Beyond Skills: Harnessing Passion as the Cornerstone of Successful Hiring

I’m seated at a desk in my company headquarters, right in front of the bustling kitchen where people constantly come and go. My MacBook Pro is open, and I’m enjoying a sip of coffee while composing the final email for the day. Suddenly, I hear a familiar voice from behind calling my name. It’s my good friend Bob, someone I deeply respect and admire. Bob oversees Corporate Communications and recently participated in an internal PR event I organized in Europe. He takes a seat beside me and asks:

“How do you go about hiring employees?”


His question catches me off guard, and I reply, “Why do you ask?” His response leaves me speechless. “Your team is amazing.” Without thinking, I spontaneously replied, “Passion.”

Although I’ve hired numerous individuals, it’s the first time someone has asked me that question. Bob makes me contemplate what all these individuals have in common, and without a doubt, passion is the foremost quality I seek when interviewing a candidate.

However, ‘passion’ is a highly subjective term. How does one define, identify, and select candidates based on it?

Based on my experience, passionate individuals possess the following characteristics:

  • They focus on the “why” behind their actions, not just the “how.”
  • They openly share their motivations and what drives them.
  • They radiate energy and show unwavering dedication.
  • They are not afraid to express their emotions.
  • They are willing to take risks.
  • They have a knack for spreading contagious positivity.

Yes, I seek individuals with knowledge in their field, but they must also be willing to learn and go the extra mile. Passionate individuals prioritize discussing their life purpose before highlighting their qualifications. They are enthusiastic and radiate contagious positivity, making others feel uplifted. On the other hand, failing to recognize passion in a candidate can lead to disastrous consequences. The havoc caused by a wrong hire can be immense.

So, as an interviewer, how can you encourage candidates to exhibit their passion? It is incredibly helpful to start by articulating the company’s purpose and expressing my enthusiasm for the job. Passionate individuals respond immediately to the concept of meaning because it drives them. If your goal resonates with them, you’ll see it right away, not just in their words but also in their body language. That spark and connection are what I seek in a potential candidate.

While passion is a vital quality to look for in candidates, it’s important to remember that it should not be the sole determining factor when hiring decisions. Alongside passion, several other crucial aspects need to be considered to ensure a successful and well-rounded team:

It is essential to assess the candidate’s level of knowledge and skill relevant to the role they are being considered for. This involves evaluating their qualifications, experience, technical abilities, and any specific expertise required for the position. A candidate should demonstrate the necessary competencies to perform tasks and responsibilities effectively.

Assessing a candidate’s fit involves determining their compatibility with the team dynamics and company culture. A good fit means the candidate shares similar values, work ethics, and communication styles that align with the existing team and organization. This ensures a harmonious working environment and facilitates collaboration and productivity.

Look for genuinely willing candidates to go above and beyond their basic job requirements. This involves assessing their motivation, dedication, and work ethic. A committed employee will demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility, reliability, and drive to consistently achieve goals and deliver results.

Willingness to learn
Adaptability and a desire to learn are crucial in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving work landscape. Look for candidates with a growth mindset, an eagerness to acquire new knowledge and skills, and the ability to embrace change. A candidate open to continuous learning and development will contribute to the long-term success of the team and the organization.


Hiring the wrong person can be disastrous.

It jeopardizes the work and the morale of your entire team, not to mention your reputation as a manager. Hiring demands complete focus, thorough preparation, and substantial time. Unfortunately, many managers fail to invest enough time in this critical aspect of their role.

Approach hiring as you would approach giving a presentation to your boss or speaking in front of an audience of important individuals. Preparation and thoughtfulness at every stage of the process are essential.

It all begins with the job description and posting. You can’t expect your HR team to help you find exceptional candidates if you provide a vague or inaccurate description of the role.

You can save yourself a lot of frustration by answering these simple questions:

  1. Have I clearly defined the job specifications?
  2. Have I effectively communicated my requirements to the HR team?
  3. Return to question 1 and repeat until you have clarity.


Always strive to hire someone better than yourself.

Some managers have expressed concerns such as, “If they are too clever, I risk losing my job.” I urge you not to settle for less and not to fear leading a team of brilliant and dedicated individuals; instead, be proud of it. Your employees have the power to elevate you, making you a believable and respected manager. If you believe in your team, they will reciprocate that belief in you. Show genuine interest in their growth, coach them to unleash their best potential, and provide them with a clear purpose. The results will be nothing short of magical.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and hire exceptional teams. Teams of great individuals who are energetic, passionate, and always eager to improve themselves. Prioritize passion when hiring next. Because for a manager, there is no greater satisfaction than building an outstanding team.


Remember, “You are only as good as the people you hire.”