Stop watchCan you possibly determine cultural fit in just over a minute? How fully can you trust your gut instinct when it comes to finding the right person? Truthfully, seasoned recruiters, hiring managers, and staffing pros may not need much more than 90 seconds to determine a candidate’s viability.

This is because your experience hiring great candidates has given you a well-developed gut instinct. While following our gut can feel unscientific and far too unstructured for the important task of hiring, our gut actually knows much more than we think.

After all, human beings tend to make first impressions rapidly based mostly on the information we take in quickly. In fact, most of our brains click an initial impression into place after only seven seconds.

Listen To Your Gut

Research has shown our gut instincts are essential for important, higher-level decision making. A neuroscientist at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, Antonio R. Damasio, has been studying individuals with damage to their prefrontal cortices. He found this area, which is instrumental in processing secondary emotions like the gut instinct, is also instrumental in decision making. With this section of the brain damaged, patients had a very hard time making even simple decisions.

So there’s a science behind moving fast and trusting your gut. After all, gut instinct is mostly just your brain unconsciously accessing years of memories and acquired wisdom. Cultural fit is important, and a candidate’s behavior in the first 90 seconds can often be an important hiring clue. Whether your candidate is sitting on the other side of the desk or the other side of the country thanks to video interviewing, quick decision making can help you nab the right person.

Watch Candidate Presentation

Presentation includes any way the candidate chooses to present themselves to you and to the world. For the most part, this will include what they chose to wear and how professionally they chose to attire themselves. In fact, 65 percent of hiring managers admitted clothing can have a big impact on hiring decisions.

If you’re connecting with a candidate using a video interview, presentation can also include how the candidate chooses to set their own personal stage. Is the background clean and uncluttered, or does it look like an episode of Hoarders?

In only 90 seconds, you don’t have much to go by when judging a candidate’s potential cultural fit. But these presentation cues can tell you much more than you’d imagine about how seriously the candidate takes the opportunity, their level of professionalism, and even their organizational skills.

It might sound lightweight to judge a candidate by their sloppy attire or messy room, but the candidate’s inability to clean up for a short chat tells you a novel’s worth about their future on the job. If the company culture calls for a serious go-getter with top-notch organizational skills, hiring the candidate who walked into the room in a horribly wrinkled suit might not be the best bet.

Look For Nonverbal Cues

There are few companies that can afford subpar communicators. Communication skills are essential in almost every aspect of most jobs. Your candidate needs the ability to work as part of a team, give and take instruction, and impart new ideas.

In the first 90 seconds, you’ll be unlikely to get into the hard-hitting questions you’ve chosen to uncover their weaknesses and judge their ability to think on their feet. There are still plenty of nonverbal cues, however, which can give you insights into their cultural fit within the organization.

  • Eye Contact and Smiling: Eye contact and smiling, for instance, can help you gauge the friendliness and confidence of your potential employee. If your company culture thrives on teamwork and positive collaboration, a candidate who refuses to crack a smile might be far too straight-laced for a laid-back and free-flowing atmosphere.

  • Fidgeting: If you’re hiring a leadership position, you might want to skip the candidate noticeably fidgeting in the first minute of the interview. While everyone gets nervous, if the fidgeting is pronounced enough for you to notice, perhaps it’s because the candidate doesn’t actually feel confident in their ability to meet the job requirements.

Every candidate is different and every company culture is unique. The presentation clues and nonverbal tics important to one company won’t be essential for all. This is why the first step to making quick and smart gut instinct determinations is to know the company culture backwards and forwards. Your gut instinct can tell you plenty about a candidate in 90 seconds, as long as you truly understand the company culture this candidate will need to fit into.



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