Why Being Passionate About Something, Anything Makes You a Better Hire

“So, what are you passionate about?”

Right out of college, I got blindsided by this in an interview. I needed a job. Badly. I had done the send-in-your-resume-and-wait game for too long, and finally, I’d made it to the final stage interview at a local non-profit that I was really excited about. It was between me and some other dude. Screw that dude, I had this.

“So, what are you passionate about?”

Think think think. You’re passionate. You are an interesting person who enjoys interesting things. For God’s sake, you’re applying for a job to save the children! THE CHILDREN! But after months of job-hunting, I was emotionally exhausted. I had focused 100% on nothing but Finding Michaela A Job and had, in a way, lost a sense of something, anything that mattered to me beyond getting this job. In the end, I said I was passionate about her organization and making a difference … somewhere … to something. Maybe to the children. Or in plain speak, I said I was boring and fake and definitely not someone you’d want to have a beer with. Case and point, I didn’t get the job. They went with the other dude. (Screw you, dude.)

“So, what are you passionate about?”

This is what I know now — if they’re asking, it’s because they can’t tell. Your interviewer is trying to figure out if you’re someone that they want to work with. Regardless of whether or not you can do the job, if you’re not someone they want to work with, you won’t get hired. How do you prove you’re someone they want to work with? You show them you.  Showing your interviewer that you care about something, anything makes you stand out. It makes you memorable.  If I were to break it down, I’d argue that having a clear passion, whether or not it directly aligns with the position, demonstrates three things.

  1. You are interesting.
  2. You can commit.
  3. You can get excited about something (anything).

If I could go back, I would have taken a risk and told them a true passion of mine. Full disclosure: it’s power-walking. It’s therapeutic to me. I started my junior year in high school because I needed a way to exercise / unwind, and then I fell in love. In fact, I’ve power-walked two marathons because I love power-walking so damn much. I still do at least one long walk a week to make sure I don’t lose my edge.Portland Marathon 2007 baby! Portland Marathon 2007 baby! And why am I geeking out about power-walking during this interview? Because when I commit to something, I fully commit. When I’m excited about something, I go for it. And I’m really excited about this job and this organization, and I know I would bring that same level of passion and commitment to it every day. Don’t say what you think they want to hear. Everybody else is already saying it. Be proud of your passions. Put them on your resume even! And be authentic when you talk about your passions. Use them to show how it makes you a better hire than some other dude. Because, chances are, it truly does.

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