“I want the person to be up to speed,” Sam started. “After orientation and some process-specific training, I need this person to be able to solve certain problems and make certain decisions without a great deal of input from me, as manager.”
“Up to speed?” I asked. “I know what you mean, but I want you to be more specific with your language.”
“I want the person to have the capability, after two weeks of process-specific training, to solve specific problems and make specific decisions, related to the work in the role.”
“Can you train that capability, current capability?”
“No, I can train skills, but I cannot train current capability. It is what it is,” Sam replied.
“And, can you train current potential capability?” I wanted to know.
“No, the training will reveal the candidate’s potential capability. As the manager, after two weeks, I will have a very clear understanding of their current potential,” Sam nodded, slowly.
“You are about to go into an interview tomorrow,” I nodded in agreement. “What questions can you ask in the interview that will give you a clear understanding of their current potential? You don’t want to wait two weeks, until after training, to find out you made a hiring mistake.”
“The difference between current capability and current potential will be orientation and training,” Sam thought out loud. “Some of my questions in the interview should be about things they learned in the past, at a former job. What did they learn, how did they learn, how fast did they learn? In the beginning, the work in this role will be all about learning. I need to know how the candidate learns, the pace of that learning.”
“Learning in relation to what?” I prodded.
“Learning in relation to problem solving and decision making,” Sam smiled. “It’s not memorizing technical information. I don’t care what the candidate knows, I care what the candidate can do.”