Bonnie knew she had to nail the interview because it was the dream job she had longed for. After 7 years at her current employer, she had become discouraged. Going to work every day was a chore, and she saw nothing in the future that would change that.

The job she was interviewing for was with a company that was only five years old but had already established itself. She was meeting with the founder. The first question she was asked was totally unexpected: “Tell me about Sadie.”

Sadie was her dog. Bonnie thought the question was meant to be an icebreaker so she was comfortable telling her story with Sadie. But the next 15 minutes of the interview were about Sadie. Bonnie wasn’t sure where the interview was going because she hadn’t said anything about her experience.

Once the Sadie part of the interview was over, the next question was about Leyda, the DACA teenager that Bonnie had befriended. Again there were a number of follow-up questions about Leyda and how Bonnie had helped her. At this point in the interview, Bonnie began to wonder if they were ever going to talk about her credentials.

In fact, the final set of questions concerned Bonnie’s status as a triathlete. Again, there were a number of follow-up questions but none about her credentials, skills, or expertise.

Toward the end of the interview allotted time, the founder stunned Bonnie when he said: “I want to hire you. What will it take for you to say yes?” Bonnie was so stunned, she hesitated not knowing what to say.

The founder, seeing her hesitation, shared his thinking with Bonnie: “You are probably wondering why I didn’t ask about your abilities and fit for the job. I did, but it may not have been obvious to you. The one thing that I most want in employees is engagement. I love how engaged and passionate you are about Sadie, Leyda, and being a triathlete.  I just don’t find that in many people. I want employees who are engaged with life not just living life. Engagement is not something you can learn in college. It’s who you are. To me, engagement encompasses everything I’m looking for in our organization. It’s the foundation for success.”

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“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” – Betty Bender (author)

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Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.