or Nicks
Perhaps you’ve been out of work for awhile and the endless job search has left a bad taste in your mouth or maybe you just got up on the wrong side of the bed. Either way, do an attitude check before you walk into an interview.
You may or may not realize that all of that negative energy, whether it’s frustration, annoyance, cynicism, or anger, is being carried with you like baggage and set right in the middle of the table between you and the interviewer.
If you want the job, make sure you show it! If you are finding your brain filled with negative sentiments, take each thought and find it’s opposite, positive counterpart to focus on before you speak.
And, for those rare interview candidates that carry their negative attitude like a badge of honor, who think they know everything, and use their language to try to intimidate or put an interviewer in their place, you ruined your chances for the job the moment you opened your mouth.
(And, yes, I have had a candidate who came in spouting a series of curse words alongside the fact that they had experience and that I would be stupid to not put them to work right now, followed by another derogatory expression, finally ending with an “Are we done here, I’m ready to work.” At which point I responded, “Yes, we’re done here,” left the room, and politely had security walk them out. )
Now, I commonly recommend job seekers go on interviews even if it’s not an exact fit or match. Why? Because, one, it’s good practice, and two, you’ll never know what other opportunities exist if you don’t explore, and sometimes it’s the opportunities we didn’t consider at first that lead us down a path of discovery to work we enjoy.
But, if you have absolutely no interest in a job from either the opportunity itself or the learning experience, do not go on the interview and waste both yours and the interviewer’s time.
Guess what–most interviewers can see right through the bunk and drivel you’re feeding them when you’re disinterested. They want to hire individuals who are going to give it their all, and if you’re not presenting that in the interview, you’re probably not going to give any more energy on the job.
Don’t feign interest in a job just because you’re out for a pay check. In fact, if you’re trying to get hired for a professional job, you may be in the search for quite some time until you adjust your attitude and give employers good reasons to hire you. Your lack of emotion and enthusiasm towards the job is what’s holding you back.
If you’re really not that interested in finding something about work that drives you and focusing on why you’re going to be great at it, you’re better off focusing on entry-level or non-professional jobs that don’t require a lot of customer service skills and have a lot of turnover (the type of jobs where you’re considered a warm-body versus a human being.)
Job seekers, don’t be in denial of your attitude and emotions, whatever they may be, during your job search. It’s not that hiring managers and recruiters don’t have hearts or don’t empathize with you–their job is to find the best talent to help the company succeed.
If you’re holding yourself back from being successful in the interview because of your emotional state, you’re probably going to carry those same emotions into the job, which is why you’re not getting any job offers.
My advice: Be selfish in your desire to succeed, but selfless in your appeal to attract success.
Meaning, be selfish enough to take the time to understand your needs and desires in a job, and process all your emotions surrounding your desire to get a particular job. But, when it’s time to work towards making your vision a reality, remember that it’s not about you and shift that focus onto what you can do for others (the company, the interviewer, etc.), and you will find that your selflessness gets you closer to your selfish goals (in the job search, and in life) and releases you from your emotional ties to the personal issues that are weighing you down.
Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Interviewing.com. Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog, RestlessPillow.com, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.