Going With Your Gut: When Instincts Override Data

Going With Your Gut: When Instincts Override Data

Which “A” player is best for you?

Wedged between a recession and a recovery, most  organizations have reduced their workforces to save money and remain viable. Many corporate bosses are evaluating talent to identify and retain top performers, and recruit the “A” players who will position them to be competitive in the years ahead.

Employers will be faced with higher turnover as the economy recovers. Good talent always leaves for what it perceives to be better opportunities as the economy pulls out of recession.

The Fed is reporting that recovery is underway, yet the labor market remains stalled—with unemployment hovering around 10%. This suggests that there will be many more qualified candidates than there are jobs available for the three to six months.

Then we must still have a buyer’s market, right? Yes and No.

There is a problem that every “buyer” must consider. With an abundance of seemingly qualified candidates, how can you determine which “A” player is going to be the best for your job? The risks and costs of choosing the wrong person for your company can be expensive – in terms of lost money, lost time, and lost opportunities.

It is critical to get it right.

Skills, values, and chemistry

At Dise & Company, when we conduct an executive search for a client, we evaluate candidates primarily for job fit and cultural fit.

Job fit and cultural fit are critical—that a candidate’s skills and experience are relevant to the job—and that the candidate finds the position’s activities and responsibilities satisfying. It’s critical that the individual and the organization possess shared values. Without good job fit and good cultural fit, you don’t have a good candidate. But what is the deciding factor when you have several qualified candidates for the same position?

“Sometimes the best candidate for the job doesn’t look that way on paper”

In my two and a half decades in Executive Recruiting, I have learned never to underestimate the importance of going with my gut, especially when faced with multiple candidates vying for the same position.

This is the “It” factor of hiring in a crowded marketplace.

The right hire is a combination of skills, values, and the elusive “It” factor.

When Instincts should override the data

Your gut instinct is a deep, subconscious voice inside that tells you: “This individual does not have the best track record, but she brings a package that makes her uniquely qualified for the opportunity—this is the person you need to hire. Don’t let this person get away.”

While the old adage that “Past performance predicts future behavior” holds true, there are exceptions to the rule, and you need to be prepared to recognize and capitalize on them.

“A” Players come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

Sometimes a big setback can be the motivation to succeed in the next position. Sometimes you can find a diamond in the rough—a person who is hungry—and anxious to prove himself after what appears to be a failure or a mediocre-looking performance—“an underdog.”

If a candidate fell down in a previous position, the questions should be: “Did she get back up and dust herself off?” “Is he passionate about the industry?” “Did she learn from her mistakes?” Did he maintain his sense of humor?” “Does she emphasize practice over theory?” These character traits illustrate resilience and determination in the face of adversity—essential traits for success—no matter what the industry.

It all boils down to the chemistry between the candidate and the need. Going with your gut can be the deciding factor that will help you choose the right people to lead your organization and strengthen your competitive position in the years ahead.