Look Interested, Not Desperate

A job interview is like dating — you want to seem interested but not overly interested to the point where you’re undesirable — available but in demand, agreeable but with limits.

People look for jobs for all sorts of reasons.

You may want more money. You may want to work in a field that offers more growth. You may want to move to another part of the country. Often, a job seeker just wants to get away from her boss.

These are all acceptable reasons to look for a new career opportunity, but they’re all “wants” as opposed to “needs.” When you need a job, it’s a bit of a different story.

Even in the $100K+ job market, there are moments of desperation. Strategically, that can be a problem because looking and acting like a desperate job seeker can be a huge turnoff to potential employers.

It’s like dating. You want to seem interested but not overly interested to the point where you’re undesirable — available but in demand, agreeable but with limits.

“By being desperate, you’re underselling your value and I don’t think that’s in your interest,” said Mark Grimm, a public speaking trainer and author of “Everyone Can Be A Dynamic Speaker.” He said it all starts with your self assessment. Figuring out what you can offer a company can help you overcome any anxiety you have toward the needed job.

“You have to understand what your value is,” Grimm said. “The employer wants to hear, not arrogance, but a clear sense of what your value is.”

If you’re dating someone you really like, you don’t want to scare him away, right?

“You don’t want to appear overeager,” said Lisa Panarello, founder and CEO of Careers Advance, a professional training and coaching agency in New York. “You don’t want to follow up immediately (and) say ‘yes’ to everything.”

Don’t Settle

If you need a new job, it may be tempting to drop everything if a hiring company comes calling.

When the interview is taking place, the hiring manager could lay out responsibilities that are not ideal. If you know what you’re willing to do, Panarello says, you should make sure you don’t agree just for the sake of agreeing — even if you are desperate.

“That whole I’ll-go-anywhere attitude, it’s not what they’re looking for and it’s not realistic,” she said. “You still have to adapt your communication to whatever job you’re looking for … even if you’re willing to come down a peg on salary or title.”

As the employment manager of the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa in Houston, Texas, Kay Pyatt has been on the other end of such interviews for years and she can spot desperation from a mile away.

Usually, she said, it comes in the form of a candidate who is applying for a particular position but he wants to keep a foot in the door of other less-paying jobs if he doesn’t get the first one.

“It’s a little distracting,” she said.

Pyatt said that secondary job interests are better discussed after there’s closure on the first one.

“It’s best in the beginning that you have a plan,” she said. “Certainly if that doesn’t work, we can look at something else.”