Why You Should Stop Writing Job Descriptions

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Steve Jobs

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I have a coaching client who hired a person and didn’t give them a detailed job description. The new person is writing their own. He has goals and responsibilities, but he’s writing the details himself.

They meet every week to track progress and set the path forward.

Ignite passion and tap potential by allowing people to write their own job description.


Job descriptions are distracting documents that dilute relationships, at least in the beginning. They’re often written to cover all the bases. If an employee screws up, you can point to an obscure sentence in their job description to hold them accountable.

Purpose not duties:

Explain purpose before discussing daily practices.

Purpose drives passion.

Tell potential employees how the job matters. It’s impossible to feel passion about something that doesn’t matter. Give them the opportunity to feel they might matter if they take the job.


Explain responsibilities only after discussing purpose. Invite them to figure out the path.

  1. Engage in frequent conversations when they’re first hired.
  2. Maintain focus on purpose.
  3. Align, authorize behaviors.
  4. Protect against scope creep.


Interviews go wrong when conversations focus on job descriptions.

Don’t explain duties at first. Talk about them, not you.


I’ve seen job interviews where the interviewer did most of the talking.

Listen to their story.

  1. What would you like to talk about?
  2. What are high and low points of your life?
  3. Tell me about your best friends.
  4. What are your volunteer activities?
  5. Who has helped you the most? How?
  6. Disappointments? Joys?
  7. What would you like to ask me?

In what context could you allow someone to write their own job description?

What interview questions help you understand people?