How Keen is Too Keen?
As a favour, I once introduced a young soon-to-be fashion graduate to a friend of mine who holds a senior position at a fantastic luxury brand. This graduate wanted to be a buyer and there was a strong chance that with her excellent grades, an introduction might help her secure her a great first job. However, after they had met, I was somewhat disappointed when my friend said: “She didn’t get it.” He didn’t mean ‘it’ as in the job - rather, he meant that she did not seem to fully appreciate the brand, product and firm that he loves with a passion. I suspect that whilst she saw this as a brilliant career opportunity for a recent graduate, she had underestimated just how strongly people feel about the firm that they work for and therefore how much enthusiasm she needed to show.
In the context of a job search, one does not want to come across as needy or desperate, especially if you have:
been out of work for a while, or
if you feel that the axe is about to drop where you are currently working and you need to find something - anything - fast.
At the same time, it is important to not appear blindly enthusiastic about anything and everything that is in front of you, holding or voicing opinions with little depth and discernment.
That said, being already well-informed about the firm and showing energy, enthusiasm and curiosity are traits that prove attractive in a candidate.
So how keen is too keen? I think that the answer is found in the divide between desperation and inspiration.
There will be a certain sensibility that you project if your apparent enthusiasm is about what this job is going to do for you; like get you out of a jam, get a job and keep the cash coming into the household. Fear, desperation and living in a sense of lack are difficult emotions to control, especially if they are a reflection of your reality.
If, however, your keenness and enthusiasm are based on an informed appreciation of an organisation or brand, then you will likely present as a highly attractive candidate. Therefore, it is important to be able to explain to a potential employer the reasons why you are enthusiastic about their business, listing a number of compelling reasons born out of critical thought, or simply a feeling of inspiration and passion that has grown within you as you have come to understand the firm in greater depth.
Success in job interviews is, to an extent, about transference of emotion. Enthusiasm sells. But not fake enthusiasm which feels forced. So, find things about the firm in their brand, mission, style, values, people, etc. that you genuinely find exciting and be ready talk about it. Be ready to ask questions of them from the position of wanting to make the right choice for you and to inform your enthusiasm further