Wednesday, January 9, 2008

go with your gut

I'm designing and developing an online course for hiring managers at a local company. While working through the source material, I came across this advice:

Avoid common rating errors. Seventy percent of Hiring Managers make a decision on a candidate within the first 3 minutes of meeting them. Review candidate’s information and your notes against the job description and performance competencies. Communicate feedback to interview team and Hiring Manager. Make the best decision based on evidence - It’s more than a gut feeling.

The contrast to Tom's post about Malcom Gladwell's Blink is interesting. There's the obvious business and professional considerations. I'm also thinking about classrooms -- resident and online (I do hate the term virtual classroom). As instructors, facilitators, teachers, etc., we're asked to be objective, to evaluate based on the student's intellectual activities in and about the subject matter.

I begin to develop a visual and intellectual portrait of the student from the first email or post. It's just what happens, whether I listen to the voice or not. I've used ice breaker exercises to minimize any wary conclusions I might draw from tone, style, or grammatical problems, but the sketch is drawn anyway.

In online courses, I need to function more like the hiring manager -- shutting out that little voice telling me X about a particular student -- waiting until I have a chance to fill in the details of the sketch. And yet there's a degree of pragmatism in what Gladwell concludes. I've been the hiring manager and instructor making the blink decision. While Gladwell might classify a hiring situation or a student evaluation as an "easy situation" (as opposed to what he considers "a complex" situation), I'm not comfortable toggling between gut reactions and working through a body of information before making a decision.

All human interaction shapes a response. What we do with that response is maybe what I'm responding to.

2 comments:

Tom Johnson said...

You make a good point. Few job interviews are 3 min. long, probably for a good reason. In Gladwell's book, he talks about a successful car salesman and how he makes quick judgments about the incoming customers, but despite the quick judgments, he holds off his inclinations and gives everyone the same chance. I can't remember the details, actually, but it was an example against the blink decisions.

Although the study guide at the back of Gladwell's book raises the question of whether Blink can be applied in job interviews, he never addresses it directly in the book.

As a commenter on my post said, many of our blink decisions come from experiences. What if the interviewee looked or sounded like someone the interviewer once knew, and it didn't work favorably for the interviewee? Seems like that could get in the way fairly easily.

On the other hand, much of a job interview is in figuring out whether the interviewer and the interviewee like each other, whether they can get along well in the workplace. That shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to figure out.

By the way, the link back to my post has an error. It should be http://www.idratherbewriting.com/2008/01/07/malcolmn-gladwell%e2%80%99s-blink-your-first-impression-is-usually-correct-in-complex-situations/.

mike said...

Thanks for catching the link error Tom. I'm still trying to find a comfortable workflow with the Blogspot tools.

I'm thinking I'll try to take a quick look at Gladwell's book (no pun intended). The core concept is interesting, and I'm wondering how it could be/has been considered from the perspective of a learner (in a classroom or online environment). What about the quick decisions we make when working through a new software interface? How does the basic concept Gladwell puts forth in the text affect heuristics? It's a great thread you've got me following. Thanks again.