The term, "hungry," is something I picked up from David. It describes someone who has an insatiable passion, and it's a characteristic that has been really valuable in my life.
It's also a quality that I've tried to look for in others, but so far, it's been difficult to pinpoint in conversation alone. Here are a few techniques I've tried (with mixed success). If you're reading this, I'd love your help with this list, which I'm calling "The Hungry Stomach List."
1. Looks for Tangents
The premise is that a passionate person is going to be familiar with topics that are tangential to the thing she's interested in. So if a person says she's interested in "icon design," does she know about dribbble? Has a favorite icon library? Designed any icons herself?
2. Desires to Learn
A desire to learn is a great passion to have. A person who loves learning should have a history of not just being in good learning environments but also of seeking them out. Did he frequently take on a significant amount of responsibility? Does he do things outside of school/work to advance his education?
3. Desires to Improve
Some people love knowledge. But hungry people don't just horde facts, they use them to inform and improve. A person who desires to improve is aware of, if not humbled by, what they don't know. They don't necessarily need to be the best, but they must want to be better on every subsequent attempt.
I'm at a loss of what questions to ask in this situation.
I'm sure there are other key characteristics of a hungry person, but I haven't found any good ways to flush them out in conversation. The best way to find out if someone is hungry is to spend a lot of time with them, but we don't always have that luxury.