Sometimes it isn’t a lack of prep work that keeps you from obtaining your dream job — it might be that you’re not exuding enough passion and energy for the position.

Share story

“Leah” was discouraged with her job search and asked me to help her.

“I’m really good at what I do, but I’m not a dynamic interviewee,” Leah told me during our first meeting. “My résumé gets me the telephone interview. That gets me the in-person interview. But then I never get the job offer.”

She took a sip of coffee and sighed as she set her cup on the table.

“It’s happened over and over. I practice. I study. I do everything right. But then I don’t get the job. What’s wrong with me?”

Sometimes, like Leah, you can do everything right when it comes to preparing for an interview. And after reviewing what Leah had been doing as prep work, she had done a great job. But many hiring managers look for other attributes during job interviews that might not be specifically called out in the job description.

A friend of mine sums up these unstated attributes quite well. He says he looks for “attitude, aptitude and promotability.” In other words, he looks for someone who has a positive attitude and is energetic, who is intelligent and has the ability to learn new things, and who has long-term potential with the organization.

While a hiring manager can see some of these characteristics by reading the job candidate’s résumé, most are characteristics that come across while interviewing someone in person.

For example, even though Leah was highly professional and had good qualifications, she seemed “flat” during her interview. With each passing minute, Leah’s energy level decreased and her voice became more monotone.

Leah wasn’t selling me on her passion and drive for the job. She also wasn’t conveying work examples to show her determination to take on more challenging tasks and learn new skills. After discussing these additional attributes hiring managers seek (but which aren’t usually listed on job descriptions) Leah caught on quickly and began telling me stories about the various projects she had led and the results she was able to achieve.

Lisa Quast, columnist for The Seattle Times Jobs
Lisa Quast, columnist for The Seattle Times Jobs

Guess what? As she was telling me all this, Leah became more and more excited and her passion for her work became clearly visible. This was exactly the energetic attitude she needed to get across to hiring managers during job interviews!

Sometimes it isn’t a lack of prep work that keeps you from obtaining your dream job — it might be that you’re not exuding enough passion or energy for the position. So consider ways you can demonstrate these attributes through your nonverbal communication, as well as the examples you provide during interviews.

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.