I've been performing technical interviews for about a year now, and I have learned a lot about what to look for in a candidate. The thing I'm struggling with most, however, is how to gauge a candidate's motivation level.
You can determine someone's technical proficiency by asking them technical questions and evaluating their answers. Is there an objective way to determine how motivated someone is/will be?
Here are some things I've tried. Some work with some candidates and not with others:
Do you work on (field-related) projects outside of work?
This one sounds like it would work, but sometimes people are really into their current job and pour all of their effort into that job and not side projects. Should candidates be penalized for this? The other extreme is there too: candidates spend all their time on side projects and don't concentrate on their full-time job.
What technical blogs/books have you read recently?
This one is actually one of the most helpful ones. If you care about what you're doing, you'll keep up with the technologies you are working with and know what's going on in your field.
These are really the only two that provide any insight. Even then, it's a limited view into the person's motivation. Even if they answer both of those questions positively, they may spend too much time on those things and not on their work.
So, any suggestions on how to gauge a candidate's motivation level? Or is it just something you have to gamble on? Is the only way to determine this to call references and ask?