As soon as I’ve written the person’s name in the “Pay to the Order of” line, I ask, “If I gave you this check for $5 million right now, what would you do with your life?” The answer provides tremendous insight into what this person’s true vocation is—and whether that fits in with the job I have to offer.
In fact, if the answer doesn’t resemble a description of the position for which they’re applying, I let them know that I won’t be hiring them and prepare to interview the next candidate. Their truthful response has told me they’re not a match for our company, and I need to look for other candidates who love what they do so much that $5 million fuels their inspiration to fulfill the career position I’m offering instead of taking them off in a completely different direction.
Once when interviewing a man in his 50s who had a warm smile and a stylish briefcase, I wrote the check and asked him my stock question. We’d been having a favorable interview so far: He’d spoken enthusiastically about what he wanted to do for and with the company, and up to this point, it seemed that he’d be a good match for the managerial position. But then his eyes got a faraway look, and he started talking about how much he loved woodworking: the smell of fresh-cut pine, cedar, cherry, and walnut; the feel of finely sanded lumber; the transformation of rough wood into precise shapes; and the challenge of crafting beautiful details.
While he was in this reverie, I gently interrupted him. “You obviously love woodworking. Why don’t you pursue that?”
He probably thought I was kidding because he laughed.
“Seriously,” I said. “If you’re such a great manager and would love to be a woodworker and furniture maker, yet you haven’t figured out how to manage your own life so that you can do what you love, why would I expect you to successfully manage my company?”
He began to waver when he realized I wasn’t joking. “Well, John,” he said as he tried to convince me, “I’d really love to come work for you….”
I didn’t hire him, and he left my office with something to think about.
A few weeks later, he returned to my office offering his personal thanks and letting me know that he’d begun to pursue his dream. After our conversation, he’d realized that he possessed the skills to run his own company yet hadn’t followed through on it because owning a furniture-making shop hadn’t fit into his idea of a “respectable career.” He was over that now, though, and was feeling incredibly grateful for the push I’d given him. He sent several elegant wood pieces to my office to express his appreciation.
When hiring, you’re not doing anyone a disservice by passing over uninspired employees. And as an employee, you’re not doing anyone any favors by clinging to a job or company that doesn’t help awaken you to your own magnificence. Instead, whether employer or employee, seek to match work and worker. The motto behind this is: Love what you do and do what you love.
Dr. John Demartini is a human behavioural specialist, educator, author and founder of the Demartini Institute, a private research and education institute.Visit www.DrDemartini.com.