‘Gut feeling’ still the most common deciding factor in hiring, survey shows

Employers rely on instinct over experience, interview performance and qualifications

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of employers say gut feeling is their main reason for hiring someone, a survey published today has found. 

By contrast, the research by recruitment website Indeed discovered just 23 per cent of the more than 1,000 company decision makers questioned said relevant experience was their main reason for taking somebody on board, while the same proportion felt strong interview performance was the deciding factor. Only 8 per cent said good qualifications was their main driver for hiring somebody. 

Bill Richards, Indeed UK managing director, said the findings showed people might be focusing on the wrong areas in their job-seeking efforts. 

“While it is obviously important to get your CV looking good, do your homework and perform well at interview, the fact that most hiring managers ultimately go with their gut shows how a lot of our nervous energy about the application process may be misplaced,” he said. 

But other recruiters expressed their concerns at the findings. Lee Biggins, founding manager and director of CV-Library, acknowledged that gut feeling played a “vital role” when fielding candidates, but said it could lead employers to be biased. 

“Unconscious bias can cause problems when recruiting, which could cost a business potentially great employees,” he added.

Biggins advised employers to “take the time” to weigh up all factors involved in a potential hire – including, but not limited to, their gut feeling – before asking them to sign on the dotted line. 

Gaelle Blake, director and national lead for permanent appointments at Hays, added: “Having a robust hiring process in place is crucial when recruiting, and is something that ensures all candidates are treated equally, despite the fact they may be interviewed by different hiring managers.”

Hays’ What Workers Want 2018 report reported that 84 per cent of job applicants have had a negative experience during interviewing, with the main reasons being that interviewers were unprepared (39 per cent) and there was a lack of structure to the interview itself (38 per cent).

Meanwhile, previous research by TotalJobs discovered employers started to develop their gut feeling about a candidate before they even got through the door of the interview room, with almost three-quarters (74 per cent) using social media to research a candidate in advance. 

As that research also showed, just a third (36 per cent) of jobseekers were aware employers did this, Steven Warnham, jobs expert at TotalJobs, said: “This lack of awareness could catch candidates out, leaving them with an uphill battle to prove themselves.”

The research from Indeed also revealed businesses’ main reasons for rejecting job candidates. Having insufficient experience topped the list, with one in five (21 per cent) citing this. This was followed by misunderstanding an individual’s suitability for a job (19 per cent) and spelling and grammatical errors in a CV (19 per cent).