Monday, July 9, 2012

Solving the job interview problem


When I was working on finding competitive advantage in the job interview, I was using it as an example of our innovation capabilities.  We just picked the job interview as the test case because it was something everyone understands. 
The interesting problem I encountered wasn’t in understanding Kahneman’s Peak/End theory which, by the way, he does a nice job of explaining in his new book Thinking Fast and Slow.  Rather the interesting problem developed when I came across two other psychological insights.
First, it turns out that the power of the peaks is dependent upon the activity level in brain.  The more active the brain is, the more powerful the peak.  This should have been a simple problem, just find our what things activate the brain and use the ones available in the conversation.  Perhaps tell a story, or a joke, or craft a particularly clever way to answer an expected standard interview question.  Then came the bigger problem.
Second, it turns out that fMRI studies have shown that the human brain is four times more active when we are talking, than when we are listening.  That meant I would need a way to cause the peaks to happen while the hiring manager was doing the talking, not while I was doing the talking.  The peaks had to happen in the hiring manager's brain.  It took a little more digging to come up with the strategy in the book.  If you can solve this problem differently, I would love to hear about it. 

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