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Only on HN could someone argue that trying to select smart employees for technical jobs is a bad idea.



So the thing is, "smart" is a pretty sloppy term. Furthermore, claiming that measuring this "smartness" in a small-sample, unrelated set of tasks (a relaxed, 30 question test), and that this "smartness" on the test would transfer to "ability to write good code well and work in a team" is utter crap.

Doing well on a test is usually an indicator that you do well on that kind of test. Even good psychometrics tend to fail with calibration problems - the vast majority of these tests were written and calibrated using psychology undergraduates at western universities. That's a significant sampling problem. [0]

So I'm personally not opposed to selecting for "smart" employees. But I do think that the belief that a short test actually selects for that kind of smartness in any meaningful way is sloppy thinking.

0: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/the-weir...


I would much rather work with a team of people of average intelligence, with humility, work ethic, honest enthusiasm, empathy, etc., than with a team of brilliant people with none of those things. That goes double for technical jobs where you're building a complicated product over the long term. We're not here to solve the Putnam and go home. We're delivering value, and that involves solving a hard problem simply because there is no easier way, not because hard problems are inherently worth working on.


You people just read your own prejudices into everything.


So according to you, doing mediocre on an IQ test makes someone not smart, right?

What about people with dyslexia (such as myself)?

What about people who have test-anxiety?

They aren't arguing that hiring smart people is a bad idea, they're saying being dismissive and discriminatory is a bad idea (and illegal, in the US - violation of the ADA).


So, you think that hiring smart people is a good idea, and you think that people who do well on IQ tests are smart, and you think that people who are not smart do poorly on IQ tests, but you are adding that there are some additional smart people who don't do well on IQ tests, and you are rightfully concerned because you consider yourself to be one of them, and you think there are laws that put the burden of uncovering these people on private employers? I'm not sure that's true, but anyway, just wanted to clarify.

Out of curiosity, this is a serious question: are you a programmer and if so does dyslexia cause you problems coding? lots of library functions can have confusingly similar names and spellings for me, and I don't have any reading problems.


If I may pick a small nit. People who get good grades are "smart", people who score highly on IQ tests are "intelligent" - those characteristics are essentially orthogonal. It is generally easier for intelligent people to get smart, but they can just as easily get stupid.

Generally speaking, good developers are both smart and intelligent.




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