Going With Your Gut


For a while now, I’ve known that I get more/bigger “gut” feelings than other people. As an INFP, my intuition is usually accurate…I observe, I see patterns, and I make connections. That does NOT mean that my intuition is always right. So as I sat in an interview this morning – I was on the interviewing end – my brain was subconsciously scanning the candidates and making those aforementioned connections. By the time the interviews were over, I knew what my gut feeling was.

The interview team then spent a few minutes discussing what we saw and heard. And I was pretty surprised to hear that the other members of the team had observations that were markedly different than my own! I was suddenly in a position where my gut feeling was not confirmed by others’ perceptions, and it was a very difficult thing to overcome. In the end, I made my feeling known but agreed that we should proceed with the majority decision.

I got back to my desk and performed a quick Google search for “when to go with your gut in interviews”. I was very pleased with the top result, an article on LinkedIn by prominent businessman Jack Welch. In short, his advice was to make a distinction between making deals and dealing with people.

When you’re making deals, you often have a lot of numbers to dig into. You have a lot of objective data, but you may be missing more qualitative factors. This is where your “gut” feelings can come into play. A healthy balance of quantitative and qualitative data can help you reach the best outcome. Similarly, when you’re dealing with people you often have a lot of subjective information at your fingertips but you may be missing more of the quantitative factors. Seeking a good balance, you will want to come up with some objective data to complement your “gut” feelings.

Knowing that job interviews fall under the “dealing with people” category, the key is to use those “gut” feelings but temper them with quantitative data. In this instance, it would have been helpful to develop a rubric or other scoring system – the members of the interview team should have listed characteristics of a successful candidate and then given each candidate scores throughout the interview process. The scores could then be aggregated and used in the decision-making process instead of relying on just perceptions.