In my day job (and I use that term affectionately, I love what I do) I meet a lot of people. I recruit and place people in jobs they want with a company that is easy to love and easy to be loyal to. I read a lot of résumés, I make a lot of phone calls, I meet a lot of people and through it all I ask them a multitude of questions to figure out ‘who they are’ and why or why not they might be ‘a good fit’ for our company’s culture. I could (and do) ask many things in many ways to ascertain this information – I put them through “what if” scenarios, ask for specific examples of the behaviour and processes, all the while tapping into a reasonable prediction of what their experience and personality will bring to the table. What I have learned over the years is that all of those questions work – interviews are nothing if not somewhat formulaic – but if you really want to learn about someone ask them what they are passionate about.
I don’t consider myself an intimidating interviewer. I make every effort to make candidates comfortable by actively listening, adjusting my tone and volume, my intensity and enthusiasm, all to fit the conversations. I don’t set up insurmountable power plays or lord job opportunities over job seekers. Still, I have seen people sweat right through their shirts, turn various shades of red, even become flushed and spotted with hives. Interview room tables are forever smudged by clammy hands and many a glass of water (intended to help calm them) has been spilled. I see nerves as a positive – if you don’t care about something, there’s no need for reaction, it’s only when you care about your performance that you get stage fright, or at the very least, butterflies. No matter how flustered the performance, one has to remember that not everything is always exactly as it seems. A magical thing happens when you ask someone where their passion lies. Almost without exception I see candidates relax, regroup and come alive. A bit of gentle prompting can take the conversation into places that “Give me an example of a time when …” just can’t achieve. Few parts of my job give me more satisfaction than seeing a candidate’s eyes light up when asked what really gets them up in the morning.
It has been a very long time since I was on the other side of the table in an interview, but I’d like to think that if I was asked, I could easily call upon something to discuss with passion. In truth, it would more than likely be this blog. Like anything that matters, I am periodically filled with doubt, or nervousness, and believe it or not, I still get a bit excited and giddy before clicking “publish” on each post. Silly, right? Maybe, but I love it. Much like at work, I have, by way of this blog, a way to make people at ease and bring them comfort and familiarity, and better yet, I have a way to share my passion. The recipe you find here is comforting and familiar yet new and different. Beef or lamb are replaced by hearty veg and lentils and the classic mashed potato topping makes room for silky, savoury yams. Make it, love it, and share it! enjoy!