The tricky question an IBM Watson VP likes to ask every job candidate doesn't have a right answer


Obed Louissant IBM Watson

Obed Louissant

There's no such thing as a perfect response for this question, says Obed Louissant (pictured).


Obed Louissant, the VP of HR for IBM Watson, has one question that he always likes to ask job candidates.

And it's a doozy.

"Tell me whether it is better to submit a project that's perfect and late, or one that's good and on time."

Tricky, right?


But Louissant says he's not seeking a correct answer.

"It's interesting when you get peoples' response to that," he tells Business Insider. "I don't have a right answer for it. I'm not looking for a right answer. I am more looking at the way in which the person explains and reasons why they answered the way they did."

For Louissant, the inquiry poses an opportunity to learn more about a person's thought process. He says that at IBM Watson, the branch of the company that focuses on the question answering computer system, there's room for deadline-shirking visionaries and pragmatic taskmasters alike.

"We need different types," he says. "We need a bit of a perfectionist on the team, who's going to say, 'Wait, we're not going to turn this in because it's not right yet,' and we need the other person on the team who says, 'No, we've got to make the deadline.' That creative tension gives you better outcomes."

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