The passive candidate. We assign a “better” label to those not necessarily looking for a new job. They don’t have the “maintenance” of the active candidate perhaps unemployed – for a while. Candidly, we do not judge them like we do the others.
Yesterday I had an interview prep conversation with a passive candidate. Here is a glimpse… He says, “The 30-minute commute is something I am really going to have to look at.” I said (non-confrontational tone), “Ya know, maybe we should just cancel the interview?” He says, “Maybe we should?”
We sort all that out and rather than go verbatim with more quotation marks, let me get to the good stuff. He offers this pearl of wisdom, “It is all about hunger, isn’t it?” I could not have agreed more and discerned quickly – he is career fat and job happy enough. No hunger pangs at all. So…. what are we going to do today, Mr. Passive? Are we going to be Mr. Curious or Mr. What Have You Got For Me? (yawn, lay back, prop feet up on conference room table)
Allow me to provide the answer – Curiosity is the key interview ingredient. Curiosity brings engagement and damn near momentary enthusiasm. As candidate short is the market is, hiring managers still want someone who is at least interested in the job. They want someone who is interested in solving their issues, optimizing their processes, improving their culture not someone rocking a “Meh” mindset. This interview needs you, Bruh. Don’t just show up for a bottled water and a tour of the facility.
STAY HUNGRY, MY FRIEND
Yes, it is great to interview when you do not NEED the gig but how do you shift into hunger mode? Here are 5 things to get you closer to hungry:
- PRE-PREP: Take a minute to reflect when you were hungry and wanted/needed to make a job change.
- PREP: Think interesting professional conversation, not interview. Develop better questions to ask to make interviewers think.
- INTERVIEWING: Remember THEIR issues are more important than YOUR wish list (at this point). Engaged posture, please.
- QUESTIONS: Focus questions on the job, the first 90 days to 6 months, the culture, the department, the boss’s management style and vision.
- ANSWERS: You know the most valuable answer is always “I have done that before.” Share those examples with brevity.
You know this whole interview process thing is a game, right? Play It Well. Leverage your passive status to be more You and less you trying to get this job – because you can be. Maybe they don’t judge you the same way as active folks but they still judge. Their judgments center around unasked questions like, “Is this guy really interested?” and “Am I wasting my time here?” and “I wonder if he really wants to make a change?” If you don’t play, they default to the negative answers to those questions. Don’t even let them go there.
You can be a passive candidate and an active interviewer. Engage and play well today, Mr. Curious Interesting Conversational With Brevity and Damn Near Enthusiastic.