I've been tasked with looking for new student workers at my current institute. In a 2 step interviewing process.
I look for students, and do the first 'informal' interview to weed out in appropriate potential employees, being a sort of gatekeeper. Though my opinion of the worker essentially guarantees them the job.
My boss does the final formal interview and makes the final decision who gets the job.
We generally work with typically mechanical engineering related projects, though this often strays into many other disciplines...programming, electronics, simulation, control, etc
We have an employee who has been working with us for some time, however they generally don't 'live' the engineering experience that we expect from a passionate student. The current student works the bare minimum time wise, which isn't necessarily a bad thing (time at home, is of course for yourself and not work), however since they don't bother to learn anything beyond what they learned in their studies (on their own or at work) we're not getting any improvement from them. On paper this student was ideal. Practically however, they are not.
Because of this we are not going to renew the contract and are now looking, as afore mentioned.
We want to find a student who is passionate about engineering. Who lives it in their life through and through like the rest of us in team. We all work on our little projects at home, constantly find new things to talk about and show off to each other, all get trapped reading wikipedia and watching machining videos on youtube.
The new students grades are completely unimportant. But interest is paramount. We want to find someone who builds things, or atleast reads and tries new things (perhaps they don't have the budget to build, but they've installed all the free software and learn on their own). Someone who if I give them an assignment, they'll figure it out and not immediately give up because the institute doesn't have the exact correct tool, or software.
I have many candidates that are on paper really good, but I am unsure how to find these ideal qualities. I've considered asking for public githubs, or some kind of portfolio of projects they've made. However although I build constantly little random projects at home for fun, I don't even have a public anything to show such things off and can't fairly ask this of such students either (in my opinion) and I don't want to pressure a potential student into thinking it's a requirement and them either give up or unnecessarily in a rush try to produce something.
What are things to look for, and specific questions to ask during these interviews, to find the kind of passionate student who on paper may look bad (poor grades for example), but is heavily invested in learning all directions of engineering, or isn't afraid to learn something new on their own and weed away those who are 'experts on paper' but don't know which direction a screw driver should be turned.