Trust ‘ya’ gut! Do you overlook this recruitment tool?

You know that little “something” that niggles at you, the voice in your head or that “thing” you can’t quite put our finger on.  “It” often prevents us from making decisions or if we ignore it, we end up kicking ourselves that we didn’t listen to it when we make the wrong decision.

Gut instinct, a feeling, intuition, I can’t explain it, I can’t teach it and to be honest at interview I can’t assess whether you have it either. So it becomes very frustrating and hard to justify using your ‘gut’ in recruitment because it is subjective.  It isn’t based on fact or skill.  It’s that intangible intuition that you develop over time through interviewing hundreds and hundreds of people and observing human behaviour in what can be one of life’s most stressful situations – a job interview.

A few weeks ago I was interviewing a candidate who had a great CV, presented well face to face, answered all the behavioural based interview questions well and gave great reasons for wanting the job….but there was just something missing, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I kept asking more questions and yet my gut was saying something is not quite right here – but I had no facts to back it up.  This was quite unsettling because in recruitment I like a valid reason to say no I’m not going to refer this candidate to this job or to my client.  However, within 24 hours my gut proved right through this candidate not following up with promised referee names and numbers and a failure to follow simple instructions – my gut was right.

To use this “recruitment tool” to its full potential, here’s what I’ve learnt:

  • Acknowledge the feeling – something isn’t quite right here, I’m not 100% sure what it is, but I recognise I’m not completely sold or comfortable
  • Ask questions – to validate the concern or to prove yourself wrong, you need to ask great questions to find the facts
  • Time – if you can’t find the answer immediately or evidence to make you go one way or the other, sit on the decision for at least 24 hours (something always tends to come up after the event)
  • Seek advice – can you gain a referral or speak to someone who has dealt with this person, product or service to give you some feedback on perhaps what did or didn’t work for them? This process, might clarify that gut instinct for you.
  • Previous experience – if you have made similar decisions in the past and been right, then it is reasonable to use this gut instinct again and realise that you have made a similar decision correctly in the past. For example, I have chosen not to hire experienced Consultants working for competitors due to my gut feeling that they won’t fit into the Entrée Recruitment culture.  This is very difficult to listen to when everything on paper is telling me they would be a good hire. Previous experience tells me it won’t work so I don’t ignore this urge to hire just on skills and experience (see previous blog Who’s hot and who’s not….what the perfect resume won’t tell you).

This isn’t only in recruitment – it occurs in all parts of life’s decision making.  I know for myself, I haven’t listened to this intuition on several occasions around picking service providers for our new house.  The disaster with our blinds could have been prevented if I had listened to my gut and the warning signs of cancelled appointment times, not returning phone calls and then the commented “yeh we’ve never sold these types of blinds before….”! I think sometimes we just get in situations where we hope that things will work out even when we can feel those little butterflies in the stomach trying to tell us something.

At the end of the day we all make incorrect decisions and we learn from these mistakes. The hard part is when we ignore our gut feelings and continue to make the wrong decisions.

Trust your gut – it is rarely wrong! In the recruitment world we have hundreds of tools at our disposable to help make the correct hiring decisions – screening measurements, tests, interviews, reference checks, coffee meetings and psychological assessments and yes they have their place in the recruitment process. But when was the last time you used this very powerful recruitment tool of gut instinct? Did it work? Would you use it again?