Ninety-six per cent of business leaders say intuition is a “very important” skill in hiring and promoting staff, with a report suggesting it could be used to improve the diversity of shortlists.
Research by executive search and leadership consultancy Signium found that “softer” intuitive skills – which it defined as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” – were just as useful in recruitment and reward as traditional methods like psychometric testing and data-driven competency frameworks.
This is why current recruitment methods don’t work – they play to the white/male/older personality types and as a result we fail to deliver a truly broad and diverse shortlist of candidates” – Alastair Paton, Signium
However, its The intuition index: The critical role of intuition in international business report suggests HR professionals’ methods could be “lagging behind” because their trust in intuitive thinking was much lower. Only 55% of HR decision makers claim intuition is important when looking to hire or promote someone.
One business leader said intuition is often necessary when a “leap of faith” decision is required as it allows organisations to “embrace radical change”. Others said it was useful when deciding who to hire between two equally qualified people and discerning whether staff are engaged in their work.
Signium chairman Alastair Paton said intuition also contributes to developing more diverse shortlists and challenged the assumption that competency models are unbiased.
“White male extroverts will always put their hands up and say they can do a job, despite not always being a clear fit,” he said. “But other candidates which would bring diversity often say they aren’t qualified enough and will not put themselves forward because they are more introvert and lack confidence in their competency fit.
“This is why current recruitment methods don’t work – they play to the white/male/older personality types and as a result we fail to deliver a truly broad and diverse shortlist of candidates. We need to use intuitive thinking that links to cultural fit and company values, and it needs to be done up front, not at the last minute when you meet the candidate.”
The international survey of 303 directors and senior decision makers and the same number of HR decision makers also found that using intuition in hiring and promotion judgments was important in 82% of large organisations, versus 62% of smaller employers.
All respondents in the healthcare, education and construction and engineering sectors said intuitive thinking was important to their business. Only half of those in the legal sector said it was very important.