Some observations on the best hardware / software engineers I've worked with.
Contra to the "mountain dew and pizza" stereotype, most don't eat much junk food and many are somewhat hardcore athletes. Regular gym time and 4-8 mile runs common.
Most have degrees. Many have several. Degrees offer some evidence of intelligence, but what they *really* signal is, you can finish things and won't flake out after 6 months.
Many are married/coupled. Gay, straight, whatever, doesn't matter. Messy home life / chasing partners constantly is a huge drain on attention and focus.
Most have a very "blue collar" attitude to work, predicated on hard work, skills, not whining, and *delivering*, day in, day out, rain or shine, even when doing so isn't particularly fun or glamorous.
Think of the folks (mostly men, sadly) of NASA mission control: reliable, cool under stress, unfussy dress, competent, and focused on the work.

These are the people you need to do great things. Not showoffs, whiners, flakes, lazy, or unreliable people.
What's amazing is that almost no companies explicitly screen for this. I don't care whether you can code a red/black tree properly the first time. Having the tenacity and grit to dust off CLRS and *figure it out*, no matter what it takes or how hard - that's impressive.

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