Is it what you know or how you know? Over the last two months, we here at IQMS have been interviewing for a number of positions within the company. Certainly, a high unemployment rate means there are quite a few people looking for work these days. So how do we find the right people for the job? It is a daunting task for sure.
Our Human Resources Department screens and reviews resumes and then schedules interviews for the chosen candidates. Interviews are a team effort and usually two to three of us interview the candidate together. Our questions are prepared in advance and are designed to discover the quality and character of each applicant. Of course, we want to know about their skill sets and what they have accomplished in their career, but more importantly, we look for the process they use to arrive at conclusions.
It is one thing to be able to learn the EnterpriseIQ product or, as we say, "the software." It is another matter entirely to "get it." In other words, it's not always what you know, it's how you know. You may be great at navigating and learning how to find the right module, but do you have the right problem statement? Is the customer calling in to technical support describing a symptom or the actual problem? Do you have the right questions to ask?
For instance, your child is not feeling well and the doctor asks, "what is the child's temperature?" You respond, "I don't know, but the room is 78 degrees." Are you any closer to a solution? Of course not. In fact, you can't even tell me what the problem is from this example. Where do you go from here? Certainly more questions need to be asked and most of us would understand this. But what are the right questions? In what order should we proceed?
So how does one learn from a one or two hour interview if someone can "get it?" Well, for one thing, we are looking for the people who understand that asking the right questions can deliver information that will allow you to drill down to the root cause. Don't always ask if it is "plugged in" before you know what it does or doesn't do. Ask: "How is it supposed to perform? What characteristics should it exhibit? Does this effect all or only some?" It seems to me that in my 30 years of problem solving, for every question or statement I hear, there are several questions I have to ask for clarification and further detail before I offer any solutions.
So to find the right employee requires research, planning and evaluation. The skills are about "what you know:" your education, your work experience and the tools and resources you possess. The "how you know" is more about the process you will apply. For me, it has always been to observe and make note of what I see, listen to what is happening, establish a baseline for reference and move forward empowered with the knowledge that no matter what the problem, I know how to proceed toward the true root cause.
I was once asked, "what is the most important question to ask when solving a problem?" My answer has remained unchanged: "It's the one you forgot to ask!" Finding talented people who understand "how you know" is just as critical as learning "what they know." We can teach skills, but teaching attitude and common sense is not so easy. The world is full of talent, but not everyone knows how to use it.