Blink. And You’re Hired

Recruitment is more of an art than a science. Artistic impressions take milliseconds to come from the gut, while scientific conclusions take a little longer to be computed in the brain. The best recruitment happens in the blink of an eye.

The proliferation of assessment tools and methodologies that have appeared over the past two decades are a testament to the fact that we want to understand every facet of someone’s character and ability before we decide to bring them into our organizations. However, by making recruitment ever more scientific, are we taking attention away from the basic questions: “Could I work with this person?” and “Would they fit well within the company?”

I am not downplaying the importance of these tools, but I often wonder if a different decision would have been reached had they not been used. The answer is probably not, but much time and effort is sometimes wasted in reaching the same decision. Top executives are not available for long. The key question for me is always one of my “gut feel.” Yes, the pieces of the jigsaw seem to fit in place, but do the intangible elements also click?

For me, the most successful recruiters are artists. They deal in the intangible, in the twilight zone of “I think that they would do well here.” They use their vast experience of previous interview situations to zoom in on those little comments and mannerisms that might set a certain candidate apart from the rest.

It is a similar process for hiring managers who are in tune with their “gut feel.” They have worked with people every day for 15-20 years of their career, so they have a deep understanding of who they would enjoy working with and who they wouldn’t.

There is a fantastic book by Malcolm Gladwell called “Blink.” It is about instantaneous decision-making. Well worth a read if you are the sort who likes to document all the possible evidence before making a decision. You get a feeling about a candidate from the moment they walk in the room. How often is that feeling wrong? You get a sense of your negotiation opponent as you sit opposite them chatting about your weekends. How often does their basic personality show up in what they talk about and how they talk about it? The boss walks in the room, and you know what sort of a mood they are in. You just know. You feel it.

So, yes, the scientific and analytical information should be taken into account whenever you are making a hire. It is a huge decision, after all. However, at the end of the day, it remains your decision, you have the authority to make it, and you won’t make it based on the personality type that some DISC or Meyers-Briggs report produced. 

You will make it because it feels right for you. When you have a recruiter who understands you at that level, then the process is even easier. They will be a second pair of eyes for you.

When you are both tuned into each other, both making “blink” led decisions, you can’t fail to find some great people.


Written by David Ford

Edited by Paul Drury