You create your job search universe

In the world of the “law of attraction” like attracts like.  Wherever you place your energy, the universe will respond in kind.

Therefore, the more positive you are, the more you will attract those things that you want into your life. The more negative you are, the more you will attract what you are trying to avoid.

This philosophy extends into a job search particularly during the interview process.

If you approach interviews with a positive mindset, you will increase your chances of attracting more interviews and landing your target job.

If you start your job search off feeling frustrated, jaded, angry, sad, (enter negative emotion here) you are way more likely to attract nothing or blow what could have been a great interview.

It’s not rocket science – when you’re genuinely feeling positive and hopeful, you will feel more confident and exude a positive vibe during interviews. This can even make up for a lack of experience or skill set because a candidate’s soft skills and attitude can be equally as important as hard skills.

What a positive candidate looks like

You use decisive and confident language like  “I can”, “I will”, “I know”. 

You smile, have a firm handshake, and use appropriate eye contact (i.e. look at people but don’t stare!)

You communicate where you have identified and seized opportunities or crawled through glass and come out the other side despite seemingly insurmountable challenges.

You clearly express your contributions that offer evidence of your undeniable value but aren’t boastful.

You quickly take ownership of where you made  mistakes and how you learned from them.

You answer questions enthusiastically and provide some detail without going overboard or heading off on a tangent.

Basically, you are someone who can turn lemons into lemonade!  (I know that’s cheesy, but I’m tired and it’s the only thing I could come up with. Lol.)

You can’t really “teach” someone a positive attitude – you either have it or you don’t.

While everyone can have a bad day, week, or month people who are inherently positive don’t let most things get them down and are able to see bad stuff for what it really is – opportunities in disguise.

You can, however, teach someone a hard skill. As I hinted earlier, the employer might overlook a candidate’s lack of experience and hire them for their infectious positive, lemonade-making attitude.

Attitude matters!

You can be the best-match candidate and not get past the first interview because you were perceived as being “negative” which might also be labeled as “difficult”, “evasive”, “challenging”, “arrogant”, or “closed-off”.

While the descriptors might be different, the general consensus is that you gave off an underlying “edge” that often the employer can’t put their finger on.   

At the end of the day, it’s all about the kind of energy you exude and how it’s being perceived at the other end.

What a negative candidate looks like

You are someone who sees the glass half empty. You will say things like “I’ll try”, “I guess”, “I’m not sure”.

You don’t smile, make eye contact, and your handshake is limp.

You have difficulty coming up with examples of where you identified and seized opportunities or overcame difficult situations with integrity.

You tend to see challenges as problems to be immediately erased and forgotten and not opportunities for growth.

You are not enthusiastic in your tone and might not be able to clearly express where you contributed value.

You might be too boastful and take all the credit for accomplishments and ignore the obvious fact that you were part of a team.

You don’t take ownership of where you made a mistake but prefer to place blame on individuals or situations and clearly haven’t learned from it.

You answer questions abruptly and don’t offer any details which forces the interviewer to ask additional questions to extract the information.

Negativity isn’t totally obvious

People who are negative don’t necessarily look a certain way or have three heads so it can sometimes be hard to detect.

A negative attitude can often be subtle and as I mentioned before.  It’s an underlying energy that percolates when  someone speaks, what they say, and their body language that is perceived in a negative way.

Real life example

Here’s an example of a candidate I was trying to place with one of my key clients. The company had been looking to fill a job that had been vacated for close to a year.

I came up with someone who I felt was the perfect match in terms of experience, skills, education, professional development, location, salary, etc. Everything seemed to line up. “John” was the “perfect fit”.

Or so I thought.

It was during our first phone conversation when I detected a potential “problem”.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It wasn’t that obvious. He was generally communicative and not overtly rude or aggressive, but I sensed a subtle negative energy beneath the surface – an “angst” if you will.

To make a very long story short, I found out that he had suffered a great deal of stress due to his last job (negative culture according to him), his job loss (somewhat self inflicted), his personal life (ugly divorce), his job search (not many prospects despite his outstanding career progression), his age (well over 50), his mental state (not positive), and some other things but that will give you the general idea.

His situation made him super frustrated and justifiably so. I felt for him. The problem was, all these stresses – many which he never fully addressed – created a negative attitude that culminated into a downward spiral. It was like watching a train wreck.

I coached him and addressed the whole attitude thing and advised that he approach his job search with a fresh perspective and go into my client’s interviews in a positive way, yadda, yadda, yadda…..

I admit I made a big mistake

In my genuine desire to help my candidate get the job and help my client fill the position, I was blinded to a very obvious fact.

John was NOT ready to start a new job, much less interview. In fact, he shouldn’t have started a job search at all.

What I should have told the guy was this:

“John, as much as I want to help you, you are not ready to interview. I highly recommend that you address your outstanding issues and get help to cultivate a positive mind set otherwise you are going to continue not passing the interviews or not getting the interview at all. It’s not going to help your overall job search to continue the way you have been.”

Here’s what happened to John

He passed the first interview.

He passed the second interview.

It was the third and most important interview with the VP that he completely blew.  Apparently, he said something like “I already answered that question at the last two interviews”.

Ouch.

Despite demonstrating that he obviously knew his stuff, he made the deadly error of showing he was too easily irritated by something so small.  This isn’t good especially when you’re in a challenging leadership position in a high volume, fast-paced work environment.

It also made him look – well –  stupid. Someone in his position who’s interviewed people should know that candidates are purposely put into situations to test how they will react. In this case, his reaction made him look “difficult”. He didn’t display good interview etiquette.

There were a couple of other little “red flags” that the first and second interviewers mentioned but they weren’t deal breakers. It was that one comment at the end which was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Moral of the story

You owe it to yourself to get into a positive mindset before you decide to pursue a job search. Don’t think that you can will your way thorough interviews.

The challenges and frustrations of the job search and interview process can push your buttons and all kinds of negative stuff can come up. Better to deal with those first.

Do what ever you have to do to get to your happy place. It could be yoga classes, doing meditation, going to therapy – whatever works for you. I actually wrote an article about how to handle job loss stress which will give you some insight into this.

And for the love of everything holy, when you are asked a bunch of the same irritating interview questions (because they can be irritating), just take a deep breath, smile, and answer the question for the 3rd time with a perfect blend of humility, confidence, and enthusiasm.

You’ve got this!


I highly recommend you retain the services of a career professional to help you through the job search and interview process.  One wrong move can get you disqualified from the running. Feel free to contact me here.


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Hi!  I’m Diana.

I leverage over 10 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired. You can learn more about my story here and about how I can help you here.

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