Your technical skills and hands-on experience may get you an interview, but it’s your passion that will get you a job.
In fact, exhibiting a voracious thirst for knowledge and curiosity for all things tech is so important, that nearly every hiring manager you meet with will measure your enthusiasm.
“Passion is a must-have trait,” explained Dr. Asaf Darash, founder and CEO of Regpack, a developer of automated registration tools. “It’s what drives someone to find the underlying causes of problems or to build applications that people actually want to use.”
Although conveying emotions can be difficult, especially for technically-minded or laid-back professionals, it gets easier with practice. To help you get started, here are some surefire ways to demonstrate your passion for technology during interviews.
Lead with Your Heart, Not Just Your head
Most interviewers will evaluate your body language and the words and phrases you use to describe previous projects to see if you take pride in your work or feel compelled to go above and beyond what’s expected.
To effectively communicate both verbally and non-verbally, prepare a few stories that illustrate times when you did outstanding work or developed a solution that required you to learn something new.
Then use positive body language, classic storytelling techniques and positive vocabulary to convey not only the facts, but some subtlety of feeling in how you approached a challenge and delivered results. It’s natural to get more animated when you talk about your passions.
As Darash pointed out: “Even a shy person will light up when they describe a time that they triumphed over a difficult problem.”
Give a Detailed Account
A passionate profession will give more insight and detail into the projects they’ve worked on, said Tony Parish, managing director of Ignite Digital Talent. For instance, a technically proficient candidate will tell you how they debugged the code or used tools to solve programming problems, while a passionate coder will explain their approach, interactions and their reasons for selecting a specific solution.
And while we don’t recommend that you go on and on, most tech pros have a tendency to be long-winded when they’re talking about a subject that makes them feel passionate and persuasive. It is not necessarily a bad thing that an interviewer may occasionally need to interrupt.
Engage the Interviewer
Instead of regurgitating stock answers to technical questions, involve the interviewer in a two-way conversation by asking for additional details or showcasing your scrum expertise by sketching and diagramming your solution on a white board or writing tablet.
Using an interactive approach not only displays passion, it gives the hiring manager a preview of your working relationship as you exchange ideas and participate in a collaborative, problem-solving process.
Don’t Give Up
Darash admits that he sometimes throws complex, unsolvable problems at candidates just to see how they react. The temptation is too great for an inquisitive coder to resist. The true fanatic becomes intrigued, asks questions and feels compelled to find an answer, while the dispassionate coder gives it a shot and throws in the towel.
“The passionate coder will keep trying and will continue bouncing ideas off of you as they search for a solution,” Darash explained.
The bottom line is don’t give up too easily or lose confidence if you don’t know the answer to a brain teaser or coding challenge. The interviewer wants to see how you’ll react when you encounter difficult problems or stressful situations on the job.
Take “IT” Outside
A great indicator of just how passionate someone is for technology is the amount of personal time invested in its pursuit noted Andrew Reed, an interview coach with Anson Reed, who responded to our questions via email.
Give the interviewer a guided tour of your side projects, coding samples on GitHub or open source contributions. In your interview, talk about the tech magazines you subscribe to, the websites and blogs you visit and the certifications you’re pursuing. This will not only show your determination to stay abreast of new technologies but your willingness to self-develop.
After all, a truly passionate professional wants to learn everything they can, and no matter how busy you are, you’ll always find the time to expand your technical knowledge.