3 Questions to Make Sure You Always Hire Someone That is Passionate About Their Work


Every candidate walks into an interview room to try to show the best side of themselves. And you can never really ask the question “so how passionate are you about our cause?” because it would certain just trigger a well-rehearsed, positive response from them.

How do you weed out who is genuinely passionate about your company’s mission? And who’s just pretending?

I would like to try to offer some ideas, from my ideas working with fellow Malaysians, on the questions you can ask during the interview:

1) “Apart from any official company training, how do you develop yourself outside of the office?”

This question would almost certainly have candidates responding with “reading books, magazines etc”. You can then follow up with a more specific question about any recent articles they’ve read or books etc, and ask them to explain what they learned. It will take most candidates by surprise, so allow them to think (don’t assume any hesitation as a sign that they are not being truthful), and when they answer, you can then gauge their thought process and how much substance they have over the subject.

2) “What do you think needs improving in your profession and why?”

This is a great question to see if the candidate responds with passion about the issues, and real insights into their profession or if they are just giving you a generic answer. But the other important thing you can gauge from how they answer this question is whether they offer any solutions, or if they are a negative person.

3) “Who do you consider to be role models or mentors and why?”

If they answer someone from their family, listen carefully to whether it’s a generic answer or whether there is a genuine reason for them to be inspired, and it should be related to the profession at some level. If you feel it’s not convincing, try encouraging them to look outside their family and see if they know who the “heroes” of their profession are, and what they think of them. I believe most passionate people have someone that they look up to and admire.


How to DIY your own cool, modern office

We see all these Silicon Valley startups with their cool offices which was built by interior design specialists. Most startups don’t think they should spend their first few dollars focusing on office design, and would rather use that money for core business activities such as marketing or web design.

Yet, the success of your startup relies heavily on being to attract good people, especially when you start to scale up your operations, and one the simpliest things you can start with is to build a cool, modern office. So I decided to do a bit of curating and found some really good resources for those who want to do this on a budget, so now anyone can DIY their own cool office.

Check out these articles:

1) Understand the core concepts – 10 Office Design Tips to Foster Creativity

2) Basic yet most important design principles – The 3 Principles of Interior Design

3 )Get inspired by actual designs – Office Design Gallery

Want to see how our Malaysian startups are designing their offices?

Visit the companies section of Wobb, see what’s really happening in Malaysia, and get some inspiration!


Supporting our Malaysian talent


Was at the Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival on Sunday, and wow does Malaysia have a lot of talented people in the arts scene. From music, dance and films, it’s great to see that the community is buzzing with people who are very passionate about what they do.

I’m guilty of only watching some of Yasmin Ahmad’s work for the first time at the festival. And I have to say that I really enjoyed her films. Even though these were old films, they were so relevant to our Malaysian society, and is still very relevant today.

I think the arts have always been one of the least favoured “careers”, mainly because there is a lot of uncertainty about whether it will pay well, therefore most people have always preferred to go to the safe jobs, such as accounting or engineering. And parents and schools tend to advise children to focus on these safe jobs. This doesn’t just apply to Malaysia, it applies to almost every country in the world right now.

Yet, when I was standing there watching these people perform, I saw a lot of passion, enthusiasm, and they look so alive. They were clearly very “into” their performance, and you could tell from their facial expressions, body language and the sheer energy that was in the room. Some of these performers do this while holding on to a day job, and  I wondered if they were the same at these day jobs. My guess is probably not.

So it all comes back to this – choosing to do something you love, is the best way to make you happy. We spend most of our time at our jobs, why shouldn’t we enjoy it?

There is an iconic TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson about the importance of doing something you are passionate about. And he extends this to education’s role in ensuring that the arts should be given equal weight as the other more traditional subjects such as math and science. I was surprised when I found out recently that many people in Malaysia have not actually seen this talk, so I will share this video here. And I hope it changes your life.


Why it’s a mistake to stick to a “safe job”, according to Jim Carrey

We all know Jim Carrey as the comedian. Someone that you would not take too seriously. But he recently gave a very inspiring  commencement speech to Maharishi University of Management’s class of 2014.

He tells a story of his father, who could have been a comedian, but chose to be an Accountant instead because it was a “safe job”. And learning later, that even a “safe job” is not really safe. To quote Jim Carrey:

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”

Here’s the highlight from the speech:

Or if you have the time, watch the full speech here:

How employers can maximise their results from a career fair

Career fairs are one of those events where many employers participate in because it increases visibility of their company to jobseekers, and it’s also a great place to hire many junior or entry level staff, although I’ve known experienced people who were hired through career fairs.

To maximise what you get from a career fair, it all comes down to companies realising this simple fact:

At a career fair, YOU are the face of your company.

Many people you will meet at a career fair may know very little about your company, and for them, you will represent everything they will know about your business. Therefore that impression you leave with them will affect whether they are interested to apply to your company, and this impression will even extend to your business brand.

