When Doubts Set You Free – Hiring In The Dark
I’ve never liked job interviews. Never liked being the interviewee. Never liked being the interviewer. I think it’s because it feels like everyone involved is playing a game. We all know we’re playing a game and we’re all pretending that we know the rules, but we don’t.
Worst of all, the game has serious consequences.
Actually, there’s something even worse than the immediate consequences: it’s that job interviews don’t work.
Read this article from Farnam Street if you don’t believe me. All I’ll say for now is HR as an industry grew out of protecting companies from the liability and mystery of hiring people.
There are ways to improve the effectiveness of job interviews, like using structured uniform interviews, blind auditions and data based on competency tests but these methods are seldom available to small companies that don’t have the time, money or access to expertise to make these processes work for them.
This is why I’ve been intrigued by Malcolm Gladwell’s idea of “hiring nihilism” which sees doubt not as prison but as freedom.
Since there is no way to know if you’re making the right decision, go with your gut: hire person you like.
Bound to fail right? I mean, a gut feeling has about as much chance of success as rolling dice.
Yes, but it’s not like current hiring systems aren’t already a lottery, contends Gladwell. And at least, you haven’t wasted time on pretending you can beat the odds.
Also, it’s potentially easier to have the “letting you go” conversation on the basis of “no hard feelings and we gave it our best shot,” or in other words starting the relationship as probation – contingent on it working for all concerned.
Read Dianne Sullivan’s blog about the idea here and listen to a taste of Gladwell on Big Think (4 min). If you want a fuller exploration of Gladwell’s idea listen to the Revisionist History podcast episode “Hamlet was Wrong.”
While I’m not entirely convinced, I appreciate Gladwell’s core idea: that your doubts can actually set you free instead of paralyzing you.
And this applies to more than just hiring staff.
Work hard to understand any problem, but at the end of the day, accept that you cannot know the future. If things go wrong, it will be your responsibility to deal with it, but self-recrimination won’t help.
Embrace an uncertain future that frees you from blame.