Tuesday, February 13, 2018

How would you answer the question "Are you smart" on the job interview?

I would answer with the following:

I'm smart enough to know that raw intelligence alone isn't enough to solve anything serious.  Other things matter just as much, if not more so.  In particular:

  • Learning is about acquiring knowledge and wisdom from others. Wisdom and knowledge gives you the background necessary to find connections between seemingly unrelated concepts -- that is where the true breakthroughs often happen. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "Every man I meet is in some way my superior, and in that I learn from him."  (apologies for the quote not being gender neutral)
  • Collaboration is about harnessing diverse skill sets so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Any serious project requires a serious collaboration.
  • Perseverance is about not giving up when the going gets tough.  No one is smart or wise enough to anticipate all the problems that the world might throw at you.  Smarts without the will to succeed generally doesn't result in much.
Author: Yisong Yue, Machine Learning Professor @Caltech