Passionate on demand

No matter how well the corporate communications job interview goes, best not to demonstrate this type of passion

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I have just read a job application where someone writes that they are passionate about corporate communication… in the last few days, three young people in interviews have told me they are passionate about PR or technology. OFGS!

says our correspondent.

I think our chipper hooray-for-everything applicants are merely responding to their job market conditioning. If you doubt me, do a Google search for “Are you passionate about”. We understand that employers don’t necessarily want experience, it’s no secret that recruiters are a bitt iffy about people who sound like they might be black, but we’re apparently thrilled by candidates who lie about how passionate they are.

If you are selecting on passion you’re also probably going to disqualify the best applicants, because they are the ones who, when you ask if they are passionate about vegetables for example, will say “Of course not. I’m not mental”.

Yet we all know the requirement to pretend to be passionate on demand is part of the interview. If you’re recruiting at the moment maybe you could spice up your recruitment process by adding a short test with questions like “Do you find repetitive dull tasks thrilling?”, or “Is being treated like a child extraordinarily motivating for you?”, I bet you’d find a large proportion of people who would tick “yes”, simply because it’s an interview.

A quick scan of the job boards shows that that I could enhance my employability (let’s be honest, there’s quite a bit of headroom there) if I could bring myself to admit that, yes, I am passionate about change control (a business analyst), beer, tax, cake, and telesales. “IF YES THEN APPLY NOW!!!” the last advert says, hinting that it might be one of those telesales jobs where the ability to bully vulnerable people is the type of passion they’re looking for. But thanks to political correctness going mad you can’t put that in an advertisement any more.

I was surprised to find several advertisements asking if I was passionate about recruitment. You’d have thought that recruiters, of all people, would have realised the limitations of asking for fake passion; or maybe they just want to attract extremely insincere people. In the job you might have to simultaneously lie about the employer to the candidate, and the candidate to the employer. This is difficult for most people, but it’s probably more accurate to say that it requires a passion for commission than a passion for recruitment.

About.com even has a page of user-supplied answers for the interview question “What are you passionate about?”. I’d suggest that, if you need someone at About.com to tell you the answer to this question, your passion might be lacking an essential element; but then again, if recruiters are so bored that they have to ask you this question, it’s probably a crappy job anyway.

If I ever go to a telesales job interview I’m using this model answer from the article, as suggested by “Scar”:

I’m passionate about everything in the way most people are only passionate about their ‘pet’ subjects. This is both an advantage and a downfall at times: it means I give 110% to everything I do, whether it’s watching paint dry, stuffing envelopes, writing an article or running a company.

Please, please can someone let this guy run a company passionately for us, and tell us how it goes. He’s probably available: I looked up “Are you passionate about watching paint dry?” on the internet and, sad to report, it’s one of the few manifestations of passion on demand that recruiters aren’t seeking.

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10 Responses to “Passionate on demand”


  1. 1 Robert Blincoe February 11, 2010 at 9:50 am

    20 years ago I got an interview and then a job offer with menswear retailer Horne Brothers. Those were different times. In my application, I stated with sincerity, and a nod to Pam Ayres, that I had ‘a passion for fashion’.
    The phrase was a talking point at interview, and I was dressed like a Hardy Amies wet dream to back it up.
    The money was crap, I turned it down, and they went down in ’93. I’m now man at TK Maxx. The passion has dissipated.

  2. 2 Claire Thompson February 11, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Bummer.

    I use the word ‘passionately’ on my website front page.

    Back to the drawing board for me then.

  3. 3 Tim Phillips February 11, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I don’t blame you Claire, I blame society.

    Meanwhile I’m enjoying the interview possibilities of ‘a passion for fashion’…

    I love shirts til it hurts
    I go wowsa at a trowsa

    etc

  4. 4 Aaron February 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Good post. The HR industry must be one of the worst culprits for corporate insincerity.

  5. 5 Tim Phillips February 11, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I blow a fuse when I sell shoes

  6. 8 Robert Blincoe February 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    My pulse jackhammers for nylon windjammmers.

    Tim – as a response to accusations of insincerity, the business world seems to be pushing ‘authenticity’ in voice and action. Obviously bullshit but I’d like to see you prove it with a pie chart or graph.

  7. 10 Brett Hetherington February 11, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    It’s sad really. One of my favourite TV shows is Masterchef. (Not the “professionals” version or the celebrity version.) I love the carry-on of the hosts, John and Greg (his hyperbole is to be admired) but they have this ridiculous part of the program which they call “The Passion Test.” They ask the amateur cooks to convince them that they want to have a full-time career in the industry and it seems obligatory for each one to sit down on the interview couch and say how they are passionate about food, which is made even more stupid in that some people actually have to read their statements of card. Somehow, it just demeans the entire show.


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