Why Gut Instinct and Intuition are reliable recruitment tools.

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

Shel Silverstein

After almost 16 years recruitment experience, I’ve come to many conclusions about the science (some might say the dark art) of what makes a good recruitment process and when I reflect on some of the best hires I’ve assisted my clients with, they all had one common denominator. In each case I could trace the respective hires back to my initial gut instinct about the candidate’s individual merits and motives. And even in the cases where the hires didn’t happen, I usually could connect the dots back to a point where my gut was telling me that something about the process, just wasn’t right.

Lou Adler in his seminal book – The Essential Guide For Hiring & Getting Hired, advocates a performance based hiring approach, one which suggests that the way to minimise the risk of hiring someone who isn’t the right fit for your job is by following a simple formula. His formula is Talent + Management + Team + Thinking divided by the Job + Manager + Cultural Fit multiplied by Motivation. I would argue that whilst all of these elements are important in getting the fit right, sometimes a recruiter just has a gut feeling for a particular candidate who may not tick all of the boxes, who on paper lacks several key components but who overrides these by offering significant levels of motivation and potential.

The essential element of Lou’s formula above has to be motivation. Companies may overlook a lack of skills or experience but they’ll rarely hire someone lacking this component. As Adler opines “Motivation to do the work required is the most important of the factors and also the most difficult to assess“. Motivation may be assessed by gathering examples of where the candidate previously went the extra mile doing comparable work. Or perhaps they took the initiative to undertake additional responsibilities beyond the parameters of the role. These can indeed be instructive but past behavioural patterns are not always indicative of a desire to do similar work again.

Dan Ariely in his excellent TedX talk of October 2012 sums up motivation thus. “Motivation = Payment + Meaning + Creation + Challenge + Ownership + Identity + Pride“. This revised model should ensure that people are more productive and happier. And where does this happiness stem from? From the heart. People who are happier in the work are more motivated to do well, so the key is to hire happy people and let their happiness reflect the pride and ownership they take with their jobs.

In my experience the best recruitment assignments have a logical, methodical flow to them, but sometimes there is no logic behind why an inexperienced candidate lacking in some of the key skills gets the job. The employer overlooked their skills deficit, saw something in them and hired them for their potential and the possibilities this may bring to the company. This is hiring from the heart and whilst you can’t ignore logic and reason, your gut instinct is to go with the candidate who just feels right. This may seem to some to be a risky, roll of the dice approach to hiring, but in my opinion it’s a calculated risk worth taking and will rarely let you down.

So the next time you’re interviewing a prospective hire, listen to your heart and trust your instincts. What is your gut telling you about this person? Don’t ignore logic but listen to the inner voice and what it’s telling you. Subconsciously you’ve already made the correct choice.

Campbell Rochford – Turning Good To Great

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