The Why of What You Do

by Michael Graber

The Why of What You DoSo, you want a job? We’ve been on a hiring frenzy at the Studio. Sadly, the drudgery of the interview process has wasted too much time and energy. More than 90-percent of the time we end up playing a role that seems more like a professional coach, friend, or therapist, trying to help the candidate figure out their core strengths and where they may potentially make a good fit in our culture. Then, we stop being so nice, realizing, this is their job, their ticket to the meeting.

Enough! Now, we are courteous, but bounce them out in 10 minutes or less unless they have done the work to prepare. We hear there is a talent shortage, but what we see is lots of people who don’t care enough to research the company with whom they are interviewing and who do not know themselves—and many are in their 30s, 40s, 50s.

At a minimum, if you are interviewing for a position know what the company does, research and read their thought pieces and propaganda, look up their leaders on LinkedIn, and be able to speak to how your experience and proclivities can help them meet their targets sooner.

Never, ever expect anyone to hire you because you do not like either your current location or position. In fact, even to infer such “anywhere but here syndrome” signals a red flag, especially if you cannot convey anything about the company with which you are interviewing.

The old axiom holds true: be interested, rather than interesting. Please do not devalue anyone’s time regaling them with stories of your career that have no relevance to the theme of conversation. This tendency shows that you have poor conversation habits and are not a skillful listener. As well, idle talk without substance may be the most wasteful of all professional sumps, displaying a lack of emotional intelligence, discretion, and respect for other’s time. If you showcase the art of VaperTalk in an interview, you’ll be respectfully shown the door.

Finally, be able to speak to your driving passions, the why of what you do. As the great poet Ezra Pound stated: “only emotion endures.” This wisdom is truer in an interview setting than any other. If you have the hard skills and experience, but not the manner, the social graces, soft skills, and awareness of others to establish a genuine rapport, then you will not be able to grow professionally into a managerial or leadership role. Speak to your core drives and tie them to the interest of the organization where you seek to be a vital force.

In summary, before going on a job interview, know your audience, know yourself, and make it matter. Also, make the conversation meaningful, remembering what my mother always told me at the dinner table, “It is a sin to be a bore.”

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Michael GraberMichael Graber is the co-founder and managing partner at Southern Growth Studio, a Memphis, Tennessee-based firm that specializes in growth strategy and innovation. A published poet and musician, Graber is the creative force that complements the analytical side of the house. He speaks and publishes frequently on best practices in design thinking, business strategy, and innovation and earned an MFA from the University of Memphis. Follow Michael @SouthernGrowth

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