Below is an answer to this question that I posted to Quora on July 13, 2015.
Hmmm, a programmer that spends their weekends supporting pet causes is “passionate,” but that wouldn’t necessarily matter to every hiring manager.
“Are you a passionate person, Mrs. Programmer?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Great, any ol’ passion will do!”
Now, if a company that builds software for pet shelters or veterinary offices interviews Mrs. Programmer, you have a higher chance that the values of the company match the values of the potential employee.
Want the employee to over-deliver? Go the extra mile? Come in on the weekend when the server goes down? Fly to a customer site as a moment’s notice to help out?
Better hope the passions of that employee align with the goals of the company.
The company that has a strong understanding of what values drive their current teams should use language that pushes those values in all communications to the employee market — build an employer brand that clearly shows what values (passions) the company is looking for.
Instead of passion, I prefer terms like values or driving forces.
What will cause the employee to take action? What is the driving force behind their work?
Look for values of the person that parallel the values of the work the company does. Especially for smaller, fast-moving teams.
Yes, experience is important. Skills (whether or not they have experience using them) could be more important. Make sure you know what experience and skills are needed for the job. Not a generic list that you copied off of Monster Jobs, but a real list that takes the job and your existing team into account. Ask interview questions that ask for specific examples of the experience they have and evidence of the skills they say they have.
Stop reading now if you have a handle on all of this hiring stuff and share your magic with me. No, please do. We need it. It’s tough out here.
My suggestion: Instead of winging it, use the potential employee’s past performance to help you understand their future performance. Learn HOW they will work and WHY they will work. Based on their answers – not your perception of them. Combine that with soft skills and NOW we’re talking.
Large corporations have access to tools that let them do just that. Very few smaller businesses know that those tools exist. They do. I left a 20-year career in big Corp to get these tools to teams out here that need them.
If IBM makes one bad hire, it won’t be fun for them, but they’ll be ok.
But if YOU make a bad hire, what will it cost you?! 30% of their first year’s salary according to the U.S. Department of Labor. How about lost time? How about sanity? How about impact to the current employee morale?
I would rather you spend energy on fixing that big customer issue or pouring into your current team. Not winging it on hiring when there are tools you can use.
Call me and let’s get you some help. You find the candidates. We get you the information you need before you make that hiring decision.