Do Your Interview Questions Discriminate For or Against Your Needs?

I was reading How Would You Design Bill Gates’s Bathroom? and realized that Microsoft discriminates for people who are visionaries, people who see the big picture. When they do this, they ignore the other types of people necessary for successful products and projects: the stabilizer, the firefighter, and the catalyst.Keirsey calls these temperaments by slightly different names:

Rational: People who have a vision for the big picture (visionary)
Guardians: People who can complete things (stabilizer)
Artisans: People who solve problems without believing in or following the One True Path (firefighter)
Idealists: People who are empathic and use that empathy to create communities (catalysts)

All of us have access to all of these parts of our personalities, and most of us have a strongly preferred temperament. And, many of the people who work in software development are visionaries. When Microsoft (or your company) discriminates for more visionaries, consider whether you’re helping the company complete their work successfully. Many visionaries have trouble completing the last little bits of work, things the stabilizers wouldn’t consider NOT doing. Visionaries think they have the one best idea, and that there is a specific path for fixing a problem, unlike the firefighters who choose a reasonable path that comes to the necessary conclusion. Although visionaries intellectually understand the concept of empathy, they wouldn’t consider taking the time to create a community, unlike the catalysts.

A team of only visionaries has trouble creating and maintaining successful products. Microsoft’s products are market-successful, and too often create difficulty for the people using them. The good news is that we have whole industries fixing holes in Microsoft’s products. If Microsoft didn’t tilt its hiring so heavily to the visionaries, we wouldn’t need those industries.All of your interview questions discriminate for or against certain kinds of candidates. Just be sure you’ve considered personality diversity, not superficial diversity when you create interview questions and auditions.

One Reply to “Do Your Interview Questions Discriminate For or Against Your Needs?”

  1. ! Very well said. Intellectual sexiness is a really a fad, its not the complete picture. What is important is not one quality but always “the right mix”

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