You stare at a resume or walk out of an interview and you have a feeling about this person. Your gut instinct is a firm “yes” or maybe a definite “no”.
Should you always “go with your gut” when hiring a new employee? What’s the harm?
When you are screening applicants, your first obligation is to make sure your intuition does not run contrary to the law. Are you basing your decision on a person’s ability to perform the job, or is a stereotype guiding your thought process? Remember that you cannot discriminate against a protected class. Don’t overlook disabled people because you think they’re “broken”, or women because you think they should be at home taking care of the kids.
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After you set aside your personal biases, make sure your sixth sense is being guided by facts. Make a written list of the job requirements and your expectations of an employee. Then compare the applicant’s education, experiences, references, and interview performance with these expectations. You can strengthen your objective interviewing techniques by administering job-related tests. Are you searching for someone with a proven track record for attracting new customers? Do you need a specialist who can automate your operations? Knowing your hiring goals in advance will help you determine how each candidate matches up.
You may only be left with your gut instinct, all things being equal, and with concrete and objective information at hand. Your intuition is often based on perceptions that you cannot yet put into words. It can help you rule out candidates who would not be a good fit for the organization. For instance, you may feel drained after a long conversation – not a good quality for a salesperson – or you may have the feeling that a candidate was not listening – not recommended for a customer service role. Be willing to live with any hiring decision you make.
If listening to your sixth sense scares you or if your gut has been wrong in the past, get a second opinion. Run your thought process by a trusted colleague before committing yourself to a hiring decision. Just remember that he may be using his intuition too.
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