How to express passion

Job applicants are told by selection panel members and recruitment companies to ‘show passion’ at an interview. What do they mean by this and how do you do it? Are you supposed to turn into an evangelising zealot?

What this advice is about is giving interviewers some sense that you are keen on the job and on the organisation. That there is some spark to the person. That they are capable of showing enthusiasm without being manic about it. A person who shows no zest, no spark, no sense of being moved by an idea, is not an appealing proposition.

Why not? Because it implies that your interests lie elsewhere. You are going through the motions of the interview without genuine interest. That you won’t be motivated to go the extra mile, or even the required miles. An interested person conveys a sense that they wish to be part of the action, will take steps to join in and contribute.

So how do you convey passion? There are several behaviours that can signal your keenness.

Non-verbal behaviour
  • Sit upright rather than slouched.
  • Lean slightly forward towards the interviewer.
  • Make eye contact where appropriate.
  • Look interested.
Vocal behaviour
  • Vary your voice in pitch, volume, pace. Avoid a monotone, speaking too fast or too slow, high pitched or shrill voice.
  • Articulate clearly. Avoid slurring or mumbling.
  • Speak so you can be heard.
Behaviour
  • Walk tall.
  • Greet the interviewer by name, shake hands, look at their face, smile.
Responses

You could be asked about something you are passionate about. If you are genuinely passionate about a topic or activity, say so. If you think that might sound a bit false, refer to something that is important to you, or something you strongly believe in. This could be a value, or preferred behaviour, a cause.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist® specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.