“When you do the hiring”




Gut feeling is neither scientific nor particularly objective. But it’s what managers listen to when deciding who gets promoted, who gets to keep their job and sometimes-but not often enough–who gets hired in the first place.
If only the gut check was given as much credence as other more verifiable credentials in the hiring process, there might be fewer people who end up getting fired later.
What does get emphasized? Information that can be verified in the interview and through reference checks. Someone’s experience and education.
But it’s not enough. In an article in HR Magazine a few years back, Clifford Montgomery, then vice president of Human Resources of Quaker Chemical Corporation, said to think about all the people you know who have failed in jobs and were terminated. How many of them failed because they lacked the right degree or experience? Most of them, he said, failed because of inadequate interpersonal skills, inability to communicate or because they just didn’t “fit” in with the culture.
What this should tell you is that someone’s personal characteristics are just as important as data that you can verify through records. But people still don’t tend to trust the gut that can provide useful feedback about someone’s “personal credentials” in the hiring process.
Quaker conducted an exercise, which showed how personal traits are indicative of potential success at a job. They asked a particular group of employees: “If all of our employees resigned on Friday, changed their minds over the weekend and requested to be rehired on Monday, would we rehire every one of them?”
In many cases, the answer was “no.” Why? When the group was further polled, the results showed that employees who rated high on objective criteria and low on subjective qualities such as likability, sense of humor and team player, were five times as likely not to be rehired as those who scored the opposite way. In other words, the person may have had the right experience and degree, but they didn’t fit in the company.
Could the hiring managers have known this before they hired the person? Perhaps. Especially if they were looking for clues. And asking questions to help them decide if the person had the personal traits the job needed and the culture embraced. They could also have checked out their gut feeling with others who interviewed the person.
Most executives I work with base their decision to promote or to fire a person on this very issue. Most of the time, the person in question can do their job fine. They have honed the technical part. It’s a matter of how this person acts, their style or how well they get along with others, which boils down to how the executive “feels” about the person. If the person can’t improve in these areas, they tend to not get promoted or even get fired.
The moral of the story is this: if you’re the hiring manager, take an analytical look at the person. But also do a gut check. Evaluate whether the person fits your culture. And if you’re the one being interviewed, do your own gut check. Evaluate whether the culture fits you. Doing this up front will save everyone a lot of potential grief later.

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