My first few hires were three students from Indian Institute of Science who had no experience in programming. With a bit of help from me, they built a SQL database engine prototype in less than 6 months. That was in mid 80s. One of them later joined Microsoft (in the first batch of hires from India). and another went and built an EJB Server from scratch for another company.
Since then, I have been mostly hiring fresh, promising students, right out of the colleges and investing a few months guiding them, personally. The results have been amazing.
So if you are part of the software industry, look for promising people with the following attributes:
- Curiosity – Always questioning everything and never stop wondering, what if…
- Ability to learn fast
- An attitude of “Can Do”.
- Ability to persist undaunted in the face of failure.
- An urge to create – make something, small or big.
- A certain intelligence about everything around them (not just the subjects they are studying)
- A healthy relationship of people and things
Once a friend asked me why I don’t like aptitude tests. The main reason is that these tests can not find people with any mix of these skills. They are more like filters than tools for discovering amazing people to work with.