Using your gut is similar to scratching the surface of something; to examine and discover only the superficial aspects of something or in this case a candidate. We call it the Four A Syndrome, because when you trust your gut, you are assessing a candidate’s presentation skills over business performance and substance. The four A’s are: 

  • Articulate
  • Assertive
  • Attractive
  • Affable

For sure, we have all been there. Think back to your latest recruitment challenge, and it might have looked something like this. 

You have received resume after resume from HR or your external recruiter, you have spent days and days sitting in useless interviews, and just having a conversation in English with the candidates has been an uphill struggle. You are getting more and more desperate because your head office is pushing hard to get the hiring done sooner rather than later. 

Then one day, you receive this two-page resume with just the right amount of information, the font type and size are reader friendly, there’s lots of white space and a beautiful built up. It’s a model resume so you quickly arrange a meeting. 

Your interview goes well, the candidate is friendly, articulate and speaks fluently and coherently.The candidate is assertive and confident without being aggressive. The person is attractive, well dressed and presentable, and you built rapport quickly and easily. The interview goes beyond your expectation, so you start asking the easy questions to get a home run. Your gut is screaming at you: hire, hire,hire. 

Welcome to the gut club,you have just fallen into the typical trap of assessing presentation instead of performance. You are falling in love with the candidate’s personality. It would have been easier to just flip a coin, heads, you hire but tails, and you don’t. 

What is it about the gut feeling that makes it so ineffective? In short, it is the absence of hard data and the lack of facts and reality. 

So if your gut is not reliable, and if you cannot use your finger-spitzen-gefühl, a German term translating to "finger tips feeling" and meaning intuitive flair or instinct,then how do you best assess the qualification of applicants and candidates? 

An effective interviewing process follows these four steps: 

  1. Prior to the interview make sure you understand the key elements of the job.
  2. Identify the knowledge, attributes, and skills the candidate needs for success.
  3. Identify the people skills a person brings to the job. This is by far the hardest trait to determine, but by understanding the applicant's personality and motivation,you are guaranteed to improve your hiring process.
  4. Follow a structured process. This does not mean the entire process is inflexible without spontaneity but that each candidate is asked the same behavioural-based questions.

And always remember that hiring is also a selling activity. If you are meeting so-called passive candidates, which are people typically provided by headhunters, keep in mind that these people have good jobs and are not yet necessarily convinced that they should make a move. If you feel you have a strong candidate, you need to switch into sales mode. That means you should tell them why the grass is greener on your side of the fence compared to where they are employed now. If you manage this, the candidate leaves convinced about the great opportunity your company can offer.