A lot of studies have been conducted in the last 20 years trying to identify the best predictors for success when hiring new employees. Companies bet a lot of money on new employees: good ones make the company lots of money. Bad ones (at best) don't help the bottom line and (at worst) COST money. The results of these studies show that "technical skills" (i.e., how well you can perform the technical requirements of the job) are not nearly as good a predictor of success as the non-technical skills related to the job. The "non-technical" skills I'm talking about are general, touchy-feely things such as making sure you don't (for example) hire an introvert to be a salesman, or hire someone who prefers to work alone and expect them to work in a team environment. Regular old "technical skills" can be taught to the right person in time, but you'll never
be able to teach a non-detail oriented person a subject like accounting. It just won't work.
The bottom line is that the enlightened manager is much, much better off hiring someone who knows absolutely nothing about the technical requirements of job, but who otherwise has all the right personality traits, than hiring someone who is a technical wiz but does not have the other personal traits that will ensure success.
It sounds to me like your employers were pretty enlightened, and it doesn't surprise me that you were ultimately a success in that job. And yes, it's those non-technical traits that a good manager gets at during an interview.
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