Thursday, May 01, 2008

How to hire a genius

I’ve always been fascinated by the whole concept of “intelligence” and how IQ is measured and applied when byou want to hoire someone with a genius IQ.

Today’s measures of intelligence are sadly lacking, and the standard Simon Binet IQ tests only provide a rough guestimate of functional intelligence, making it tough to verify genuis during a job interview.

The average IQ is artificially adjusted to 100, and the average college student has a SB IQ of 120, while the typical graduate student clocks-in between 125 and 135.

The threshold for genius is arbitrarily set at 140.

For below average intellect, clinicians used to use the terms moron, imbecile and idiot, but these terms have become offensive over time, and have been replaced with more politically correct labels:

  • 141 > - Genius or near genius
  • 120 - 140 - Very superior intelligence
  • 110 - 119 - Superior intelligence
  • 90 - 109 - Normal or average intelligence
  • 80 - 89 - Dullness (Moron)
  • 70 - 79 - Borderline deficiency (Imbecile)
  • Under 70 - Feeble-minded (an Idiot)

In my line of work (guru computer consulting), it’s my job to find the most intelligent people in the industry, people with IQ at the genius level, but identifying genius is fraught with challenges.
Hence, we have one of the most difficult job screening processes in the database industry, and we look for evidence of genius (graduating from schools that have a high number of geniuses, evidence of extraordinary achievement), but we must balance this with the social and interpersonal skills that are often lacking in extremely smart database experts.

In the geniuses I’ve known personally, they often suffer from a variety of neurotic disorders including borderline personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Asperger's syndrome.

Genius employees are easy to spot but very difficult to formally define. Even today, we don’t understand the machinations of the human brain, and we have not come far since the 1880’s.

One of my favorite books about genius is Dr. Oliver Sack’s masterwork: “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat”, a great investigation into the mysteries of the human intellect.

Click here to read my full notes on hiring geniuses.