The Definition of Genius

Ashton Applewhite has an article for the New York Times about ageism in hiring preventing good workers from working. In it is this incredible story of a former Apple engineering lead who couldn’t get a tech support job at Apple’s retail stores: 

I’m lucky enough to get my tech support from JK Scheinberg, the engineer at Apple who led the effort that moved the Mac to Intel processors. A little restless after retiring in 2008, at 54, he figured he’d be a great fit for a position at an Apple store Genius Bar, despite being twice as old as anyone else at the group interview. “On the way out, all three of the interviewers singled me out and said, ‘We’ll be in touch,’ ” he said. “I never heard back

What possible reason could there be that Apple wouldn’t hire Scheinberg into a retail tech support role after having accomplished the incredible hardware and software feat of the transition from IBM’s PowerPC to Intel’s x86? 

Unless he had literally shit on a colleague’s desk on the way out of his previous job with the company, I can’t imagine any legitimate reason for him to not be hired.

The one issue I have with this article is that it doesn’t burn the hiring practice of “Culture Fit” more. Here’s the one mention of it:

“Culture fit” gets bandied about in this context – the idea that people in an organization should share attitudes, backgrounds and working styles. That can mean rejecting people who “aren’t like us.” Age, however, is a far less reliable indicator of shared values or interests than class, gender, race or income level. Discomfort at reaching across an age gap is one of the sorry consequences of living in a profoundly age-segregated society. 

Jeff Guo found the Genius anecdote and pointed it out on Twitter.

Author: Jack Slater

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