Abstract Thought

How do you know someone is capable of this? Everyone likes to think they have the big picture perspective but some people’s pictures are bigger than others.

A good indication of a technical individual being a good abstract thinker is what extra-curricular pursuits they have particularly if those pursuits are artistically inclined. Even better is if those pursuits are being monetized.

When interviewing people, I look for intelligence above all else (I happen to define ‘intelligence’ as seeing relationships between apparently unconnected things, i.e. abstract thinking). When you’re talking to an such a thinker, the conversation will meander between a variety of subjects which may ultimately bear no resemblance to the initial conversation. The topics of each subject will however be linked at an abstract level.

I will say that this technique has caused me absolutely no regret with every candidate that I’ve recommended and has been subsequently hired. However if you think a good question when hiring an architect is something along the lines of what exact CSS will left pad a DOM element by 10 pixels, have at it.

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