When you get inside a company that really wants to hire the best and has no interest in average talent, a common phrase comes up whenever you discuss the merits of a candidate for any role:
"Are they passionate about what they do?"
It's an interesting area to explore, because with this type of company or hiring manager, simply being able to do the job well isn't enough. Instead, the focus on passion turns to what the candidate in question does to expand their knowledge, skills and abilities in their area of expertise - on their own time..
Is that fair? Not to the clockwatcher, but let's face it - you're probably doing them a favor if you want passion and care enough about it to probe during the interview. After all, if passion is part of what you need, if you don't screen for it during the process, you'll have a bad fit, and that likely leads to a relationship erosion over time. Better to ask for it now.
What questions can you ask related to passion? Here are three I like:
--How do you stay up to date in your field outside of work? (looking for a real thirst for cutting edge material without regard to the time that it takes..)
--How have you used what you learn outside of work to get better at what you do for a living? (always nice to see someone put the "book learning" to work in their job to stand out from the crowd)
--Tell me the biggest project you've chased and delivered on related to your career as a <fill in the blank> outside of work? (looking not only for the candidate seeking knowledge outside of work, but projects that show an entrepreneurial streak).
Is there any doubt that the ability to innovate in your company is directly linked to the passion your talent has for their areas of expertise?
PS - if you interview with me, don't even try to fake me out on passion. Like style, I know it when I see it..