When work has been thin and an opportunity for business arises it’s very easy to step over the line that separates enthusiasm and desperation. How can you make sure you hold back? Here are some thoughts.
Enthusiasm or nonchalance?
The single most important factor in deciding whether a person should be given a consulting or interim assignment is competence.
The second most important factor is whether they get on well with the person interviewing them.
If you act naturally rather than over-enthusiastically there’s every likelihood that you’ll do well. If you are over enthusiastic or over-nonchalant there’s every likelihood that you’ll appear inauthentic and that’s where you’ll fall down.
Does this mean don’t show enthusiasm?
No! It means if you are not enthusiastic don’t fake it.
A good way of getting them to like you is to demonstrate shared values and interests. If you show an interest in their organisation and the project or task they’re more likely to like you than if not.
If you can’t do that then you are probably just going through the motions and unless you are way ahead of the rest in terms of ability, or the organisation admires cold and unemotional people because they think they need a mean hatchet man, you are probably not going to win the assignment
But doesn’t this mean I might look a bit too keen?
Only you can decide what is too much. I’m not suggesting you gush. I’m just saying you need to put them at their ease, and they way you do that is by getting them to like you, and the way you do that is by being a likeable person, and the way you do that is by showing interest, amongst other things.
Should I tell them that I’m interested in the job because it will give me the opportunity to develop new skills?
I wouldn’t recommend this for an interim or consulting assignment. If they want someone to grow into the job and are willing to risk them making mistakes they’ll take on a permanent member of staff or promote someone. As a consultant they need to be assured that you made the errors elsewhere and that you’ve done pretty much exactly this before. By all means tell them you enjoy these type of assignments because you have a successful track record with them, but don’t tell them you want it because you’ve not had the chance to do it before.
OK, I hear all that, but the truth is I haven’t worked for several months and I AM desperate.
Just remember, they almost certainly won’t be worried if you’ve been out of work for a while. There could be any number of reasons for that. They will worry if you show that it bothers you rather than if you give the impression that it is not a problem. If they sniff anxiety they’ll run a mile because they want someone who is mature and calm.
And how am I supposed to appear cool and calm when I’m not?
I’ll be running my popular workshop Winning Interim and Consulting Assignments on March 28th in London. Details here: