On Our Minds

Working with so many organizations across multiple issue areas gives us a unique view into what’s happening in the social sector. This is where we share our insights and ruminations.
What's your dream job? And why do we care?
Anyone who interviews has a favorite question. It's the question that they think provides a meaningful snapshot of a candidate and his/her fit for the role. What’s *my* favorite question? I like to ask, ‘Tell me about your dream job…’ This question not only gives me a sense of a candidate's current motivations but also an idea of his/her longer term professional goals. Our goal, after all, is to help create win-win situations for both employer and employee, not find short-term solutions at the expense of longer term goals. Quite often, candidates, in an effort to find roles that are an immediate fit for their current skills, apply for roles that are at odds with their long-term ambitions.  For example, if we are interviewing for an operations role, and a candidate with a great operations background tells us that the dream job is focused on external relationship building, we cannot help but wonder why he or she would want the role at hand -- or how long he or she would stay once hired, even if the skills are the perfect match. On the other hand, if we are interviewing for a Managing Director of Talent role, and a candidate shares that the dream job is to create and execute the vision for human capital of an organization, I become much more excited about figuring out how existing skills can apply to the role at hand. Is it better to "fudge" the truth, and share a long-term goal closely aligned with both an immediate opening and skills? Or is it better to take the risk of sharing true professional goals, whether or not they align with your pre-existing experience?  Employers face a similar conundrum: do we hire someone whose skills would enable them to hit the ground running fast, or someone slightly less experienced who will be deeply motivated by the work at hand? While there are no cookie cutter answers to these questions, what we look for, and what we advise our clients to look for, are: transferable skills, a stimulating yet surmountable learning curve, and a clear path from the role under consideration to the "dream job."  While that path is not the only factor that matters, we believe that a clear path from the current opportunity to the "dream job" is a pre-requisite for success.

- By Will Wong (he/him/his)