25. Being Desperate is a Turnoff with Employers

I’ve always gravitated towards candidates who show high confidence, pushing towards arrogance, thus why the classroom scene in Top Gun (1986 film) resonates with me.

Viper (Tom Skerritt): “Do you think your name will be on that plaque?”

Maverick (Tom Cruise): “Yes, sir.”

Viper: “That’s pretty arrogant, considering the company you’re in.”

Maverick: “Yes, sir.”

Viper: “I like that in a pilot.”

Job seekers aren’t doing themselves any favours when they come across as desperate, which I often see and sense. They’re aching to be in any employer/employee relationship as long as the employer passes basic muster. (Basic muster being defined as an employer willing to hire them.)

Regardless of the type of relationship you’re looking to form (friendship, romantic, business, employer/employee), desperation is unattractive.

When it comes to job hunting, you can’t be in a mindset of desperation when going after the job you want. People sense desperation. Neediness and lack of confident eye contact are considerable distinctions. A confident person is attractive and therefore memorable. A desperate person not only shows they’re lacking confidence, they’re also off-putting. 

Having literally conducted 1,000s of interviews, I can sense a candidate’s desperation—that they just want any job—which never sits well with me. 

While easier said than done, you need to empower yourself as a candidate, which in turn will boost your confidence. Empowerment is achieved by positioning yourself as a solutions provider (READ: problem-solver), which is contrary to being just another job seeker. Think of the difference between “I need the job you’re offering.” and “I want to help you.” Which is more attractive?

The distinction is powerful. It’ll be noticeable to the hiring manager. The average job seeker goes into an interview simply looking to fill an open position to collect a paycheck. Conversely, a solutions provider approaches an interview as a fact-finding mission to determine how their skills and experience align with the problem(s) the hiring manager is trying to solve. 

What problem(s) Nick?

The problem(s) the job exists to solve.

For example, sales positions exist to solve the employer’s problem of creating and maintaining revenue flow. Accounting positions exist to solve the employer’s problem of managing the money coming in, making sure government taxes are paid and minimizing financial waste.

The next time you read a job posting, ask yourself:

  • What’s the main objective(s) of the job? 
  • What tasks of the job have the most impact on the company?
  • What suggestions can I offer that’ll improve the role itself? 
  • What is the employer’s most significant challenges currently? (This’ll require research on your part.)
  • How can you, in the role, address those challenges?

Having answers to these questions changes the dynamics of the interview. Now you’re approaching the interview as a problem-solver, which creates more of a consultative conversation and puts you in control.

Candidate: “Nile, from what you’ve told me and what I’ve read online, Vandelay Industries has been trying to break into the eastern Canada market for quite some time. I know Cyberdyne Systems is giving you stiff competition—your market share growth hasn’t been as robust as you’d like.”

Interviewer: “Yes, Cyberdyne Systems is a formidable competitor, which is why we’re looking for a new business development manager to oversee the Atlantic provinces.”

Candidate: “I faced a similar situation when I was with Wayne Enterprises. My advice isn’t to go head-to-head with Cyberdyne Systems comparing prices, which your marketing material does. Based on my experience, my discussions with potential clients would revolve around Vandelay Industries being Canadian and nimble—not a foreign oversize bureaucratic organization they have to navigate. Have you ever thought of being more forthcoming about Vandelay Industries’ history, being founded in 1908 in Waterloo? Vandelay is a rare Canadian success story which you should tell more aggressively; it would build confidence in the market.”

Imagine how this conversation continues. Who’ll be in the driver’s seat? The candidate isn’t looking to simply “take a paycheck” from the company; they’re looking to be an employee looking after the company’s best interest.

Holistically a job interview boils down to you asking for a chance. Therefore, the candidate who projects the confidence they can solve the problem(s) the role exists to solve will most likely be given a chance.

Approaching your interviews with confidence and as a problem-solver will tip the scale in your favour—being desperate will do the opposite.