Job searching can feel like a job in and of itself sometimes. Between countless hours spent scrolling through job listings, perfecting your LinkedIn summary and drafting cover letters, it takes no shortage of effort just to secure the interview. And once you do make it to that first round, a hiring manager's decision ultimately rests just as much on what you say as it does on your skills.
But what you don't say in the interview matters, too. Surprisingly enough, between reciting strengths and weaknesses and phrasing salary expectations in a palatable way, many people are forgetting to say four words that can actually make or break their odds. They are: “I want this job.”
But why do these four little words matter so much?
It's important to explicitly say that you want the job in order to appeal to the hiring manager, not only because it makes for a nice doorway into answering interview heavy hitters like “Why do you want to work here?" These four words also leave little doubt in the interviewer's mind as to your enthusiasm for the role. And the last thing you want is for the hiring manager to be asking themselves after the interview: "Do they really even want to work here?"
Additionally, when a candidate is proactive about reiterating that they want the job they're interviewing for, it also “helps the interview become more efficient and productive,” said HR professional Cristian Rennella. And that makes sense. If you can successfully articulate both that you want the job and really sell the reasons why, then you’re one step closer to hopefully securing a job offer. Keep in mind, though, that it’s all about balance.
“There's nothing worse than having negative people on your team, so when recruiting, most people are looking for signs of enthusiasm and positivity,” said Fiona Adler, hiring manager and creator of the Actioned App. However, it's also true that “you don't want to sound desperate for the job, but you do want to let it be known that this job is a great fit for you and you'd be delighted to be offered the role."
What keeps more job candidates from saying these four words? It's often a fear of sounding too eager.
"From my personal experience, one of the top reasons candidates don't move to the next round in an interview (other than cultural fit or rambling) is that they can't close the interview,” said Sarah Johnston, a former hiring manager and current job search coach.
You shouldn't fear sounding eager. You should fear sounding eager for the wrong reasons, though, explained Henry Goldbeck, President of Goldbeck Recruiting — namely, wanting the job simply because you want to be employed or are after the salary. The key is in "not just saying 'I want this job,'" Goldbeck said, but in "being enthusiastic, confident and informed about the job and what you will be able to accomplish.”
This means being able to explain why you want the job and how exactly you plan to contribute to the company, too. Be in the know about a company's mission, current and past initiatives, and its competitors. The balance you should aim to strike is in sounding enthusiastic, prepared and informed.
It should be noted: you do actually have to want the job in order to give a compelling and authentic interview. So be sure that the job is truly a fit before you say those four words. If it is a fit, your authenticity and transparency in stating your enthusiasm for the role — paired with your research before the interview and your strategic reasons for wanting the job — should get you far.