Math at job interview

Why Math is important for your job

Over my professional life, I hired many people. In many occasions, I had the last say as to the quality of the candidate. What was I after, during this final interview? Certainly not whether he / she was an expert in the field for which we were hiring. That, hopefully, we had understood already during the initial screening. What I was interested in, was to understand whether the person sitting in front of me could “think”. Because if a colleague of yours can “think”, he / she will ask questions when questions are to be asked (asking the right question is many times more important that having the right answer) and will also be capable of coming up with a personal point of view. So, you are either going to get a positive contribution to the performance of your company, or at least you will have somebody who you know will not create problems to your organization.

What has this got to do with math? It has “got to do”, because the way you do math is an obvious demonstration of the way you can think. It would be wrong to say that if you do your math right then you are an excellent professional. But I rarely witnessed the opposite (the opposite being that people with clear issues in their analytics become very successful in business). I don’t think you can get away with it: if you are good at it, or if you have been good at developing your skills, you will certainly reap some benefits. And I am not talking about differential equations. What I am saying is that if you can apply the rigor which is necessary to do your analytics right, then it means that you usually “think” right and that it would not be a surprise that you have some success in your work.

That is why, hopefully not being too nasty at it, I have always tried to understand what kind of analytical sophistication had the guy sitting in front of me. And unfortunately, I have always assessed negatively whoever did not give me some reassurances as to his / her skills.

Let me say this again. Not because you are good at math then you are going to be successful in your professional life. But the opposite is quite unlikely.

What is so good about it? Practice helps more than anything. You might have been born with a predisposition or not, but some good training is going to take you a long way.