Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How many years of experience do you have?

That's the question typically asked in interviews for any job, barring the situations when you're just fresh out into the job market.

Two parts of experience: applied skills and knowledge (in the context of the domain one is seeking to get a job in). Of course, the two are entwined and one helps the other. Knowledge would rely more on the applied skills than the other way round. So the greater the application of skills, the greater the knowledge.

So here are some issues in measuring 'experience'.

When testing a person during the interview, a great deal depends on the quality of the question itself. And of course quality of question depends on the interviewer's application of skills in turn. If one hasn't spent a significant time applying skills, then one's quality of questions would reflect that. That will also determine the quality of the interview.

And since interviews depend more on exchange of words, it is a challenge for both the parties to capture the 'applicability' into words - whether in questions or answers.

Experience is also a 'stock' question. Like, "How much you have?" And while experience is about applied skills and knowledge, a good measure of 'applied skills' would be how the stock turns into fluid/dynamic state. Again, words might not necessarily suffice. For application spans time and can be better observed in/through action than through a description in words.

Also, since two businesses are bound to be in different and unique situations, the stock of applied skills needs to adjust to these situations. How does one take a measure of such 'adjustment'?

If the organization isn't keen on getting a good measure of your 'applied skills', 3 dominant possibilities: 1) you are going to do the clerical, the repetitive and the laborious, 2) the organization has mastered the art of extracting the 'difficult measurement of applied skills' out of the words people use, 3) the one responsible for interviewing is inept.