In a tightly run job race, when the two top candidates have equal qualifications, the job offer will always go to the most intelligently enthusiastic candidate. The problem for most of us is that interviews are stressful events, and under stress our defenses go up and any natural enthusiasm for our work is buried in a wall of stiff professionalism. This can get in the way of winning job offers, because employers see enthusiasm for your work as signal that:
- You are more likely to invest yourself in developing competency in the skills of your profession.
- You will work harder and will turn in a superior work product.
- You will be easier to work with, and more likely to become a productive team player.
However, while making yourself smile and saying you want the job shows enthusiasm and is more than many people will do, it’s rarely enough.
Look at Your Work in New Ways
Intelligent enthusiasm can only be expressed with a deep understanding of your work, its challenges, and your evident enjoyment in tackling those challenges every day. For most people, achieving this understanding requires looking at the work you do in a new way.
Your job exists for one reason only, as a small but important cog in the complex machinery that helps your employer make money. Your job does this by bringing money in, stopping it going out, or otherwise improving productivity. You need to think through whether your job is chiefly concerned with revenue generation, asset protection, improving productivity in some way, or is perhaps a combination of these activities.
Once you have determined how your job, and in turn your department, contributes to profitability, you need to think about how your performance in that job can help you make your maximum contribution.
Whatever your job title or level of professional elevation on the ladder of success the true guts of your job are:
- To understand the professional landscape of your work well enough that you can anticipate, identify, and execute your responsibilities in ways that prevent problems from arising in the first place.
- To expeditiously solve the problems that nevertheless occur every day within your area of responsibility; and to do so with concern for how your execution will impact customers, vendors, and others who in their turn have to deal with the results of your work.
How to Express Intelligent Enthusiasm
Hiring managers base their judgments of your professional competency partly on the statements you make in response to their questions about the work you do, and partly on the questions you ask; because the questions you ask can display a depth of understanding that statements do not. You express intelligent enthusiasm by enthusiastically discussing the real issues of your work; having examples ready that show your engagement in the way you execute your work to both prevent and solve problems typical of your area of expertise.
You also express intelligent enthusiasm by asking questions about the problems this new job will typically dump on your desk every week, and both how this hiring manager likes them handled, and the problems s/he has in getting them handled that way.
Let understanding and enthusiasm for your work shine through, because when it comes to a tightly run job race between equally qualified candidates, that job offer will always go to the most intelligently enthusiastic candidate. Show enthusiasm for your work, your profession, and the opportunity; it just might be the tiebreaker that delivers your ideal job.