Ellen Warden, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
WorkPlace Synergy, LLC
If your gut says an applicant will be a bad hire, trust it. But if your gut says he or she is a good hire, do everything you can to prove yourself wrong.
The labor market is tight and BV practice leaders are struggling to find good talent. How do you spot good talent? “I can just tell if someone is going to be good or bad when they walk in my door.” A University of Chicago report says we decide whether we like someone or not in 14 seconds or less. That’s the most common way hiring happens. You may pride yourself on your intuition and decisiveness, but Businessinsider.com reports that gut hires lead to about a 50% hiring failure rate; a waste of your time and blow to your bottom line.
We have gut feelings about everyone we meet. Our brain picks up micro signals and traits that it immediately associates with certain qualities, personalities, and past experiences. Listening to your gut is more of an emotional than rational reaction. There’s a time and a place to trust your gut, but your first interview with a candidate is not one of them.
Going with your gut happens when you only consider a candidate’s first impression and superficial aspects. When you see candidates who seem like someone you know or would easily socialize with outside of work, you’re basically comparing that candidate to yourself. That can lead to unconscious bias, either positive or negative, which injects irrelevant criteria into hiring decisions If you like an applicant, for example, there’s a good chance you won’t ask the hard questions.
Candidates who interview the best are often candidates who have interviewed the most. They’ve honed their answers and they know how to tell you what you want to hear. You don’t need candidates that interview well. You need candidates that can do their job well.
Your job is to find the best match for your position. To do that, you must put gut feelings aside and dig deep. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Don’t be intimidated at the prospect of asking questions that might make the candidate pressured or uncomfortable.
It’s not only asking them about their experience and skills but asking them to give examples.
Stacy, your resume tells me you have client-facing experience but tell me about a time when you had a challenge with this…. How did you…? What was the plan? How did you execute the plan? Who did you involve in it? What was the result – how did it benefit the practice? What did you learn to do differently?
Getting granular when they tell you they know how to do something will go a long way in qualifying a candidate.
When you hear that little voice inside your head saying, “this candidate really isn’t interested” or is “really not the right fit for us”, or if your gut is screaming “DO NOT HIRE THIS PERSON!”, listen to it and end the interview process.
If your inner voice is telling you that you “just know” this is the person for the job, take a step back, look at the bigger picture and evaluate using a structured, strategically designed process:
- Assess the candidate’s ability to do the job
- Look at previous work samples
- Use data, facts, figures, and lists to make decisions
- Have multiple team members agree on the hiring decision
It’s your responsibility to see the full picture. Gut feeling can help but put the brakes on and factor in outside influences, your experience, and where this feeling is coming from. From there you can make an informed decision, recruit, and retain good talent, even if the talent pool is small.
Do you need help creating a strategically designed hiring process? Ellen Warden works with BV/LS practices around the country to help them align their HR solutions with long-term objectives. You can reach Ellen at WorkPlace Synergy.