If you are ever thinking about hiring me then you will notice that I list Interviewing Techniques as part of my formal training. Over the years I must have broken and swelled hearts in equal quantities, as I decided the fate of so many people trying desperately to improve their livelihood. I have a lot of memories from my background as an interviewer, but none of them are as fresh in my mind as the day I broke my interviewing virginity.
Just one day after being presented with my Interviewing Techniques certificate I was interviewing twenty applicants for two vacancies I had within my team. The night before the big day I was fairly nervous and spent a lot of time sifting through my course notes, reading the application forms and creating a list of questions that I was going to ask each applicant. On the day in question, I had the application form in front of me alongside my list of questions when something totally unexpected happened. As each person walked into the room I looked at them and decided that I was going to hire them without asking one question. Despite all of the sweat and worry of the night before I selected people based on my gut instinct.
There is a word for the process that I unintentionally went through on that day and it is called Thin Slicing. How do I know this? Well in the past seven days I have been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s fantastic book Blink. Gladwell’s words have made me realise that my decision to hire was made by using my adaptive unconscious, and Gladwell uses research in this field to consider both the strengths and faults of going with your gut. I believe that the ability to thin-slice – and have the strength of character to trust your instincts in this area – sets some people apart from the mass of everyday folk.
I sailed through the pages in double-quick time, which is always a good barometer of how much I like a book. The evidence that Gladwell presents in the book doesn’t try to sell the virtues of thin slicing but instead offers arguments for the good and bad sides of trusting your instincts. There is also a great parallel with societal conditioning throughout the book as Gladwell explains how our human prejudices can interfere with our instincts. I came to the conclusion that the instincts of an Amazonian Tribesman were probably more reliable that the technological man. The former being spared the force-feeding of how life should be, that we all get stuffed down our throats as we grow up.
As I read through the book I realised how many important milestones in my life were attributed to the act of thin slicing. One memory in particular was the time I decided to join the Jack Canfield Life Coaching programme. I was drowning in debt and I was on the telephone speaking to a woman who was trained to get me to agree to join this programme. She was good, I will give her that, but it wasn’t her training that got me to sign up for that course, it was my adaptive unconscious. Somehow I was able to peek into the future and could see that everything was going to change as long as I agreed to join this course.
Blink, just re-enforced my belief that you should have the confidence to trust your gut instincts more often. I believe that we all share the same traits and yet it is the truly successful people who actually act on their impulses – so start listening to what your gut is trying to tell you!
Why did I pick up this book?
Having previously read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell I noticed that my girlfriend was reading Blink. I believe that reading the same literature as your partner improves your relationship as it gives you both an outlet to discuss themes of common interest. That and the fact that she is one of the most intelligent people that I know made the book a good choice based of her recommendations alone…that and the fact that her luggage was overweight and she needed to lighten her load!