Eager To Please at Job Interview?

06/17/2010 11:24 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Liz Ryan Speaker, writer, soprano and mom; founder, Human Workplace

Dear Liz,

I've been on six job interviews during the eleven months since I got laid off. Four of them were first interviews and the other two were second interviews, no job offers yet. I may not be sending out enough resumes, how many is enough? On the interviews I try hard to please the interviewer with the right answers and the right attitude. I don't know how I would please them more. What are the best ways to let the interviewer know how badly I want the job?



Dear Selena,

Without knowing how many resumes you've sent out, you are not doing badly at
all, and I'd love for you to give yourself a big pat on the back. Two second
interviews on four first interviews is a fantastic batting average! It sounds as
though you've had these praiseworthy results using the old-fashioned Black Hole
job-search method. That approach is a big hindrance, so you should feel terrific
about your background. As you get more familiar with our job-search approach as
a member of this group, I predict that your results will get much better. Hurrah
for you, Selena!

One of the big shifts that we teach job-seekers here is that we don't go to an
interview to please the interviewer. The more we grovel and plead and aim to
please, the less impressive we become. Employers don't hire people who need jobs
more badly than other people. They hire the folks they believe can help them the

We're going to try hard to shift your thinking away from "I must please these
people" toward "I think I know what these people need to be successful, and I'm
going to let them know that I understand their needs and have the right stuff."
That's a big change in direction, I know. The good news is that it works! When
we show up to an interview in our power, we are confident, conversational flows
more easily and we don't have to convince anyone of anything.

My suggested resume-count for a full-time job seeker is ten resumes out the
door, per business day. In each case, you're sending the resume with a pithy
Pain Letter to the decision-maker for the hire (not via the dreadful Black
Hole). That's only two resumes-plus-pain-letters per day - would that be a
reasonable goal for you, Selena?