Phil Gerbyshak at Slacker Manager got me thinking a little more about passion and work from a practical standpoint.
Passion is one of those words that (for me) is used so much it doesn't have a lot of punch anymore. In my mind, it's begun to sink into the realm of business jargon. Not because it isn't a desirable thing, but because people toss it out in just the right place during a meeting but without any--well, passion.
Whenever there's an absence of affect with a word that commands it, I become suspicious of the speaker.
Not so with Phil. His writings always unleash a plethora of passion.
He suggested that interviewers should ask job candidates what they are passionate about. Then, "see how excited they get regardless of whether they are talking about stray dogs, cooking, or customer service".
How Do You Make The Real Connection Between Passion and the Job?
Michael Haberman weighed in with an excellent point. He noted that a candidate's passion for coin collecting or American Idol presents a problem when trying to figure out if that will make them a great employee or a water-cooler champion of pop culture.
I thought about the interviews and assessments that I do for clients. Here are some practical ways to think about and approach the issue of passion:
1. Simply finding out if someone can "get passionate" about a topic is telling. Anyone who doesn't show affect about something may have some issues of the heart. In the past year I've watched two high level executives be asked to leave their jobs not because of expertise but a lack of emotional intelligence. Their superior cognitive intelligence simply couldn't overcome their inability to connect with people in meaningful ways.
2. When someone does reveal a personal passion, ask the question, "How would you see that kind of excitement carrying over into your work?"
This is a useful way to find out if the individual can see the practical application of the passion as well as connect the dots for you. You might find out that the connection is less of a mystery than meets the eye.
Note of caution: For those who bring a more intellectual approach to life, suddenly asking them to name their passion can be off-putting. Instead, try asking about what "captures their interest" or where they "like to get involved". The language itself can help both parties get where they need to be in the interview.
What's your experience with interviewing and "passion?"
Photo source: Sphere