Our Talent Development Manager Erin talks about how you can bring your personal passion to an interview in the third instalment of her Interview Skills series.

Ariana Huffington recently posted that passion is one of the top qualities that CEOs look for in individuals and certainly at ZeroLight we're always on the lookout for individuals who demonstrate this quality during our recruitment process.

Ultimately, it's passion for their craft that drives our employees to create our world leading technology. Many will assume this is simply a passion for technology, but that's just one aspect of the enthusiasm we want to see from potential recruits. Our workforce is characterised by individuals who have the following in abundance:

  • Passion for doing a brilliant job.
  • Passion for pushing themselves.
  • Passion for pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
  • Passion for developing people.

During interviews, we're triggered by individuals who demonstrate this passion in concrete ways. It's not enough for someone to say, "I take pride in doing a great job." We would expect that as a matter of course. We want to know how the individual goes about this and what examples they can give to show this.

Showing your passion when discussing past roles

You'll usually start an interview by discussing your previous positions - your responsibilities, your team, your projects. You can use these questions to give real world examples of your professional values & passion. Maybe you pulled out all the stops to deliver a brilliant project to a tight deadline or you actioned new ideas for team building activities that resulted in a better working environment. Give details and remember to link this back to your passion - for example: "I could see that X process wasn't as efficient as it could be, so as a side project I got some of the key stakeholders together to get their input on some simple changes and implemented these with minimal disruption, resulting in an X % increase in speed of delivery. I'm fascinated by finding ways to work smart as well as hard, so making those improvements became really important to me." The key part is joining the action with what that represents for you, outlining how your interest made you go above and beyond to achieve something that benefitted your previous employer.

Show your passion with research

Doing your research before an interview is standard practice, but you can really show your passion for the potential new role by being smart about the information you gather and the way in which you share it. It's not enough to go on a website and read up on the company. At the very least you need to develop a good understanding of what the company offers to its clients (practice summarising this in a few sentences beforehand) and who the key clients are. As an interviewer I'd expect candidates to have read company blogs, watched the videos on our Youtube channel, looked at key members of staff on LinkedIn and Twitter. Social media in particular will give candidates a good insight into what is happening day to day. For instance, a candidate recently asked me how our presentation at an international tech conference had gone, having seen a post about it on LinkedIn. This led to questions around the types of leads that were generated at shows like this and how these were tracked and followed up on. The candidate then talked about the ways they'd done this before in previous roles - giving me further insight into their passion and relevancy for the position we were discussing.

Show your passion outside of work

One of my key interview questions is "what are you passionate about outside of work?" and I'm looking for people who invest their own time in interesting pursuits to develop themselves. Answers like "I like to work out" or "I like the cinema" feel a bit disappointing not because those aren't worthy interests, but it would be great to hear more. If someone explained, "I exercise a few times a week, I try to do a gym session, a team sport and go for a run as well, as I'm trying to figure out what kind of exercise I enjoy the most." Or "I love going to the cinema, I pay for a monthly pass so I can go as often as I want. I really enjoy seeing old films - I saw Jaws recently & it was great to see a proper old-fashioned blockbuster on the big screen." The extra detail would go a long way to show their enthusiasm.

Candidates who have dedicated interests or who give up their spare time to volunteer stand out. If someone struggled to outline anything that they were passion about, this would be a red flag for me as the interviewer. I enjoy people who talk passionately about playing in a band, learning a new language or spending time at the local animal shelter. It shows commitment to developing themselves and demonstrates a natural curiosity towards new situations and experiences. I know from experience that it's that curiosity that will make individuals good problem solvers and it's the passion for learning a new craft that will stand them in good stead as potential ZeroLight employees.