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Trust Your Gut – How to Hire Without Overanalyzing

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Nowadays, not only are hiring managers faced with the challenge of maintaining uninterrupted productivity, they also have to snap up topnotch talent before the applicant accepts an offer elsewhere. Great candidates go fast, and if you want the best for your organization, you have to act accordingly. But, then, how do you know that the candidate is indeed the best choice, particularly for the position you’re trying to fill? In addition to experience and skill level, there are also individual qualities to consider – will the candidate fit into and thrive in your work environment? The answer to all these questions, it turns out, is very simple: just trust your gut and go with your intuition.

Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

It’s human nature to be prudent. And considering the time, cost and effort involved in hiring, many hiring managers are justifiably very cautious when making a decision. However, our tendency to want to analyze every option and figure out exactly the best approach before jumping in can be self defeating. More often than not, over-analysis can slow down the hiring process, making it cost more time and money than it should. More importantly, it inhibits our ability to effectively fill an open position.

You don’t have to be a hiring veteran to know that resumes seldom contain purely accurate information. In the same vein, most interviewees – even those who turn out to be perfect hires – rarely tell the absolute truth. They often pad their qualifications or embellish their work history to fit what they think you want to hear. So how do you get to the truth, and fast?

Why Trust Your Instincts?

In bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, he urges readers to trust themselves as they know much more than they think they do. He calls this secret store of knowledge the “adaptive unconscious,” which is the part of our brain that works in the background of our conscious thoughts like a super computer that efficiently processes massive amounts of the data for future reference. It is this adaptive unconscious that, according to Gladwell, enables us to make judgments based on very little information. Because of this part of our brain, we are innately equipped to make quick decisions that are actually based on unconsciously accumulated learning.

Gladwell’s assertions are, while intriguing, actually far from being new or unique. The difference is, most experts refer to this ability as intuition, and many consider it to be a very powerful business tool. Lynn Robinson, a business intuitive consultant whose clients range from Fortune 100 companies to entrepreneurs just starting their business, wrote the article, ‘Want Success in Business? Hire Your Intuition!’ In it, she says that although they don’t say so, many top executives view intuition as a vital for making successful decisions. “Intuition can be an important factor in motivating staff, increasing sales, accessing partnerships and predicting industry trends and making hiring decisions.”

HR management and development expert Suzanne Dyer-Gear also asserts that many managers make their decision regarding hiring the candidate within the first few minutes of meeting a job applicant – regardless of how long the interview lasts. “Even seasoned interviewers refer to “gut feelings” when it comes to selecting employees, says Dyer-Gear. According to her, sometimes our intuition, or ‘gut feel’, “may be based on our reading of non-verbal cues that the interviewee is giving off that we’re not even totally aware of.”

Not a Staple but a Supplement

Hiring expert and former TEC speaker Richard Pinsker ranks ‘Ignoring intuition’ sixth in his article, Seven Deadly Sins of Hiring, ranking higher are the transgressions of not knowing what you are looking for, unintentionally limiting the source of candidates, failing to fairly interview candidates, favoring a candidate due to positive association such as having graduated from the same college and wishful thinking. Ranking seventh under the sin of ignoring your intuition is failing to check one more reference. “The best hiring decisions rely on objective criteria,” says Pinsker. “At the same time, you can’t afford to ignore your instincts. If everything checks out on the surface but your intuition sends up a red flag, taking the time to investigate can save you from making a big mistake. My hiring motto is: ‘when in doubt, don’t.’”

While using one’s intuition may sound like the ultimate hiring cure-all, it isn’t. What it really is is a tie-breaker of sorts. You still have to know what you want in a candidate in terms of professional experience and qualifications. However, pay serious attention to your intuition when, upon meeting a candidate or during the interview, it sends signals that warns you that something is ‘off’ – or, on the positive side, that the candidate simply just ‘fits’.

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