So, What Do You Like About Your Job?

As I’ve been moving at a bit of warp speed for the last few months, I decided it was time to dial things down a bit when my most recent project wrapped. To keep myself busy, I’ve been working on life enrichment projects, these ones based in career development.

I’ve met up with a few people for coffee, tea or lunch, with the sole purpose of hearing their story. Normally, being a relator-type, I tend to want to pose deeper-reaching questions akin to that of a psychologist. However, the people I’m meeting with are not paying me as such (why would they? I’m not certified), nor do we know each other well enough to speak intimately as close friends. Thus, I sip my tea and pose seemingly surface questions. These questions have surprisingly been yielding much more informed, emotional responses than I expected.

Traditionally deemed, “informational interviews,” these quick 30 to 45-minute sit-downs consist of very basic questions. Sometimes, they’re so basic, I feel like I’m 20 again, interviewing executives in the hopes of determining a career path for myself. However, this time, I’m looking for the chance to pick the brain of someone “in the know” for no other reason than to seek deeper insight into their world.

These are the questions I’ve been asking…

Tell me what your day-to-day looks like.
What do you like most about your job?
What do you like least about your job?
Where do you excel in your job?
Where do you need help?
What types of personalities do you see excelling at your job?
How did you get into this particular field?
What, if any, recommendations do you have for someone trying to get into your field? What about someone mid-career, making a transition?

The answers? Never as dull or boring as you think they may be. In fact, I often find people ruminating on a particular question for the bulk of the conversation, continuously revisiting the how/what or why.

What is a bit shocking, though, is the fact that only about half of the people I talk to can give me a description of what their day-to-day looks like. They frequently don’t give more than a one-word or two-word answer. And if they do, the confused half is spouting back to me their job description, which if I know anything about their job, is not terribly accurate.

Worse yet, or most saddening, they cannot tell you what they enjoy about their job. Recently, one such informational interview yielded a large pause after being tossed that seemingly basic question. An eternity, or 30 seconds later, his response came. “Allison, I’ve been doing this job for 31 years and no one, I mean no one, has ever asked me that question. I…I don’t know. I’ve gotta think about that.”

His silence and bewilderment spoke volumes to me.

A week later, when I ran into him again, he told me he was still considering this question.

Wading through surface-y questions and braving the ever-so-dry “job description” answer, I’ve found informational interviews an absolutely fascinating study in humanity and adulthood.

This such study into human behavior/nature/daily life is one I would highly recommend to anyone — whether you’re searching for a new career, or you just want to get to know your friends, colleagues, or the world better. In any case, it’s a great way to spend a few hours, and an even better excuse to drink tea.