Written by Sabina Nawaz
Alex had an impressive résumé. He had excellent grades in school, a string of technical projects that won recognition, and concrete results from his first two jobs. Yet when he interviewed at a new high-tech startup, the company turned him down. Luckily for Alex, he learned the reason for his rejection from an unofficial source — a colleague who didn’t agree with the decision. It turned out that the interviewers thought Alex lacked passion. He was quiet, didn’t specify how he contributed to the projects on his résumé, and didn’t display the effusiveness they were used to seeing in strong candidates.
Alex had grown up in Hong Kong, where he had been taught to downplay accomplishments and lead with results. Unfortunately, the company where he was interviewing was in the U.S. The interviewers had a blind spot: they believed that passionate candidates would speak loudly and at length about their achievements. Alex needed to figure out how to communicate excitement and commitment in interviews without fundamentally changing his personality or culturally ingrained mannerisms.
Demonstrating passion is not the only predictor of a great job candidate, however hiring managers reference this trait repeatedly in their interview feedback. To succeed in your next job interview, you need to figure out how to convey what matters most to you. Here’s how.
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