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Here’s How Quickly Interviewers Decide Whether or Not to Hire Someone

There’s a common belief that interviewers tend to make hiring decisions within a few minutes of meeting someone, often based on little more than a couple of inane details. That assumption is supported by research, but the studies were small and they were conducted in labs. So a team of researchers from Old Dominion, Florida State, and Clemson decided to take a look (paywall) at how things play out in real life.

They found that people do in fact make snap judgements, but not as many—or quite as quickly—as we might think.

The study looked at more than 600 30 minute job interviews with college and graduate students. Many interviewers said they made rapid decisions about a candidate’s suitability: 4.9% decided within the first minute, and 25.5% decided within the first five minutes. Overall, 59.9% of decisions were made within the first 15 minutes, less than halfway through the scheduled interview time. Still, sliced another way, this new data shows that 69.6% of decisions occurred some time after the first five minutes, which runs counter to those earlier studies that found that most decisions are extremely early.

So, sure, it pays to ...

Amid All the Pomp, Where Are the Public Management Degrees?

This is the season for graduations. My son finally made it, graduating from Penn State with a degree in political science. (He did well.) In perusing the commencement receptions for each major, I thought there might be faculty in attendance who share my professional interests. That prompted me to search for course descriptions that focus on public sector workforce management or performance management. In a list of roughly 100 courses at the university’s main campus only one came close (an overview on public administration).

The political science department offers a wide array of public policy courses, but faculty research and expertise does not appear to include the everyday management of government agencies. At first I thought Penn State must be different, since every business school is focused on management issues. In fact, business school faculties are organized around the common management functions (e.g., finance). A common research thread is improving company and functional performance.

I was now curious, so I decided to see what government management courses are offered in other universities. I stopped after looking at only a handful because the pattern was surprisingly the same. To confirm my tentative conclusion, I asked a prominent professor who ...

The Financial Perks of Being Tall

In the 1960s and 70s, Thomas Gregor, an anthropologist at Vanderbilt, traveled to central Brazil to see if height was prized by people beyond the developed world. For years, he observed the Mehinaku, a group that lived in the tropical forest and was so thoroughly unmodern that they had never seen eyeglasses. He spent time with the Navajo and the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea, too. “In no case,” he would later write, “have I found a preference for short men.”

The bias that Gregor showed to be embedded into human social life plays out quantifiably in the professional world: In Western countries, a jump from the 25th percentile of height to the 75th—about four or five inches—is associated with an increase in salary between 9 and 15 percent. Another analysis suggests that an extra inch is worth almost $800 a year in elevated earnings. “If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it,” one researcher told Malcolm Gladwell for his book Blink, “we’re talking about a tall person enjoying literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of earnings advantage.” (The research suggests that height makes only slightly more a difference for ...

Colliding With the Third Rail

It is the classic dilemma of a corporate mouthpiece: The client doesn't want to talk:

  • Crisis? "Let's wait for the lawyers."
  • Bad news? "It'll blow over."
  • Gossip? "Just ignore that."

The underlying assumption is always the same, too: "If you give them any attention, you're only legitimizing their argument."

Recently I learned this term, "the third rail." As in super-sensitive, controversial topics too dangerous for a politician to discuss. Whether you're in politics or not, it is unfailingly "third rail" for a communicator to argue with the client's discomfort at arguing their case in the court of public opinion.

One of the all-time best theorists of organizational dysfunction, Chris Argyris, called the failure to question assumptions a problem of "double-loop learning." That is to say, unhealthy organizations not only take certain incorrect things for granted, but they resist—almost to the death, and sometimes fatally—any attempt to critically examine those beliefs.

In an unhealthy organization, communication about things that matter is impossible, because:

  • Problems are denied until they become an unpleasant crisis. The prevalent belief: "out of sight, out of mind."
  • Crises are ignored until they become catastrophes: "Talking about problems only makes ...

Why Your Routine Is Killing Your Creativity

I’ve always considered human beings to be creatures of habit.

Throughout our lives, it seems as though we’re constantly jumping from one schedule to the next. From preschool to the workplace, we’ve been conditioned to follow an agenda and have learned that straying from it can create room for error.

Structure is something that’s constantly being engrained in our heads. For this reason, we develop these things called routines.

A routine, as Meg Selig of Psychology Today writes, is nothing more than a “series of habits.” We follow them with intentions of making our lives easier, but rarely ever stop to think about how limiting they might be.

Then again, that’s sort of the underlying convenience of routines in general. They allow you to get sh*t done without thinking, simply out of habit. According to Selig, routines allow you to “go on autopilot and still accomplish your goals.”

Every single morning: You wake up, watch SportsCenter for 15 minutes, hop in the shower, get dressed, grab a granola bar, double-check you’ve locked your door, and then you hop on the train. See, your mornings probably require very little thinking because you’ve been ...