Let’s say you’re applying to multiple jobs in your current job search. You’re interested in all of them to a degree, but some are more exciting to you than others. However, instead of being contacted by the most appealing employer on your list, you receive a call to interview for a position that’s in your middle tier. While you’re intrigued by this position, you already know you would be better-suited for other roles on your list. Still, you have an interview for this job, unlike the other positions you’ve applied for. So how do you show up for your interview and show the passion the hiring manager wants to see, when really you’re feeling “meh” at best.
You should take the interview offer seriously for two reasons. One, you might be more excited about the company or the role after interacting with the hiring manager and asking questions about the job. Second, you never know how many interviews you’ll be offered, so take each one seriously, even if it’s not for your dream role.
With that last objective in mind, you may wonder how to show passion in a job interview for a job that isn’t your top choice. Here are some of our best – and most honest – tactics.
Figure out why this position would set you up for future success.
You already know this role isn’t one you’ll be interested in for the long term. But if you applied for it, it likely would advance your career trajectory in some way. That’s exciting!
So, you should be able to pinpoint exactly what you’re enthusiastic about in the position before the interview. Do your research by scanning the duties on the posting, as well as researching the company. Would you look forward to expanding your managerial capacity? Taking advantage of the company’s mentorship program?
Be sure to have a list of facets of the role that entice you. Then, you can sincerely speak passionately about these aspects, especially if the hiring manager asks the question, “Why are you interested in this position?”
Discuss your passions as they relate to the position.
What separates a good candidate from a great one? Harvard Business Review suggests it’s the latter’s ability to convey what matters to them in an interview.
They offer three ways to share your passion:
- Focus on why you’ve made your career decisions. Your resume focused on what you’ve done, which landed you the interview. Now, describe the “why” that has directed your career. For instance, if you’ve developed professional development initiatives for your colleagues, discuss how important it was for you to build community at your previous place of employment.
- Describe when you’ve gone above what was expected of you. When did you do more than was asked of you? This is a key descriptor of passion: devoting more time and energy to a particular project or type of task.
- Talk about your hobbies and volunteer work. The idea here isn’t to talk about your love of painting, unless that’s relevant to the role, but rather to discuss what you love so much you would do it for free. “When you’re passionate about something, it tends to spill over into other aspects of your life,” HBR notes.
Only say what you mean, not what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
If you’re lukewarm about a position, you may feel the impulse to oversell your interest. That could mean answering the hiring manager’s questions in an effusive way, or describing the position as your “dream job.”
It’s not a good idea to exaggerate in a job interview, mostly because hiring managers can spot insincerity from a mile away. A better tactic is to talk about the aspects of the job that do inspire you. Focus on the parts of the role that made you enthusiastic about applying in the first place. The more you try to show passion that you don’t really feel, the less genuine you’ll seem so focus on what you are excited about.
Prior to the interview, prepare stories that demonstrate your passion.
You don’t have to wait for the hiring manager to ask a question like, “Why are you interested in this role?” to show your passion. Instead, write down three stories relevant to the position before the interview and share them when the interview asks a relevant question.
Here’s career coach Anish Majumdar for Ivy Exec’s advice: “Go into that room and tell yourself, “I’m going to share 3 stories that I’m really passionate about with regards to my work and life. I’m going to ask 30% more questions than I might otherwise feel comfortable with. And if I do that, I’ll have earned that ice cream sundae/Double IPA/insert vice of choice I’ll be treating myself to IMMEDIATELY afterwards!”
Interviewing for a Middle-of-the-Road Position
If you’re applying to a job, you should have a sincere interest in the role. So, if you are eventually called for an interview, you shouldn’t be disappointed! What’s more, using our strategies for how to show passion in an interview can help you advance you in your job search, or gain valuable practice for your next interviews.
The next step is to question whether or not you would take this job if it were offered to you. Key is balancing your middling interest in the role with the likelihood you’ll be offered a better one. Read our guide on “Take it or Wait: Evaluating a Job Offer” for more guidance in that regard.