So with that concept in mind, here are some ideas on how you can maximise your results at a career fair:

1) Select the right employees to man your booth

Because they represent your company, you want to put your best people forward. We recommend diversity, and people who are confident, articulate and friendly. You don’t need to limit these people to just your recruiters or HR division. In fact, if you have non-HR people there, jobseekers can get a better sense of who they will be working with, rather than just relying on your HR team to be the bridge between jobseekers and your business.

Select their background based on what type of jobseekers you expect to find at the career fair. For example, if you are looking to hire technical IT people, have a technical employee with you at the booth.

2) Train them to sell your organisation

How would you want your guys to represent your company? What should they be communicating to jobseekers about your business, your vision, and what’s great about the company? Have a clear consistent message. One of the greatest tools of marketing is to have a consistent message. And you are in the marketing world right now. Here’s an article on how companies like Apple using consistent messages in marketing, and also some techniques which you can use to develop a consistent message for your brand as an employer.

Do note that it’s important to avoid the temptation of the hard sell. Be informative without being imposing or desperate. And before launching into a sales pitch, always ask the jobseekers about them, so you know if it’s relevant. Be easy to talk to. If you hard sell too much, jobseekers will wonder if you are struggling to hire people, which damages your employer brand.

3) Be clear about the positions to focus on

Every employee at the booth should know in detail the positions that you are trying to fill. This makes it easy for them to decide which jobseekers they should focus on, and also linking these jobseekers to actual positions in the company, rather than adopting a generic approach to all conversations.

4) Plan a systematic way to store CVs

You will be getting CVs from three channels: hardcopies, from USB pendrives, and emails. Decide on a system to organise these CVs so you don’t miss out on any later, and you won’t have a headache when you realise the hundreds of CVs are all over the place. Have a box for hardcopies, a dedicated folder on your computer for CVs downloaded from USB pendrives, and maybe even a dedicated email address that jobseekers can send their CVs to later?

Some recruiters prefer to use their own email addresses, as it makes it easy to track who they actually spoke to during the day and its much more personal. This is okay, as long as you know how to organise your own email account in case you do not have time to immediately go through these CVs when you are back in the office.

But this also brings us to next point, which is…

5) Go through the CVs as quickly as you can, after the career fair

Many companies see the career fair as the main event, and once this pool of CVs have been collected, they postpone going through them until a later date when the need to recruit is more urgent.

However, going through these CVs sooner has many advantages, including the fact that you will remember the candidates better, and you know they are actively looking right now, so you won’t waste time calling them a few months later when most of them would have found a job. Also, jobseekers will be impressed at the efficiency of your team, as most companies will probably take a longer time to respond.

6) Make your booth look awesome

I cannot emphasise this enough. Your booth is going to give you personality. It’s the first thing jobseekers see, even before they speak to anyone. The better your booth looks, the more people will pop by to have a conversation. Use bright colours that represent your brand, and make it fun. You can even have demonstrations or props that are relevant to your business.

Here are some other ideas on how you can build a booth that will attract more jobseekers during the career fair.

7) Let jobseekers leave the booth feeling happy they dropped by

Be personable and kind to everyone to comes by the booth. You will come across many jobseekers on the day that you will not hire. But remember to still spend some face time with each person, even if you know that you would never hire them. These people may still be users of your company’s product, whether now or in the future, and they may have friends that you will want to hire, so maintain the best image you can as a respectable company and employer.

Need more ideas about how to sell your company as an employer?

Drop me a line, and I will be happy to give you some input.


Is social media really networking?

Networkers and recruiters pay attention, because this really applies to you. Social media is a good networking TOOL, but most people confuse it as being networking itself. There are many social media platforms right now, including Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. In fact, the other day I got an email from Linkedin asking me to download their “Connected App” because apparently using this I can “network without the work”. Since when did clicking a few buttons and sending a few messages become networking?

Yet that is what a lot of confused people are doing out there right now. They are adding people on these social media platforms, sending them a couple of messages, and in their minds, they are busy NETWORKING. No, not really.

Here’s a little TEDx talk by Michael Goldberg about the Rediscovering Personal Networking, which I believe pretty much sums up what people forget as REAL networking.

Here’s a summary of some of the most important ideas from the talk:

1) Your “friends” on social media are not your real friends

He joked (maybe not a joke) that if you really wanted to know who your real friends are, send them all of the a message telling them that you need help moving to a new house. Only those who respond are your real friends. Everyone else should be “unfriended”.

2) Real relationships are built when networking is about them, not about you

He defined networking as “a proactive approach to meet people to learn with the prospect of helping them”. Not to sell your stuff, or pitch your ideas.

3) It’s okay to network only with people you actually like

Goldberg says that he only likes about a third of the people he meets, and he spends most of his time networking with them.

4) Strategic networking is about technique

Goldberg offers a technique that he summarises as PEEC (Profession, Expertise, Environment, Call to Action). By building a PEEC statement with a clear call to action, you are always prepared when doing strategic networking.