The reading level for this article is All Levels

A recent report entitled “How Google Grows&ldots;and Grows&ldots;and Grows” stated that the 650 people that work at Google are the most passionate bunch of geeks in the high tech industry.  Google was also recently called the fastest growing company in history.  To mimic their growth and success, passion must be injected into every level of your organization.  The quickest and easiest way to do this is to hire passionate people. 

Passion is an easy thing to spot once you know where to look.  By understanding the 5 following characteristics you can develop an eye for passion and begin surrounding yourself with it.

Voluntarily Working Overtime

Passionate employees see the end of the work day as an interruption rather than a relief.  They often stay hours after work to complete their projects, and take work home on the weekends when co-workers nag them about working too hard.  To determine whether an employee has this during an interview, ask them the following question;

“Tell me about a time when you had an urgent project that couldn’t be completed by the end of your normal work day?  What was the situation and what did you do?”

Sounds too simple, right?  You’d be surprised at the responses you will get.  A passionate employee will be able to recall numerous projects that tended to run after hours.  By the way, hourly employees don’t count for this criteria.

Reading Books and Listening to Tapes

Passionate employees are consumed with making themselves better at what they do.  They are always trying to improve themselves and their companies.  During the interview, ask them the following question;

“What were the last 3 books that you read and why did you choose to read them?” 

A passionate employee should be able to list several titles that relate to their business or their position.  If they’re passionate about what they do, they’ll try to learn about how to do it better.  Many times this question will reveal that an employee is passionate about something entirely different than his or her career.  While this shouldn’t be a deal breaker, be aware that the employee will be consumed with something other than growing your business.

Spending Free Time on Business Growth

This is very similar to reading books, but can be seen in different outlets other than reading.  For example, spending a weekend at an industry conference or joining a professional networking and development organization.  Here’s a couple of questions you can ask to reveal this characteristic;

“What organizations are you a member of that aid in your professional development?”


“What activities, not mandated by your employer, have you done this past year to develop yourself professionally?”

Make sure you distinguish the resume builders from the truly passionate people.  Deeply probing around the previous questions will reveal the former from the latter.

Taking Every Opportunity to Advance the Business

A perfect example of this is the salesman that introduces himself to strangers in the line at the grocery store in the off chance that they might be a prospect.  When you find an employee that lives and breathes his profession, you’ve found a keeper.  Someone who isn’t an employee from 9 to 5, and a completely different person in the evening, but someone who genuinely loves what he does, and reflects it in every aspect of his life.  Someone obsessed with perfecting his trade. 

One of the easiest ways to determine this in an interview is to ask;

“Give me 4 to 6 ideas that you have had to grow your company.” 

Anyone obsessed with business growth will be able to rattle off dozens of ideas, and probably try to sell you on why they’ll work.  One of the most common answers that dispassionate employees give is “My responsibilities aren’t in business growth.”  If you’re a business owner or executive, you know that simply isn’t true.  Great ideas should come from all level of an organization and your front line employees should be suggesting them regularly.  Doesn’t it make sense that the people doing the job should be the one’s making recommendations on how to improve it?

Writing to Advance the Industry

If this exists, you’ve got a truly passionate employee.  Writing can be one of the hardest things for employees to do since most people aren’t born with Shakespearian writing skills.  But the quality of the writing isn’t what’s important, it’s the employees outward expression of their thoughts and theories about their industry which reveals their passion for it.  This one sounds easy, but here’s the question you would ask to reveal this trait;

“What things have you written to advance your business or your industry?”

A single passionate employee with the right skills can take a company from good to great.  Assemble an entire team of passionate people and you’ve got the makings of a world class workforce.  Start building habits today to hire passion into your organization and soon, people may start calling your company the next Google.

This Business article was written by Mike Nacke on 8/11/2005

Mike Nacke is the Director of Development for PrideStaff, a national staffing and recruiting firm and is an expert at building world class workforces. For more information on how to attract and retain passionate employees visit