Plugging in Information Seekers
volume 3 number 2
We recently heard about a simple interview test one high-tech company uses to separate information seekers from assumption makers. We highly recommend it - it's fair, job related, and effective.
Ask candidates to imagine a friend who knows almost nothing about computers or software. The friend has just purchased a software package that doesn't run, so he calls the candidate for help. What are the first five questions the candidate would ask him? Good answers include the following:
"Is the computer plugged in properly and receiving power?" The question isn't really condescending (it happens to the best of us), particularly if the friend is a novice user. Better yet, it demonstrates that the candidate isn't making even the most obvious assumptions - exactly the kind of response you want from a strong information seeker.
"What did you expect and what is it doing now?" Once again, this questions avoids assumptions and keeps information flowing between the user and the candidate/support tech.
We especially like this approach because it's real, not contrived or manipulative. Plus, unlike hypothetical software, it works!