“FIX it,” I told the job applicant, then started my timer.
I was interviewing applicants for a computer technician position. Before I asked them about their background and the usual interview questions, I put them in front of a computer unit that I had purposely sabotaged -- nothing too difficult to fix -- a loose memory chip here, a disconnected cable there. In order to get to the next stage of the interview, they first had to successfully power up the unit.
I expected the guy in front of me to be the fastest out of the entire batch of applicants I had for the day. After all, he had a very thick resume filled with certifications of attending this or that seminar, on top of his college transcript and diploma. I thought this guy must be good.
It turns out he was one of the worst.
He spent close to an hour inspecting the unit, fiddling with this and that, but he never got it to turn on. Finally, I had to tell him to give up as I couldn’t spend all day just waiting for him. The guy who got the job didn’t have a thick resume, just a normal kid with a pimply face. He fixed the unit in less than 10 minutes and is now my senior technician. He continues to learn and grow and can now fix things that I don’t even know how to fix.
Many years back, I applied for a teaching job in a prominent college in Manila. I thought to teach some graphics editing with Adobe Photoshop, which I had been using for many years -- as a hobby, but also professionally to produce fliers, logos and so on to personal clients. But the interviewer took one look at my degree and said, “Oh you’re a computer science graduate. You can teach web programming.”
And I said, “No, the web was very new when I was already a senior in school. I never got to study it. I don’t even know HTML.” (HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language -- the basic building block of all web pages). The interviewer just smiled and then asked me to do a demo teaching session.
A few weeks later, I got the job and to my surprise, learned that they had assigned me a subject where I had to teach HTML. I literally had to grab a fellow new teacher and said, “Hey, you gotta teach me this stuff.” She graciously sat down with me and started typing and talking and showing me enough of the basics and pointed me to a couple of tutorial sites. I quickly scanned through what she shared and organized the key elements in my head.
A few minutes later, I walked into class and said, “Hey guys, let’s learn some HTML.” Little did they suspect that their teacher only learned the material a few minutes ahead of them.
Email me at email@example.com. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.