I don’t care what company or industry it is if you are interviewing with a company you need to show passion and why you are interested in working for the company. Showing a slight interest isn’t enough. You need to show unwavering passion for something the company does, builds, services, or stands for.
If you are interviewing at McDonald’s then you have a passion for Big Macs, have been eating them since you were a kid and can say “2 all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun” in less than 5 seconds. You Super Size everything, and to you, the documentary movie is just a conspiracy theory and hearsay.
Just saying, “I believe in your mission statement” isn’t enough. Just saying, “I find what you guys are doing really interesting” isn’t enough. Everyone says this shit. You need to quantify it for me with specific examples as to why this mission statement means something to you personally. EVERYONE tells me that they can relate to our mission statement, appreciates our core values, or wants to be a part of a great team. This is not enough people!! I need to know WHY! What specific example can you give me that proves this statement means something to you?
A few years ago when we were hiring our benefits person. I asked a number of candidates the standard question“ why are you interested in benefits?” Within HR, for me personally, one of the less interesting things is benefits. To me, benefits are fairly straightforward, a lot of paperwork, and employees usually don’t bang down the door to say “you guys are doing great with the benefits plan!”. It is usually the opposite. After interviewing a number of duds, we met a soft-spoken candidate. I asked my usual question about “Why benefits?” and was expecting the same uninteresting answer. This particular candidate sat up, leaned forward and literally accused me with her question. “Are you kidding me?!!! Benefits are the first question people ask about when considering a new company, and one of the biggest factors in recruiting. Employees are retained by benefit plans and will leave if you change it too much” This candidate CLEARLY had a lot of passion for benefits. Yes, we hired her, she was a rock star and she eventually moved on to lead a worldwide benefits department for a very large company. Passion.
I think P Diddy said it best in a scene from “Get him to the Greek” with Jonah Hill. P Diddy found the song African Child personally offensive, but he knew how to play the game and coached his young protégé with the following:
If he asks me if I love “African Child”, I love that shit! I play that shit in my fucking sleep, I wake up to it, I brush my teeth to it. I love “African Child”!!!
So we might alter the language a little in an interview situation but you get the idea. Don’t just tell me “I like your music Mr. Snow”.
If you are interviewing for a company that has a product, you beg, borrow or steal that product! You use it, taste it, smell it, poop it! If the product isn’t within reach, then research the crap out of that company and that product. You are going to do the same amount of research on the product that a 13-year-old girl will conduct on Justin Bieber! You need to go into Stalker Mode. Posters in your bedroom, shrine in the locker mode. You need to give the person interviewing you the vision that you have a passion for the company, product or the industry.
I can hear it already. Nasty, you want me to do all this research for a job I am probably not going to get? Yes, absolutely, because the person that IS going to get the job IS passionate about the product and the company. Their cover letter conveys this message. Their body language conveys their passion. If you are not passionate, you need to generate passion, you need to fake it. More than likely the company you are interviewing with has something of interest to you, or you wouldn’t be answering that ad. Get Nasty.
Here are a few examples of how I would “begin” to show my interest in a few companies. They all have specific examples.
Starbucks Barista: “I love coffee. I fell in love with Espresso when I went to Italy for the first time and saw the steam rising out of a 4 group Marzocco. The bustle of the shop, the fashionable people who all seemed to know each other at the corner café. The old men sitting at a table, sipping espresso and smoking cigarettes, the young girls giggling. The people behind the counter created that atmosphere with enthusiastic greetings and big smiles to everyone. I want to be a part of that!” Passion!
Apple Genius: “I love Apple products. I have 3 iPods, I have upgraded every iPhone that I have had since the first one came out. I have a MacBook Pro and have downloaded tons of apps. Within my circle of friends, I am known as Mr. Apple. If they have ANY problems with their Apple products, they come to me. My best friend’s father just bought the new iPhone and my buddy brought his father over to me because he knew I could explain how it worked to his father in laymen’s terms. My blog stevejobsismyhero.com revolves around Mac Products.” Passion!
Ferrari “anything”: I have always loved Ferrari. The name to me epitomizes the combination of sculpture and technology. When I was in high school my friend’s father had a 1984 308 GTB and I just wanted to be around it so much, I would offer to wash it for him for free. I washed it, I vacuumed it, I treated the leather. He didn’t trust me to wax it, but I loved being around that car. He actually let me take it to Prom and I was “the man”. I, of course, had the walls of my room filled with Ferrari posters. I obviously can’t afford one right now, but I really do love cars. I probably get a different car every 18 to 24 months, and they have all been sports cars that I have tuned up and fixed over the years. Right now I am driving an Acura Integra. My first Ferrari will probably be an early 80’s vintage because it is affordable. It just isn’t practical for me right now to have my only car a Ferrari living in the Pacific Northwest but someday I will.” Passion!
The above may sound hokey on paper, but these kinds of stories aka “passion” will make you stand out. Every business owner wants to fill their company with employees that are passionate about their industry and product. Employees whose side projects and their hobbies blend to their work.
See you at the after party
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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