If you want to impress an interviewer, talk about how much you love what you do. A new study in Science Direct finds that job seekers underestimate the effect of talking about this internal motivator in job interviews to their disadvantage.
To get the job, be enthusiastic about your work
To find out what we actually value in hiring decisions, Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach surveyed more than a 1,000 full-time employees and MBA students across five studies.
In one of the studies, the researchers had participants pick between two pitches. One pitch emphasized what internally motivates us —“I love doing my work”— while the other pitch emphasized extrinsic motivation —”The position would be a great place for me to advance my career.” The majority of job candidates incorrectly guessed that the recruiters preferred to hear about the extrinsic motivation pitch.
But they were not alone in thinking like this. In a separate study, recruiters underestimated how much candidates wanted to hear about a company culture that emphasized intrinsic motivation with statements like “Employees here value doing work that they love.”
The researchers suggest this discrepancy could be because we think about these passions more in our heads and not enough out loud. Because we do not talk about it, we think it does not matter to others. “Because pursuit of intrinsic rewards is often private, people fail to realize that others care about these rewards,” the study states.
We may think that listing out our accomplishments and talking about our career arc is impressive to an interviewer. But when we talk about how we are motivated to work for the work alone, we are demonstrating that we are going to be driven candidates, even without the pressures of deadlines and the promises of big paychecks.
We know that we need to talk about our skills and ambitions in an interview but if we want to land the job of our dreams, we need to talk more about how we value interesting, meaningful work.