How to Hire People with a Sense of Purpose

How to Hire People with a Sense of Purpose

A large study by LinkedIn showed that about 34% of the global workforce is purpose focused, meaning that purpose is a major factor driving their choices at work. More importantly, in my book The Purpose Revolution we show evidence that team members who are focused on purpose perform better on almost every metric we care about as leaders: engagement, commitment, service, productivity- and they even call in sick less!

At a recent large session with leaders last week in Michigan I was asked, “How do we hire for purpose?” It is an important question. While leaders can, and should, help all team members to find purpose in their work, it sure is easier to hire people who have it already. As my co-author Jeff always says, “You might be able to train a turkey to climb a tree, but it’s easier to hire a squirrel.”

So here are three simple suggestions:

Recruit for Purpose

Advertise jobs focusing on job purpose rather than job function. Rather than list all the tasks the job involves, focus on the real difference that function makes. By focusing on purpose, people who are more purpose focused will be more likely to apply. For example, if you are hiring housekeepers in a hotel or hospital, focus on “You will create a great environment for people to get healthy or be comfortable away from home” and “You will be part of a team that can make people’s day through your caring.”

Interview for Purpose

During interviews, ask people where they found purpose in their previous or current job. Here is the way I like to ask it: “On a day when you went home in your previous job feeling you really made a difference to something you care about, what happened that day?” Don’t over coach the answer, see how they respond. The most purpose focused people will have an answer.

Ask What Their Purpose Is?

Finally, be bold and ask them, “In your last job, what was your purpose?” Ask: “As you think about your life, what would you say your purpose is?” So many leaders and business owners are afraid to ask these kinds of questions, but why not? We want to know if people have a purpose beyond money and we want to know whether their purpose connects to what they will be doing in the job we are hiring them for.

Don’t Forget- Share Your Own Purpose

One final thought: make sure you share your purpose when you interview people. Remember, purpose focused people want to work with others who share that orientation so tell them your purpose and the purpose of your company or team.


Dr. John Izzo has spoken to over one million people, advised over 500 companies, authored nine best-selling books, and helped some of the world's most admired companies. He has been a pioneer in creating successful businesses and emerging work trends for over twenty-five years.

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