Recently I was intrigued by an article in a Fast Company magazine. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/136/made-to-stick-hold-the-interview.html He was talking about how we spend so much time interviewing for the right candidate. After we hire them, we determined that they are the wrong candidate, but we hired them based on the fact that they interviewed well. They cited a study in Texas at a medical school where they admitted students based in part on interview scores. The state said that they had to admit 50 more students. So they admitted 50 more students that were below the cut off on the interview scores. These students did just as well academically, and in their first year of residency.
It appears that our ability to discern compatibility from an interview is less than perfect.
Then, in a different Fast Company Article, in the Made to Stick Column by Dan and Chip Heath http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/137/made-to-stick-in-defense-of-feelings.html they report on gut feelings. In particular, how your feelings can be more ethical than analytics. They cite a study from the University of Toronto, where Chen-Bo Zhong tested subjects with anonymous partners. They wanted to test whether or not people would lie or not to anonymous people. If they lied, they would gain at the expense of their partners.
Some were encouraged to think rationally about the situation and ignore their emotions. Almost 70% of these people determined that it was okay to lie to their partner. Others were primed to base their decision on gut feelings. In this case, only 27% lied. In this article, Chip and Dan point out, that when interviewed, most business people search for someone that makes decisions rationally, versus decisions based on emotion. Yet the individuals that made emotional decisions were the more reliable and honest. We can Trust Them! Look at what happened to our “rational”financial markets.
What strikes me about these two articles is the dichotomy between rational and emotional decision-making. In one case, the interview, we find that gut feelings are not always reliable. When we choose our candidates based on their interview skills. We often end up with candidates that are not best suited for the job. On the other hand, when dealing with profit and gain people that pay attention to their gut feelings or to their emotions and their intuition tend to deal more honestly with each other.
So leaders, what are we to do? Do we follow our gut or do we rely on logic?