Double check that "intuition" when hiring…it could save you a big mistake

These are useful notes I took from a book on HR (Sorry can’t remember its name now):

The problem:

A) Perfect on paper — intuition says no

B) CV& background not right — intuition says yes

These are both situations when you want to trust what your intuition is telling you. Unfortunately, your intuition is often wrong. Perhaps you liked a candidate, so you softened up on the interview questions and reference checking. Also, you may remember when your intuition proved right and conveniently have forgotten all the times it was wrong. Follow this procedure to balance any undue influence from your intuition:


You and your team should decide on exactly the attitude, knowledge, personality and experience that are necessary for the position before you conduct the interviews.


For example, ask the following kinds of questions for a vice president of marketing position :

  • How did you manage a product introduction?
  • How did you determine the feature set of a new product?
  • How did you convince engineering to implement these features?
  • How did you select your PR firm?
  • How did you select your advertising firm?
  • How did you handle a crisis such as faulty product?

Minimize spontaneous follow up questions and making up new questions in real time. If you’re afraid that you, and therefore your organization will appear rigid and standoffish to the candidate, explain that you’re using a technique from ‘this book about ‘startups’ that you’re reading and that you’re not normally like this

For example, any half decent candidate can bluff through questions such as ‘why do you want to work for this organization?’ More pointed questions are better ‘what are the accomplishments you’re most proud of?’ ‘what were your biggest failures?’ ‘what was your most gratifying learning experience?’


You’ll need these notes to accurately remember what each candidate said. Don’t depend on your memory because it will be warped by the passing of time and your subjective reactions to candidates.

Many organizations check references for a candidate to whom they’ve already decided to make an offer. This is a set up for a self fulfilling prophecy, because you’re going to hear, and want to hear, comments that affirm your decision. Big mistake. You should use reference checking as a means to decide whether the candidate is even acceptable, and not as a confirmation of a choice that you’ve already made.
After this process, if your intuition is telling you one thing and ‘the facts’ are telling you another, answer these questions :

  • Should you like the candidate (because he is well qualified), but you don’t?
  • Should you not like the candidate (because he is not well qualified) but you do?
  • Is there a factual and objective basis for your intuition?
  • Would the interview have gone differently if you had conducted it over the phone? Lets’ not deny the physical appearance of a person can influence your decision.

After taking all these precautions, follow your intuition!

In my case this has not worked that well, sometimes I have been lucky but my intuition has also been wrong about people many times when i make a snap decision. Also, when I had others helping, still made mistakes…it’s always a lottery but these notes will help to avoid obvious mistakes.

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