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Employers- Don't Rely On Your Gut Feelings

Monday, February 22, 2010 4:47:02 AM


This letter was written to Nicki Chapman, the author of an article entitled 'How Gut Feelings On Staff Can Backfire' that appeared in the Evening Standard on the 17th February 2010.
I read with great interest your article about ‘how gut feelings on staff can backfire’ in yesterday’s Evening Standard. It is obviously of great concern that 71 per cent of all our line managers would change their decisions in relation to their employees. As you later quote Dr. McHenry, the economic cost of these decisions is considerable.
By way of introduction, my name is Lewis Clark and I am the Director of the recently established Get Work Experience Limited. We believe that we are the only European firm solely focused upon the marketing of work experience placements to young persons. We also provide both employers and their prospective interns with free employment-related articles and advice. As such, we often receive feedback from firms of which a great deal concerns their difficulty in finding and selecting the best individual for their available position.
We have found that their employment decisions are frequently made on their gut instincts very early into the interview. Jim McKelvey, co-owner of U.S. firm Great Lakes Profiles Inc., has revealed that on average the decision is made within the first 4.3 minutes of the interview. It is contended that the C.V. presents the applicant’s technical proficiency whilst the interview should relate to discovering whether they will “fit in” with other colleagues, whether they are a “team player” and what their personal motivations are. If this is the case, and research has shown that in 2007 25% of UK employers withdrew offers of employment due to falsifications or misinterpretations of information*, then the gut feeling will play a very important role unless the interview process is an extended one. However, as you mention, the vast majority of line managers live to regret their decisions.
An alternative option is the use of assessment centres to evaluate applicants. This is clearly an expensive option and not suitable for the majority of UK Businesses. Nonetheless, for those who are able to utilise it, the use of tailored tests, presentations and group work will enable employers to further assess the candidates. However, whilst more of their personality will be revealed through interaction, the centres do not replicate the very workplace in which they will operate so the risk to the managers is still apparent. 
Others have contended that the best indicator of future performance is past performance. However, although current regulations do not totally forbid the passing of bad references, the majority of firms will provide a pleasant reference or withhold references to indicate their displeasure in the fear of being sued. This lack of clarity may indicate why 25% of employers in 2007 did not chase the references provided*.
In conclusion, it is our experience that the most dependable method in selecting the right full-time employee is to have first-hand knowledge of their abilities. We do not charge any further fees for those placements we have organised that lead to full-time employment, in fact we are delighted that our clients have found our service to be so beneficial. With the economic future looking uncertain, we believe that the use of work experience will continue to be of upmost importance in securing both firms’ and young persons’ long-term future.
Once again, thank you for writing such an interesting article.
Kind regards,
Lewis Clark
Get Work Experience Limited
Tel: 07748656889
Add: 150 West Hill, London SW15 3SR
* Research taken from CIPD’s 2008 Recruitment, Retention and Turnover Survey.