When to Hire and NOT Hire People With Passion

Most companies include Passion among their competencies, but some are not clear by what they mean and end up hiring people who are passionate about something that will not produce the results they want from them.

Ahh, the weekend, a time to get out on the water and enjoy boating! But first, one of my twin outboard 250s is sounding weird, so I’ll have Service look at it. Shoot! Service is chaotic this morning – 10 boaters want something done, and the only mechanics available are two kids who are goofing off. The rest of the service techs ARE out on the water. They pursued their passion – boating, and they’re boating. Their passion wasn’t – darn it – providing excellent service.

The Topgrading Professionals at Topgrading, Inc., have conducted tens of thousands of interviews of candidates for hire, and we’ve assumed that every hiring manager has wanted the successful candidate to be passionate, meaning energized, enthusiastic, hard working, and motivated.

But passion is quite specific and it’s essential that you nail down if the candidate will be passionate to achieve the results you want, in the specific job you offer, at the pay you offer, in your industry, in your company, in your location, reporting to you. If their “passion” is inconsistent with even one of those factors, don’t hire the person. Here are the general principles to consider when recruiting and screening candidates with passion:

1. Use Topgrading methods to nail down if the candidate is passionate, and about what, and if their passion is consistent with what job you offer, at the pay you offer, in your industry and location, reporting to you.

2. Consider passion to achieve results far more important than passion for the industry. MarineMax, the largest boat dealer company in the world, Topgrades the right way – hiring service technicians who are passionate about performing at the A+ level. (Actually, MarineMax hires everyone who is passionate about delivering results in whatever job they perform.) They initially hired service techs who loved boating, but soon found that on weekends, when owners of yachts wanted supurb service, too many of those service personnel called in sick and were … you guessed it … out boating!

3. Understand that for most happy, successful people, their passion for a job followed their success. Topgrading Professionals have learned exactly where “passion” comes from. Highly passionate candidates typically start their career with no particular love of an industry; they just want to be successful. And they usually follow the advice of adults to get an education … in order to get a decent job … with prospects for promotion and … work hard … develop the skills to work well with all sorts of people … be resourceful … learn from mistakes … keep trying to get better and … achieve great results. Passion? A lot of eventually successful and passionate people loved doing what they were doing only after they were successful at it — getting praise, receiving promotions, being asked to train others, and seeing a potentially successful career path emerging.

Here is a twist to this principle: Do not reject candidates who do NOT exude passion but, nonetheless, consistently achieve excellent results. Some people are not in their ideal career or industry or location, etc., but they are so darned conscientious that they always put the points on the scoreboard.

General Electric develops super general managers. Most started as accountants or analysts or warehouse managers and did not love the first few jobs they had but they were passionate about earning promotions and better career opportunities. That is good enough!

4. Passion for the vision is always desirable. Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) was established by Dick Stevenson decades ago when his mother, who died of cancer, was given lousy service in the hospital. Today CTCA ranks among the top cancer treatment facilities nationally in patient satisfaction. Most people have experienced friends and family affected by cancer and you can’t visit a CTCA hospital without being impressed by how sincere every employee is in their service to every patient.

Whether the vision is top patient care or providing superior customer service (Zappos) or helping companies succeed by hiring better (Topgrading, Inc.), hire people who think your vision is cool.

5. Don’t hire someone who passionate about pursuing a different career or industry or location or boss. In the Topgrading Interview you learn what candidates liked and disliked in every job and what their short term and long term goals are. So don’t hire someone who:

  • Has great credentials for Bookeeper but is soon to complete a Masters in Marketing and clearly wants to change careers.
  • Was transferred to Minneapolis, hates the weather, and can’t wait to move south again (and your locations are only in Minnesota).
  • Tried several times to exit heavy manufacturing, with a love for high tech … and your industry is heavy manufacturing.
  • Described several bosses as too controlling and stifling, and when you asked for specifics, the examples sounded a lot like your style.

With 90 million people out of work there are a lot of people desperate for a paycheck and willing to take a job they know they won’t like. Some may not quit and just be diligent and do a good job, but our recommendation is to use Topgrading to determine if candidates will be passionate about achieving the results you want, in your industry, in your company, in the job you offer, at the pay you offer and … reporting to you.

Published January 28, 2014

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