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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is an author and engineer who enjoys building and automating data integration solutions. Andy is co-host of the Data Driven podcast. Andy is no longer updating this blog. His current blog is

Business Losses and "I Don't Know"

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Published Friday, October 1, 2010 8:00 AM by andyleonard

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V said:

Andy, good post.  I agree completely with the "I don't know" issue, something I also look for in a candidate, or as a candidate, I keep my ears open for the appropriate question to respond I don't know.  However, there's a part 2 that I think is also important.  As a candidate, I like to immediately follow up with "but here's what I would do to try to find the answer if I needed to".  As an interviewer I like to ask "how would you go about discovering the answer if you needed it to complete a task?".  I feel this is just as important because it gives insight to a person's problem-solving skills, or lack thereof, and you might be surprised with the answer.  One person may answer "I'd find a different way".  That's good, but what if there were no other way?  Are they avoiding the problem?  Follow up questions will reveal.  Or someone may answer, "I would ask my co-worker/help files/newsgroups".  That's also good, you ~should~ use other people as resources, but what if your co-worker, etc, doesn't know either?  Let me see some more ideas of how you would research.  If the person just keeps asking others and doesn't "play" with the problem themselves, it indicates a lack of curiosity that is often essential for good problem solving.  Neither of those answers is bad necessarily, (I've certainly had to "find a different way" myself, but it's usually not the first option), but will open up the possibilities that the person believes he/she can take, and that reveals a lot.

October 4, 2010 7:51 AM

Shannon Lowder said:

This is one of the biggest hurdles I've had to overcome. When I was just starting out, it always felt like companies only wanted know-it-alls. Over time you realize they are just looking for the best fit, not a perfect fit. Perfect rarely exists in reality.

October 5, 2010 9:48 AM

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