Interview tip: you can’t fake passion

Posted by | September 5, 2014 | Find your mission, Job interviews

you can't fake passion blog header

Long ago I applied for a job involving child care. Beyond quoting Whitney Houston – ‘I believe that children are our future’, I had nothing much to say. My CV showed zero contact or interest with kids – no volunteer work, no sports coaching, no teaching, not even a stint of babysitting. If my referees had ever been contacted, they probably would have laughed me right out of contention. I didn’t have passion for the role. Needless to say, I did not get the job.

So what are employers looking for?

Employers like to see passion in potential staff. Not the hot and steamy kind of passion, but people with intense, compelling enthusiasm for their work, people, causes or things. When translated into the right kind of work and workplace, passionate workers are dedicated, enthusiastic and have positive influence on workmates. And who doesn’t want to work in that kind of environment.

If you are passionate you will be able to hold a conversation on the topic or topics close to your heart. You will be able to show examples in your CV and provide anecdotes from your personal life. If you say you have a passion for accuracy and getting things right first time, then this is likely to be reflected in your CV, how you present yourself, your work history, your interests and hobbies and what your referees will say about you. There will be a match between what you say and what you do.

It gives them good information about what motivates a person and what makes them tick. For example, if a candidate comes in with a passion for helping people and the role involves extensive customer contact – they’re off to a very good start.

Passion is a great motivator. It taps into what each of us naturally likes doing and wants to keep doing. On the other hand, faking passion is hard, up-hill, dispiriting work. Anyone who has applied for a job they really didn’t want will understand this…

A good interviewer will quickly pick up if there is a mismatch between passion levels and the job on offer. No matter what the salary or the kudos or how desperate your circumstances, pretending an enthusiasm you don’t feel is not worth it. If you are struggling to find the passion at the interview, imagine your first day, your first week, month and year…is the job really going to motivate you to get out of bed in the morning??

The other snag to watch out for is mismatching your passions and your job choice. A friend of mine loved tinkering with old planes and recently found full-time employment restoring them. It was a dream come true and it was a disaster. Yes, he loved planes but he hadn’t realised he loved people contact too. Working alone in a workshop for 40 hours a week sent him into a fast downward spin. He quit and moved to another, less well paid, more customer focused role for the good of his health. His passion for planes is still there, but he reserves that for the weekends.

Passion for your work will keep you going. Take time to find roles which ‘fit’ your passions – going to work each day will become so much easier.

And remember “One person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested.” — E. M. Forster

By Kate Horrey


About Kate: Kate has a background in the not-for-profit sector, the public service and many years of volunteering for good causes. She’s also interested in creative writing. She is currently job seeking and hopes to to find employment in the do-good arena.

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