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This post was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I have several medical conditions that make me generally a low-energy person. However, my attendance is never an issue, and I’m pretty smart and an excellent worker and employee. Previous managers have raved about me. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I’m a pretty awesome employee.

I applied for an internal position that I’m qualified for. The posting says they’re looking for a “motivated, energetic, self-starter who can make immediate contribution to the team.”

What does “energetic” mean in this context?

I feel I’m motivated and a self-starter, but physically I am not energetic, nor will I ever be. I’m just physically not able to be and yes that probably comes across in zoom meetings and such. I’m always friendly and professional, just not “energetic” as I think it means.

I will probably get an interview because it’s an internal role, so I need to know how to address that. Just bring up projects I’ve initiated to better my teams? Talk about projects I’ve completed before their due dates? I’m not sure how to convey how I’d be a great pick if they’re looking for someone to be outgoing and “energetic.”

Much of the time, “energetic” in this context doesn’t mean a rah-rah / bubbly / outgoing / physical energy type person. It means things like: you see work that needs to be done and you do it, you initiate useful new projects, you have a sense of urgency when it’s needed, and you approach work with a can-do spirit (when realistic) rather than always looking for reasons something won’t work.

The way you’d convey those things in an interview is to talk about times when you’ve approached work that way — think back through your work accomplishments for examples that illustrate those traits and work them in as you’re discussing the job and what you’d bring to it.

And of course, if your interviewer is looking for a super rah-rah type, it’s smarter not to try to appear that way if you’re not. You want the hiring manager to understand who they’re hiring so that there aren’t surprises once you’re on the job … and so you don’t end up in a job that wants you to be someone you’re not or where you won’t thrive. Show them what you would bring to the role so that you can both figure out whether it’s the right fit or not.