Latest Research Reveals the Underestimated Value of Intuition in Recruitment


A new report, The Intuition Index: The Critical Role of Intuition in International Business, has shown that intuition is regarded as a vital asset in hiring and promoting staff, with 96 per cent of business leaders reporting that intuition is important in these tasks.

Global executive search firm Signium set out to discover the true value of intuition to business leaders. The research challenges the traditional executive search methods which rely on the data-driven competency models and psychometric testing, showing that ‘softer’ intuitive skills are just as essential in recruitment decision making. In the report, the Chief Financial Officer of one of Europe’s leading business organizations saying that “it must be one of the deciding factors in recruitment.”

Only 55 per cent of HR decision makers reported that intuition was very important when they were personally looking to hire or promote someone, compared to 67 per cent of commercial decision makers, showing that the recruitment sector is lagging behind in its lack of trust in intuitive thinking.  

The research serves as a direct call to action for the recruitment industry and is intended to empower HR decision makers who feel confined to using only competency questionnaires and other ‘hard’ measures to evaluate candidates; these findings should give HR managers confidence to use much broader models of assessment.

Not only is this research vital in helping HR decision makers achieve the right recruitment fit, it also contributes to the ongoing drive to create more diverse shortlists. There has been a long-held assumption in the industry that competency models are unbiased and ensure diversity, but Signium’s Chairman, Alastair Paton, argues this is erroneous.

“White male extroverts will always put their hands up and say they can do a job, despite not always being a clear fit,” he said. “But other candidates which would bring diversity often say they aren’t qualified enough and will not put themselves forward because they are more introvert and lack confidence in their competency fit. This is why current recruitment methods don’t work – they play to the white/male/older personality types and as a result we fail to deliver a truly broad and diverse shortlist of candidates. We need to use intuitive thinking that links to cultural fit and company values, and it needs to be done up front, not at the last minute when you meet the candidate. The way recruitment is undertaken needs to radically change – and this research proves it!”

In addition to these insights into recruitment, the research contains further evidence of the importance of intuition more broadly within business decision making, comparing the value placed on intuition across 12 different countries, assessing its perceived use between men and women, and considering other variables such as company size.

The full report can be downloaded HERE.



Signium is one of the world’s leading executive search and leadership consulting firms with an extensive history dating back to the 1950s with offices in key business cities around the globe. We look beyond the qualifications and background of an individual candidate to consider culture fit and client values, something we call the application of “intelligence and intuition.” With local passion, knowledge, and a partner-led approach, we advise senior business leaders on developing their skills, their people, and their organizations.

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