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Thought Leaders Unpacked -> What the Dog Saw #18: The New-Boy Network

thought-leadersFirst impressions stick. While strangely enduring, these impressions are not necessarily accurate.

In this week’s chapter of What the Dog Saw, Gladwell explores how much weight we give our first impressions and the misleading conclusions we too readily draw.


The result being, “we replace the obviously arbitrary with the not so obviously arbitrary.” This one quote is worth the price of the entire book.

I have long advised that the traditional interview process of hiring is fraught with pitfalls given the brief and artificial nature of the structure.

All involved are putting on their best social personas in order to make a positive impression. Interviewers usually omit disclosing anything negative about the working culture of the organization. Applicants are careful to use the wordings and examples that they have been told the employer wants to hear.

Now on top of these practical limitations, Gladwell reveals how often most people don’t let any of this information inform their initial gut impressions anyway. We replace one set of fallacious information with another.

Our lengthy interview processes don’t feel arbitrary, but if they aren’t providing valid or meaningful information that is resulting in any better hiring results, why should we bother?

Is it all a waste? Should we conduct all our hiring at social mixers and simply select the people we enjoy the most?

As Gladwell concludes, maybe all that is necessary to secure your next job, get your next promotion, or possibly even win your next date is to, “speak clearly and smile.”

What do you think? What was your main take-away from this chapter?

Each week I post my reflections from one chapter of What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.

Here's My Thought...

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