That is, what matters more than a potential hire's passion is whether the company stokes passion:
- Does the company have an inspiring mission?
- Do managers encourage their employees to go the extra mile and give them the resources and autonomy to do so?
- Is failure acceptable so that people don't feel punished for a well-intentioned (and well-reasoned!) attempt to be helpful?
- Are people rewarded for taking initiative?
- Can employees see the meaning of their work and the impact they make?
Note that all of these questions have everything to do with the culture of the company and nearly nothing to do with the employee. Some companies think that if they just hire a critical mass of passionate people that things will get done, but this is hardly going to ring true unless the culture, and especially the management, makes getting things done a possibility.
What really facilitates the benefits of having a passionate employee is rolling out the red CARPET:
Challenges -- an employee can use his/her skills to the fullest, such that (s)he must do her best every day
Autonomy -- an employee has the freedom to act in accordance with his/her passion
Resources -- an employee has the wherewithal to go the extra mile
Professional development -- an employee has opportunities to learn and grow in/with the company
Enthusiasm -- an employee can share his/her enthusiasm with others and have it reciprocated
Tangible impact -- an employee can tell that what (s)he is doing is meaningful and valuable
Without these six items, an applicant's passion matters only with regard to how miserable (s)he will be at the job, as there is nothing worse for a passionate employee than having their gung-ho spirit crushed in a choking office culture.
Thus, rather than hiring for passion, a company's primary focus needs to be on rolling out the red CARPET to create a passion-rich environment for its employees. After that, the firm need only look for applicants who fit the company culture, secure in the knowledge that any such hire it makes will be a innovative contributor.