One of the most overused pieces of advice that gets thrown at job-seekers is to be enthusiastic and to show how that enthusiasm for the job will make you a dedicated employee. This advice is rarely very useful, and it's not because it's not true. It's just that it's really broad, and it doesn't really address what this means in the workplace. The result is that a lot of people think they are covering it when they put on a cheerful, perky demeanor, and that can ultimately undermine a candidate whose natural approach is quite a bit different from the perky facade put on for the interview.
There are a variety of ways to demonstrate this, and most of them don't require changing your demeanor. Instead, you can use it to highlight what it is that makes you motivated to do the job in question. Having clear thoughts that show you're engaged with the position and its various duties actually shows more enthusiasm than a smile does, because it helps you relate to the employer while showing your motivation, instead of simply performing and narrating.
Working With Your Natural Assets
So you're not generally a big smiler, that's okay. You don't even need to be a particularly cheerful person, as long as you aren't actively negative. Instead, focus on using your natural demeanor. If you are normally to-the-point and businesslike, then bring that kind of focus to your approach, discussing why you look forward to getting to work, what you plan on doing, and how you've been thinking about a position like this one. That shows a more natural kind of enthusiasm, and more importantly, it also shows how you can channel it productively. Similarly, if your natural approach is to be that smiler, go be that smiler, but think about what you can do to show that the perkiness and overt positivity you bring into the workplace are assets that will increase your overall performance.
Working with your natural assets means more than just finding a way to present this motivation, though. It also means knowing what your "tells" look like, so that you can cover them if you start to get uncomfortable during the interview. It's an important tactic to develop because almost everyone winds up with some nervousness or discomfort at some point during the process, and how well you manage that discomfort is just as important as your actual job skills. Working to avoid negative phrases, unsolicited editorializing or evaluation of others, and emotionally laden language are all great ways to train your discussion so that you don't need to worry as much about your demeanor. When you are talking about things that give you enthusiasm for the job instead of criticizing or dwelling on negative aspects of it, then it's a lot easier to project the right attitude.
Concrete Examples, Concisely Delivered
If you take a task-based or information-based approach to showing how enthusiastic you are, remember that you need to reign in your responses so that they are clear to your interviewer. When you really feel motivated to succeed, it's easy to let that run away with you, but tangents and lengthy anecdotes can confuse a listener by making them unsure about what aspects of your story they should be paying the most attention to. If the main goal is to demonstrate that you have enthusiasm for the job on top of the proper skill set, the skill set can get lost in the overflow of words caused by your emotional involvement. To keep things on track, try out these tactics:
- Practice answering behavioral interview questions, and try to find examples that can be used to answer a variety of them positively so that you have a few good answers that will serve a variety of purposes.
- Write out your answers first, to work on making sure they are both concise and detailed. Move on to practicing out loud once you are sure you have the right information.
- Relate past experience to the upcoming challenges of the job, and don't just discuss how they prepared you. Include some discussion about why these challenges intrigue you or why you find them satisfying.
Just remember, enthusiasm is like any other human emotion. It can show itself in a variety of ways, and everyone has a natural mode for it. All you have to do is find the presentation that works for your style.