Why do tests predict job performance better than interviews? Because interviewers let their “gut instinct” cloud their judgment and introduce lots of related bias.
This recent article suggests (without any data to back it up) that sometimes we should just trust our gut because it is better at predicting the future than our analytical mind, which is better at predicting the past. Huh? Our instant reactions to something make us psychic?
In Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow he summarizes decades of research on decision making. He describes our fast, “gut instinct” thinking as System 1. Let’s talk about a few of the reasons why this kind of decision making leads us to poorer decisions:
1 thinking is highly influence by irrelevant numbers. For instance, valuing something at a higher
price if the first cost is presented at $50,000 than if the first cost is
presented at $25,000.
level of thinking leads us to make judgments based on how easily we can think
of examples. When we can think of those
instances, we give them higher probabilities of occurring.
gut is overconfident—it assumes we have more control than we do. Kahneman explains that System 1 decision
making involves only our own experiences, which are a small and does not
account for randomness. Despite the
article above saying that our gut instincts are forward thinking, it is just
the opposite. System 1 thinking assumes
that what I experienced before is a far greater predictor of the future than it
If your instinct tells you that an upcoming decision is wrong, don’t just trust it. Do some research and/or talk to others and see if you are falling into a System 1 pitfall.
We rarely have 100% of the data we want before making business decisions. But, throwing away what we have because going in another direction “feels” better is not a recipe for success.
Let’s put this in a selection context. Our gut tells us that people who are similar to ourselves in background and experience are the best hires. Slower thinking tells us to look at other factors, such as skills and abilities before making such decisions. And when we do so, we make better hiring choices.
Going with your gut instinct It may sound sexy and empowering, but it is not effective. Our slower System 2 (per Kahneman) processing system, despite its own set of biases, is more likely to lead us in the right direction.