You may feel desperate. In fact, you may very well be desperate. But blurt out, "I'll take anything!" at a job interview, and you may blow your chances of being offered a job.
"I've seen a lot of desperate people and they are very scary," says Cathy Fyock, director of recruiting for consultant Resources Global Professionals, headquartered in Irvine, Calif. "When an interviewer hears those three words, it's a total red flag. It's the worst thing an applicant can say because it implies that anything will do for the time being - and that they'll be looking for what they really need in the meantime."
It's All About Them
Keep in mind that the employer is looking out for the company's best interest - not yours. "A job interview requires that you put your feet in the shoes of the HR person," says Sandy Allgeier, a former corporate HR executive and author of The Personal Credibility Factor. "The HR person who is interviewing you is interested in meeting the company's needs. Your job is to demonstrate that you've done some advance thinking about what they need, and how you can help them."
That calls for preparation. "An employer wants to hire a discerning employee - someone with the skills and passion for the job, someone who has taken the time to research the company," says Fyock, who is also the author of five books, including The Truth About Hiring the Best. "You should know a lot about the company and the position. That's what makes you a strong applicant."
Play It Cool
You'll also likely score points by playing it cool. "I think there can be a fine line between enthusiastic and over-enthusiastic. A candidate who is a little too excited would make me a bit nervous about offering them a position," says Doug Gerlach, the vice president of strategic business development for BetterInvesting, an investment education organization headquartered in Madison Heights, Mich. "In fact, I think that sometimes it's better for candidates to play it a bit cool during and after an interview."
That's a piece of advice best used in moderation. "I'm not suggesting that people who are looking for a job should be unprofessional," Gerlach says. "If you don't reply to my phone calls, messages, or e-mails promptly, then you'll be moved down in the list for sure."
The bottom line? "Be confident, not desperate," says Steve Angel, chief executive of the Angel Group, LLC, a Louisville, Ky., executive search firm. "Interview to sell yourself and your skill set, and they'll remember you. Even if you don't get the job, they may invite you back at a later time for the position you really are suited for."
Amy Rauch Neilson is a business writer based in Belleville, Mich.