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Recently, I have been rejected from a few a jobs because I did not show the appropriate amount of "passion" or "energy levels" during the interviews. When I asked for feedback, I usually got some actionable feedback, but also comments I found vague and subjective:

  • A startup said that they "felt that the energy levels we experienced with others was higher and fit better with our style."
  • A video game company said that the two top candidates "were very passionate about a particular tech or about games."

I'm wondering: are these to do with cultural fit or are these comments on communication style (e.g. I'm too matter-of-fact or monotone or whatever)? I'm leaning towards communication style, as I have gotten feedback in the past that my verbal communication could be improved.

The more important question: are there any tangible and actionable things I can do to communicate the appropriate amount of "passion" or "energy levels"? Or are these too subjective and/or vague?

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  • Can you give us some examples of the interviewer's questions and your corresponding answers ? If we may have your practical examples in real interviews, we will be able provide realistic and more helpful inputs. Feb 4, 2022 at 0:22
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    What is your ideal employer? What is your ideal job? May be if you take a more targeted approach, you won't need to fake your enthusiasm. Feb 4, 2022 at 7:58
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    I think it's likely that the people telling you that you don't have enough passion or energy are trying to find employees with a "live to work" attitude that will put in 80 hour weeks gladly (until they inevitably burn out). If you really do love the idea of working for a start up or a computer game company (do yourself a favour and research that industry if you don't already have knowledge of it) finding out how to show more passion and energy is useful. If you want to "work to live" not the other way around it might be in your best interest not to get hired by these people.
    – Eric Nolan
    Feb 4, 2022 at 10:35
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    I agree with @EricNolan -- the first thing I thought of was they were looking for people that would not object to having their entire life be solely about their job and nothing else. That's fine if you're building your own business (or maybe apprenticing so you can achieve some future success). I don't think it's very smart to do it for someone else's business.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 4, 2022 at 17:04
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    @Job_September_2020 For the game company, the interview was mainly technical (e.g. what's the difference between TCP & UDP? What's IaaS?). But I think one question was "What technologies do you like working with?" and maybe I wasn't excited by any particular technology? The startup generally asked me about my background.
    – zmike
    Feb 4, 2022 at 17:45

1 Answer 1

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The more important question: are there any tangible and actionable things I can do to communicate the appropriate amount of "passion" or "energy levels"?

I like to learn enough about my prospective employers and their products before interviewing. That way I could ask good questions and discuss what I liked. That always helped me show a high level of interest/passion/energy.

If someone in my professional network worked there, or knows the company well, that is often a source of good discussion points and energy.

Otherwise, an interesting domain, or a great startup opportunity can usually help get your energy level up.

If you have energy, but your communication style isn't projecting that, you can practice mock interviews with a trusted friend.

Or are these too subjective and/or vague?

By definition, they are subjective.

But if you try hard enough, you can talk about the company and products with energy.

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    Knowing their product (which I will be writing software for) got me my next job. Plus knowing how their technology worked. That was 20 minutes google plus 1 hour watching a video. And energy seems quite important. I’ve got an offer out of most interviews, except when I wasn’t quite convinced about the job, I tried just as hard without any success ever.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 4, 2022 at 6:15

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