Study: Why most employers will choose one equally qualified candidate over another

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking. You know that you are being judged on your behaviour and abilities by a stranger. And there is a lot riding on the outcome of a brief meeting. So, most of us come up with strategies for appearing calm, collected and confident in order to put our best foot forward.

Too much of that can actually be hurting your chances of getting hired. A new study out of Stanford University has found that people who appear calm and collected during a job interview may at a disadvantage. Their research found that employers are significantly more likely to favour candidates who are excited.

Researchers showed hundreds of employers video applications from three candidates who all had the same level of qualifications. One candidate was animated and excited, another was calm and a third appeared neutral.

Nearly half of the participants (47 per cent) favoured the excited applicant, whereas roughly 23 per cent liked the calm candidate, and about 29 per cent said they would hire the neutral one.

It’s a fine line. You want to convey that you are confident in your abilities to do the job, but at the same time, you are emotionally invested in getting hired.

The candidates who land a job interview are the most qualified from all the people who applied, based on their resumes. So, hiring managers have the cream of the crop to choose from when they conduct interviews. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Would you rather offer the job the person who is calm and neutral or to the one who shows that they are enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity? Which one seems like they will work harder and be more engaged on the job?

Motivation matters. Qualifications being equal, hiring managers would be most likely to hire the candidate who showed the greatest enthusiasm for the role.

How can you do this? Be sincere. Tell your interviewer that you really want the job. This shows you are confident enough to ask for it, but modest enough to not just assume that you are going to get it.

Employers prefer candidates who are passionate about working for them and about the opportunity they are offering. Show them that you are genuinely excited about the position. You’ll stand apart from candidates who seem overly formal or too calm and collected.

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