The one quality you should be looking for in your next candidate
There’s nothing better than a passionate employee, particularly because their commitment to the role often translates into engagement and value for your business. So, should you consider a candidate’s passion and not just their experience when recruiting? 

SEEK research reveals that one in two people are looking to change careers in the future. This means there are immense opportunities for hirers willing to look beyond a candidate’s experience and consider the attitude and passion that an individual can bring to a role.

“There is a shortage of skills and a real war for talent in a number of industry sectors, so businesses and hiring managers should think creatively and certainly consider candidates who are passionate but may not possess the skill or experience level preferred,” says Rachel Perkins, the founding director of JustMums Recruitment.

“Whilst there will be cases where a qualification and specific experience is required or mandatory, many roles could be taught on the job or through an internship program or on-the-job training”.

The benefits of hiring based on passion rather than only capability

“We know that people who are passionate are happier, higher performing, more innovative, have deeper engagement and are more likely to stay with us for the long haul,” says the Chief People Officer at Xero, Rachael Powell.

Powell says that employees with passion tend to have stronger loyalty to the business, are motivated to face challenges, positively influence team dynamics and ultimately make better leaders.

“Passion has a direct correlation to the way people feel and how the business performs,” she says.

Hiring for passion is not as uncommon as you may think. SEEK research has found one in two (49%) people involved in the hiring process have hired someone because they demonstrated more passion for the role than actual skills.

You can often teach someone the necessary skills or competencies to carry out the responsibilities of a role, but passion comes from within,” adds Perkins. “A passionate employee can do incredible things for a team or business if given the opportunity. They have a real sense of purpose and drive to achieve.”

Candidates are choosing roles based on passion – therefore hirers should too

Candidates have more power than ever in terms of which organisations they apply to work for, and many are looking for roles that have meaning and purpose. While almost two in three New Zealanders (64%) are doing something they’re passionate about in their current job or career, SEEK research reveals that 13 per cent have changed careers because they wanted to pursue their passion.

“Research has [also] revealed that Millennials in particular have a ‘passion over purpose’ mentality when choosing where they want to work,” says Powell.

“Organisations have no choice but to tap into this if they want to win the war for talent, particularly in the tech sector and particularly if they want to improve employee retention.”

What hirers can ask to unearth a candidate’s passion

“While we believe technical know-how and experience is important, a person’s attitude and passion is an even better predictor of whether they will thrive in an organisation,” says Powell.

Powell recommends looking beyond lists of achievements and experience and asking questions that delve into a candidate’s aspirations and strengths as well as what energises and motivates them.

Powell regularly asks questions including:

  • Talk me through your perfect day at work
  • What gives you energy and makes you excited?
  • When have you felt the most joy at work?

“We love to hire people who understand and have a passion for small business,” she says.

“They have empathy with our customer base and understand the challenges that small businesses face.”