I was discussing with a friend who runs his own software company. He was keen to devise a test to be able to recruit the best candidates for software development. And who according to him were the best candidates? The ones who are extremely sharp, particularly the ones who can crack puzzles instantly, those who believe that they are intelligent and the best.
I personally do not emphasize on testing the skills of the candidates. I look more for an attitude of learning. In the field of information technology, there is so much to learn that you can never know all. So I rarely test the knowledge of the people I interview. Even for those already working with me, I do not expect instant solutions when I ask them a solution to a technical problem. I am okay if he says, “I do not know, but let me look up and see if there is a solution”. And he may have to look up manuals, user groups, web articles, etc. There are some who feel awkward to say “I do not know if there is a solution” and will instantly say that there is no solution. I am in fact happier if the guy says that he does not know of an instant solution but will need to research”. A person who is ready to research is a person who can look at alternative solutions and is not “fixed” to only one solution.
And that is another very important quality I look for in a software professional – HUMILITY. Humility to say “I do not know, but let me look up and learn”. For that is what is most important in IT – not to know the solution but to be able to dig, research and find a solution. The knowledge out there is so vast that you need to be a seeker and not a know-all. That is where the real sharp people who think that they are the best can be serious failures. They may not have the humility to think that they may not know, and the vast field of IT can completely floor their ego.
Those are the best IT professionals who have the humility to say, “I probably don’t know some part of it, let me explore and find out”. It is the attitude which matters not the skills and knowledge. He who gives the right solutions may not always be the one who knows the best solution, but the one who has the attitude to find the right solution.