As I was inching closer to graduation at the University of Utah, I began to interview with a number of companies. One company flew me to New Mexico to go through a round of interviews. I spent two days going through a number of group and one on one interviews. I felt good about how it went and figured I had a great shot at receiving a job offer. A few days later I received a call from the recruiter who thanked me for interviewing, but said he was extending an offer to someone else. I asked him what I could improve upon in future interviews and he said,
“You need to show more passion. All things being equal we’ll select the candidate who wants the job the most”
That stung. But he was right. I was going through the motions. It was fun to be wined and dined but I wasn’t very excited (certainly not passionate) about the position for which I had interviewed.
I learned a valuable lesson that day and I’m thankful for that recruiter who turned me down for a job but offered me advice containing lasting value. Fifteen years after that experience I interviewed for another position and was up against two people who had been with the company twice as long as I had. Both had numerous technical certifications. I had none.
I thought back to what that recruiter told me as I went through the interview loop. I really wanted the job and I made sure that each person on the interview panel understood that. Although I might not have been the most qualified on paper, I made sure I was passionate. I’m sure many factors come into play when making hiring decisions, but I’m convinced that passion plays a part in many of those decisions. I certainly look for it in the candidates I hire, and I weed out those who show up with a “take it over leave it” attitude.
It’s nearly impossible to fake passion. I know it when I see it and I saw it today at church in my Sunday School teacher. I saw it in my father when he taught me how to throw a curve ball in our front yard. I saw it in my 9th grade English professor when she taught us about Shakespeare. I see it in my current manager when he speaks of his horses and volunteer work. I see it in Kim when she teaches Luca a new song on the piano. They aren’t just going through the motions like I did during the interview in New Mexico. You can see the excitement in their eyes. The focus. The tone of their voice. There’s no mistaking it.
And that 2nd interview? I got the job.