Last week I was lucky enough to be included in panel interview for a new WooCommerce Ninja. The potential ninja did very well and talked about how he got into WordPress, working with clients, and debugging code. But it wasn't these questions that really interested me – I don't care about coding style, programming languages, or the tools that he uses. All of those can be learned on the fly. The quality that I care about more than all of the rest is passion.
Someone who's technically skilled can certainly solve problems and they'll probably do what they were hired to do. But do they go the extra mile? Do they make contacts to open new business avenues? Do they fix bugs or do they report them to the another department? Do they think about ways to make the company more efficient? What about when they meet someone at conference; do they introduce themselves as “A WordPress Developer” or do they say “I build WordPress sites for the best agency in town!”?
Someone who's competent but lacks passion will only work just hard enough to not get fired and I don't want to work with that person. I want the person who thinks like an entrepreneur. He's always questioning his assumptions, he's thinking of ways to expand the business, and he wants to learn everything.
Two years ago GitHub exploded and changed the world of programming. It took online collaboration from a complex process with varying standards and made it universal and simple. Never before has it been this easy to work with another developer across the world. Even if you don't work with another developer you can store your own (open source) code on GitHub.
So how does this relate to passion? Easy. I want to work with someone who cares about the space they work in. I want to work with someone who commits any customizations they made to the code back to the original repo. It takes 10 extra minutes but it makes the community stronger. And maybe it's just the yoga instructor in me but I want to work with someone who picks up a piece of trash when they walk through the park. That's all you have to do; when you find a bug (yes I'm including typos as bugs), press the edit button or fork button, and fix it. Or at least make the developer aware of the problem by opening a new issue.
It's Not About The Size (Of Your GitHub Profile)
I don't need to see that you've worked on 500 different projects. You don't need to work every hour of every day on an open source project. That's not the point. Show me that you're brave enough to publish code. Writing code like any other type of writing is a frightening process because you'll worry that people will criticize you – and people will criticize you! Accept that.
One of the things that passion does is it makes you brave enough to conquer those fears. Accept the criticism and learn what you can from it. Forget the rest. I wouldn't be surprised if 1/2 of my patches are either rejected or modified. Sometimes the developer doesn't want to take the project in that direction – or they make some suggestions and the patch has to be modified. Either way I learn.
What I Don't Care About
I don't care about a pedigree. I don't care about your previous job title or salary. And I certainly don't care about your Klout score. Just show me that you're passionate and willing to learn. I know we can make an amazing product if we just care.