In thinking further about the Po Bronson piece that I liked to yesterday (this item), I realized that I had more to say about it. When I interview candidates for various positions, pretty much the sole factor I look for is passion about the job. I find that by hiring people who (aside from competence) seem to love their jobs, I rarely go wrong. I want the sysadmin who’s installed every Linux distribution on their PC at home one time or another, the Web developer who has the personal Web site, or the programmer who is always finding new projects to tinker with. Obviously hiring such people is not risk free, but I find that the odds of their doing a good job is much better than the odds if you hire the person who checked out a salary survey while in college and discovered that working in IT pays pretty well. Not only that, but I’ll probably find the people who are into this whole computer thing to be more enjoyable to work with on a day to day basis than people one might derisively refer to as clock punchers.
The passion vs obligation equation is completely separate from willingness to work hard (or long hours) as well. I love what I do, but I don’t have much interest in regularly working 50 or 60 hours a week, and I know people who don’t really touch a computer when they go home who work insane hours. Give me the passionate person any day of the week. They’ll be the one who remembers something cool they picked up on their own that saves a week of work on the project, or who find that great open source package that saves you from having to write your own logging system or connection pool.