Job Interview Strategies: Turning Desperation Into Confidence

This post was last updated on April 21st, 2018 at 04:14 pm

More times than I wish to remember, I have scoured through resume after resume in search of good candidates for a job. Once I had my list, and did my due diligence on each of them, I would strive to find at least 10 solid candidates to contact. And once I did, I went to the next step – the telephone screenings.

I would start calling these candidates, one by one, with hopes to find the ‘ideal candidate’. One of the first questions I would typically ask is, “what was it about this job that was of interest to you?” Sometimes I unfortunately get this response, “I have been out of work for 8 months. At this point, I’ll take anything”.  Really? That is why you want to work here?

The candidate likely did a whole lot of work to get noticed and then was sadly ousted in the first 5 minutes of the process. And that is just one example of so many other ways candidates seem to express the same idea; they don’t really want this job, they just need a job.

To be a job seeker and to have made it into that list of 10 is a pretty big deal considering the competition! But the facts are, as much as I truly sympathize (and it really is very hard to hear that desperation), job seekers must understand that part of running a business is to find the right employees. The right employees are not people who just need ‘a job’.  Despite the tough economic times, the right employee is an individual who wants to work at that specific company and plans to stick around for a long time.

It’s a well-known fact that many of today’s unemployed job seekers are having a difficult time landing a new position. The job search process can take months or even years if it’s not executed properly. If a job seeker really prepares for the job search and makes every effort to stand out online and with their cover letter and resume, the likelihood of securing a job interview significantly increases.  Once that happens, it is critical to take your strong brand that got you the interview and bring it to the interview.


Stating “I’ll take anything at this point” is a pretty bold statement.  But here are some ways candidates say the same thing without using those words:

Q:  I noticed you were working part time in your last position. Are you looking for full time work now?
A:  Ideally, I prefer to work part time but there just aren’t many part time jobs out there so I am looking at full time jobs as well.

Q:  It appears your last job was higher level and that you were a supervisor. This job is not a supervisory position.  Would this feel like you are taking a step down from your previous position?
A: I prefer to have a supervisory position but I can’t really be picky at this point.

Q: This job will pay less than your last position. What are your thoughts on that?
A:   Well, It’s better than what I am getting paid now!

These types of responses tell me that the job is not ideal for the candidate. It says that the candidate needs money and will do it for the time being.  If hired, he will likely continue to look for a job until he finds the one that he really wants. Unfortunately, employers just are not interested in hiring short-term employees.  The cost of turnover is simply too pricey.

What are the better ways to answer those questions? These types of questions must be answered in a way that shows your interest in the company. An appropriate answer might be, “yes, this job is (full time, less responsibilities, less pay, etc) but I have done quite a bit of research on the company and I am more than willing to make this change because I really want to be a part of the team and I feel I could make significant and immediate contributions”.

Self-confident and direct answers are the way to go. The example Q&A’s from earlier illustrated the mentality of a job seeker who doesn’t believe he can attain a job with his key desired attributes. So, choose self-confidence! Even if the job market is so crappy that it’s likely you will have a take a job with a pay cut, the employer needs to know that it’s what you want (in exchange for the experience).

I know that a long job search that doesn’t yield a job can be very difficult for many people and really takes a toll on self-esteem.  This is perfectly normal and is understandably compounded by the stress of financial situation. The longer one goes without a job, the more people tend to personalize it and then the lack of confidence or desperation starts spilling out in the job interview.

If you are a job seeker who is finding yourself feeling less confident and more desperate, I think it’s critical that you take some time to really work on changing your thought patterns.  Even if you don’t say anything similar to the examples above, a lack of confidence does tend to show through in your general overall demeanor during an interview.

The great thing about the human brain is that we do not have to accept the thoughts that randomly come into our heads.  You can choose to dismiss them and replace them with more encouraging and self-esteem boosting thoughts.   Instead of walking around thinking, “I’ll never get a job, I don’t have the right experience, I am too young or too old and not good enough”, immediately dismiss that and force yourself to think “I will get a job, I have great skills and am a great person and would be a great addition to any team, I just have to keep working at it every day and the right job will find me!”

Your thoughts can create your destiny. Negative thoughts are far more likely create negative results and positive thoughts are far more likely to create positive results.  If you want to get a job, always remember, “thoughts become things” and believing in yourself and your skills is key to your success!

Jessica Simko is a seasoned senior level Human Resources professional with over 15 years of experience in all facets of Human Resources Management. She is a Career Coach and Consultant specializing in helping all levels of career professionals create, build, and maintain a strong career brand in the corporate work culture. She strives to help people connect their passions with their jobs and then to leverage their brand to maximize their potential throughout their careers. She offers a wide variety of career branding articles and tips at Career Branding Guide where she also offers coaching and consulting services based on the Career Branding Guide model. Feel free to connect with her on:

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