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The importance of "gut feel" in recruitment

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I watched part of the "debate" between our prospective Prime Ministers this week and found myself wondering what makes a great Prime Minister and can we spot that by measuring them against a list of attributes or do we have to just go on gut feel? Would the great Prime Ministers of the past have stood up to the kind of scrutiny that the current applicants for the job are going to have to undergo? Would, for example, Churchill with his fondness for drink, his ability to spend money like it was going out of fashion, his love of the high life and his depressive bouts have even made it on to the shortlist to become Prime Minister these days?

The truth is that great Prime Ministers often have great faults as well as great strengths and it isn't always the most obvious person that ends up in the annals of history. No-one thought Margaret Thatcher at the beginning of her time in power would have ended up as one of the 20th century's great Prime Ministers.

Having interviewed for years, it isn't always the obvious candidates that make the best applicant for the job. Sometimes someone comes along and they are missing bits of the job description and would not make it through to the next round if we were doing a tick box exercise against the job spec. Despite that, my gut feel can be screaming at me that I should put this person on the shortlist because they "have something". It may be potential, it may be charisma, it may be a fantastic personality.  When this happens, they usually are successful at the interview and go on to be a success in the role.

So, whilst recruitment gets driven ever more by IT solutions, I believe that we should not ignore the human gut reaction. It is still very important in our decision making.  

Have a good week.