Science Threatens To Replace Gut Reactions?

I often get the feeling recruiters and hiring managers think science takes the “gut” out of hiring decisions. To me, these comments reflect 1) superstitious belief, 2) a serious lack of professional knowledge, 3) a total disconnect with reality, or 4) a deep unspoken fear of losing control. Well, folks, get a grip. Few of us are in full control of anything ó and the ones who are do not rely on folklore and mysticism to make good hiring decisions. Why? They know uninformed human decision-making is flawed. You doubt? Work on this: Ted purchased a bat and ball for $1.10. The bat cost exactly $1.00 more than the ball. How much did the ball cost? While your “gut” is screaming the “right” answer to you, read some of the following myths the recruiting industry needs to abandon: Myth 1: Personal opinions are more accurate predictors than controlled research. There are many things we do not understand about hiring (e.g., will the new employee in five years decide to marry a squirrel and move into a tree nest?). However, our inability to predict the future does not mean we cannot learn as much as possible about the present. The only way to do that is to: 1) conduct our own research, or 2) read research conducted by other people. We may not like to believe research results because they interfere with personal opinion, but research is the only way to know for sure which recruiting and hiring tools work best. A hiring manager might be 100% convinced of his or her opinion, but that is not the same as being 100% correct about the candidate. Myth 2: Interviews are highly accurate predictors of future performance. Sorry, interviews are only highly accurate predictors of liking or disliking the applicant ó and little else. Imagine purchasing an automobile based purely on a salesperson’s encouragement. You do not take the time to drive before you buy, but your “gut” is attracted to the shiny paint, sleek design, and the image of being young, driving through the mountains with a beautiful passenger and feeling the wind rushing through your perfectly combed hair. Sure! Reality is more like waking up with sore joints, not being able to touch your feet, riding with your dog, and having your comb-over sucked through the moon roof like dust bunnies into a vacuum cleaner. Imagination seldom equals reality. Myth 3: In spite of making monumentally bad decisions, everyone is a people expert. We call this myopic aurum rectitis; that is, being so nearsighted one cannot discriminate the difference between manure and gold. Recruiters consider themselves successful if the hiring manager accepts the candidate. Hiring managers consider themselves successful if the new hire does not embarrass them. Everyone is optimistic, but only about 50% of employees meet that expectation. Moreover, they all think 50% the best it can get! You really can do better ó 90% accuracy is not unusual. It just takes some effort, discipline and willingness. Myth 4: A personality test is an accurate measure of job skills. Think about it. What does personality really have to do with skills? We all know dominant people who are bright and equally dominant people who could be outsmarted by a clump of peat moss. Dominance, extraversion, compliance, intuition or any other personality characteristic is almost totally independent of job skills. Scores represent how a person wants to present himself or herself on paper ó not that they have the skills of an Einstein. Personality tests are fun, but seldom predict job performance. Do your own legitimate study if you don’t believe me. Myth 5: Science replaces “gut.” Every hiring decision ultimately comes down to making a gut decision. The only thing we can control is whether our “gut” is fully informed with hard data like tests, cases, and simulations. If not, we have a self-imposed case of myopic aurum rectitis. Myth 6: Professional recruiting is more effective than internal HR. Sorry, folks. Anyone using job definitions to define skills and interviews to measure them is pre-destined to produce the same results. One exception: professional recruiters have a better rolodex. A professional recruiter (or HR department) who wants to set themselves apart from the competition (i.e., ensure long life and enduring career happiness) has no other option: they have to do a better job of defining job criteria and measuring job applicant skills. Myth 7: The ball cost ten cents. Actually, the ball cost a nickel. Do the math. Bat + Ball = $1.10. Bat – Ball = $1.00. Going back to 11th grade algebra, we add the two equations together, the balls cancel and the Bats add to become 2 x Bat = $2.10. Dividing by 2 shows us the bat cost $1.05. That means the ball cost five cents. (Ask your son or daughter to show you how it works.) Still trust your gut?

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