Passion and the Quest for Fit

By Posted in - Interviewing on June 13th, 2013 0 Comments

I was reading an article called “How to Measure Passion in an Interview” the other day and it got me thinking about the construct of work-related passion and what it really means to me. Work-related passion indicates a high degree of energy and enjoyment in performing certain tasks or pursuing certain work related goals. To me, it would suggest that there is a good alignment between a given work opportunity and the internal values and preferred skills of an individual. In this regard, passion would be a logical result of a combination of motivation, culture and job fit.

It makes sense to incorporate questions in an interview to explore all three aspects of fit. The interview is basically a quest for fit. Motivational fit is evaluated by exploring what kinds of skills and situations are energizing to the individual. Every individual has a set of preferred skills that they enjoy exercising. Similarly, individuals also have certain types of situations or challenges that they find particularly satisfying. The extent that a position offers challenges and opportunities consistent with the individual’s preferences, there will be motivational fit. This is why key challenges and opportunities should be identified as part of the job requirement profiling process. Interview questions can then be constructed to explore motivational fit. For example, it is easy to ask the individual when they felt most energized at work and ask them to describe the circumstances and what made it so exciting.

Culture fit is the next aspect of fit to explore in the interview. Culture fit, to me, means alignment between the values of an individual and the values of an organization. What kinds of behaviors are valued in the organization and what kinds of behaviors are frowned upon? A candid evaluation of an organization’s true values also should be part of the job profiling process. It is then possible to construct interview questions to explore whether the values of the organization are consistent with the behavioral preferences and core values of the individual. For example, you could ask the individual what is most important to them in a work environment. Conversely, you also could ask them to describe a work environment that they found undesirable and what aspects of the environment were most troubling. It is certainly possible for a highly qualified individual to fail in a given organization due to a lack of culture fit. For example, a fiercely independent individual may not fit well in a culture that is highly collaborative.

The third aspect of fit is job fit. Job fit refers to alignment between the behavioral and technical competencies required for successful performance on the job and the particular competency profile of an individual. Competency-based behavioral interviewing is the best tool for evaluating job fit. Competency requirements are defined in the job requirement profiling process and interview questions are then constructed to elicit examples of past behaviors reflecting those competencies in situations that are similar to what will be faced on the job.

By incorporating all three aspects of fit into the job requirement profiling process and designing pre-planned questions to explore all three aspects in the interview process, it is possible to hire individuals who are aligned in all three fronts. When this alignment is achieved, I would argue that you would have an individual who approached their job with passion, would be highly successful, and would be actively engaged in the organization.

Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

About Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

Patrick Hauenstein is the President and Chief Science Officer for OMNIview. During his free time Pat likes to cook. He is particularly fond of traditional southern cuisine. Pat is also an animal lover ...
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