Blink, pub and tuba

Blink, pub and tuba

Hiring.  It’s not an easy thing is it?

You’ve got to get your job advert out there, look at some CVs, choose some people to interview and work out whether they’re up to the job.

And – not to forget – you’ve got to deal with your inbuilt sense of prejudice.

This isn’t a personal attack you understand – prejudice when hiring can affect us all.

I don’t necessarily mean prejudice in an illegal or discriminatory way, but rather the inbuilt biases we all have that make us predisposed to select people based on something other than them being the best candidate for the job.

Having helped our clients with the hiring process in the past, and heard a client genuinely justify a choice of who to hire on the basis that he’ll “be good fun down the pub”, it’s fair to say that it’s an issue that exists, and one that we all have to deal with.

Why is all this important?

I’ve just finished reading “Blink…” by Malcolm Gladwell, and in the book he tells the story of how orchestras have changed over the years:

Women, it was believed, simply could not play (a tuba) like men. They didn’t have the strength, the attitude, or the resilience for certain kinds of pieces.

Their lips were different.

Their lungs were less powerful.

Their hands were smaller.

That did not seem like a prejudice. It seemed like a fact, because when conductors and music directors and maestros held auditions, the men always seemed to sound better than the women….

But over the past few decades…orchestra musicians began to organise themselves politically…they thought that conductors were abusing their power and playing favorites…an official audition committee was put in place…

Musicians were identified by not


name but by number.

Screens were erected between the committee and the auditioner, and if the person auditioning cleared his or her throat or made any kind of identifiable sound – if they were wearing heels, for example, and stepped on a part of the floor that wasn’t carpeted – they were ushered out and give a new number.

And as these new rules were put in place around the country an extraordinary thing happened: orchestras began to hire women…and the number of women employed in …orchestras has increased fivefold.”

By anonymising the process, orchestras were able to hire more of the right people and improve their output, and in the world of business, this is easier than ever to do.

By having a clearly defined list of the qualifications, experience and qualities required, you can remove the risk of hiring someone because you ‘like the cut of their jib’ when they are woefully incompatible with the role.

And remember: never take what a candidate says at face value.  They don’t know you, and it’s in their interests to impress you.

Ask the right questions, get them to do all the relevant tests or prove their assertions true.

As the old adage goes, ‘hire slow, fire fast’ – the more in-depth your recruitment process is, the less risk you’ve got of hiring someone who’s fantastic ‘down the pub’, but less than useless when he sits down at his/her desk.

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