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​Gut Feelings

​Gut Feelings
ArticleRecruitment ProcessInterviewing

Gut Feelings: when to indulge and when to ignore

Interviewing can be a task.

Interviewing is also a skill.

Interviewing is a job which needs to be done properly, regardless of the who, the why or the when.

Since joining Certus almost 7 years ago as a ‘Candidate Consultant’ – the sole purpose of my job being to source and interview jobseekers – to my current role at Sales Director for the London office, one thing has remained the same:
I like to meet and interview the candidates I’m working with, properly, myself.

The reasoning behind that comes from many places, but one thing we can all agree on as hiring managers or business owners is that during an interview, you get a gut feeling. It’s something which forms naturally, sometimes from the off but often developing and firming over the course of the interview. In fact, in 2018 a survey of more than a thousand decision makers revealed that over a quarter of them – 28% to be precise – agreed that they were more likely to hire someone based on what their gut was telling them over experience or knowledge.

We’ve all been there. As recruiters specifically, we learn to read our own instincts objectively. When I interview someone for a role I’m working on, my gut feeling might be telling me this individual is spot on – but what will my clients be thinking? Equally, I could feel something off – but that could be my own personal past experiences coming into play. My gut feeling not being quite right doesn’t mean that this person is wrong for the job – it’s now for my client to decide. What we do is give you all the facts – the candidate’s experience, their achievements, plus our honest thoughts and true feelings.

So when should we indulge these ‘gut feelings’, and when should they be put aside to focus on the facts?

As I mentioned before, interviewing itself is a skill, and some are more adept at it than others. As someone in a hiring position it’s important to remember that when you’re interviewing a candidate, what you’re really looking at is a number of different skills, on the surface level only – namely how they present, how well they articulate themselves etc. Further to that, you’re assessing their level of experience, the successes they’ve had and the bits we can see ‘on paper’. What we can’t do is assess accurately how successful they’re actually going to be based on words alone; it can also become difficult to get a read on that person’s personality, finding out who the ‘real’ them is.

And you’ll find that this is where the gut feeling often comes into play.

If all the boxes are ticked, there are no obvious red flags and they come across well, but still something isn’t sitting right, inspect those feelings. Take time to think about what it is you’re seeing, or not seeing, from this person. Try to take an objective view on what you’ve heard – don’t ignore the feeling you’re having, but try to work out why you’re having it.

Conversely, it could be that you’ve met someone who really doesn’t have everything you need – but your gut’s telling you they’re right, they’re worth a shot and they’ll be a successful hire. Again, it’s important to delve deeper – could it be that you’ve just built great rapport and would get along well with this person, which is causing you to mask the fact that they might be unable to fulfil the job? On some subconscious level, do they remind you of someone you know, or used to know, and have warm feelings towards? Do they simply have that aura which is great to be around – leaving you inclined to hire them, despite their missing pieces? Gut feelings work both ways, see – and at all levels.

Sometimes, it's alright to give the benefit of the doubt despite any instinctual misgivings – but it’s as important not to ignore warning signs just because your gut’s feeling good.

To answer my own question above, there’s really no right or wrong way to interpret a gut feeling, but we must have them for a reason. The best advice I’d give you is to stay open minded, and take the time to learn some interviewing skills yourself. Ask for facts and figures to back up any claims, where possible; equally, give candidates a chance to freeform answers in a more abstract way to learn more about their thought processes. Ask competency based questions to determine their actual experience, rather than how well they can talk – leave no room for speculation, by asking “Tell me about a time when…” rather than, “What would you do if…”

In business we tend to lean towards that which is measurable; facts, logic, numbers.

Unfortunately, our gut is yet to catch on.


It can be tough to know what you’re getting at interview – so having experts at your disposal can bring some relief to a strenuous process. When you meet a candidate being represented by Certus, they’ll have been interviewed by us beforehand; our job is to save you time, so that each gut feeling you get is a good one.

Get in touch with our team in London today to discuss how we’re doing things differently.

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