A lot of times in job interviews, I would tell people that my main attribute — my real selling point — was that I’m a very curious person. That’s actually a bad thing to say in a lot of job interviews, because it’s not the precise language that the interviewer is really looking for, although that’s very flawed. It should be a really good thing to say in job interviews — because if you’re looking for a term like “a go-getter” or “a team player,” well, being curious rolls up with that kind of stuff.
The working world is an ambiguous place
Here’s a new post on Harvard Business Review that explains it a little bit, including this crucial connector: people who are more curious tend to be more comfortable with ambiguity. Can you think of a more ambiguous place than the modern workforce? Managers aren’t great, e-mails are coming from everywhere, no one really has any idea what’s going on, and everyone’s running around between meetings and telling everyone else how busy they are. It’s a world with a lot of ambiguity — so having a curious mind in there might be helpful.
Secondly, being curious leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time, which makes sense because (by definition) a curious person wants to “chase” information — to learn more.
Complex tasks into simpler tasks
Simply stated, a person who chases knowledge tends to have more options when it comes to breaking complex tasks into a series of simpler tasks — and at core, that’s all work where really is, whether you mop floors, fly planes, publish graphic novels, work on an assembly line, or whatever else.
So if you are a hiring manager and you come across someone who’s really, earnestly discussing their curiosity — give it a listen. It might not be exactly what you want to hear, or are conditioned to hear — but it might be exactly the type of person you need on the team.
If you don’t believe me (because who am I, really?), maybe you’ll believe Jack Dorsey, who started a couple of successful businesses (Twitter and Square) — and who we’ve talked about on this site before too: