Friday, September 21, 2012

Confidence of Ignorance!!!

Read this wonderful quote by Charles Darwin “Ignorance frequently begets confidence than Knowledge".

Let’s put this quote in the context of our daily work situations. Organizations are faced with a number of challenges and one among is to hire right kind of talent and make them successful.  The skill set requirements have vastly changed than how it was about 10 years ago. The advent of Internet revolution, eCommerce ,mobile penetration have changed the market landscape and new age companies are forced to look for different skill sets which are still emerging and no clear cut standards.

Most companies do not have a clear idea on what to look for in a candidate. Hence they go through a process of shortlisting of candidates and conducting interviews. Organizations put their best forward to get right candidates yet in at least 60% of hires (am statistically challenged hence I am pulling out a number which is more a figment of my imagination based on stories that I have heard) that happen there is a mismatch between expectation and actual capabilities when the rubber meets the road. 

Although the interview process is one of the time tested ways of selecting a candidate, why is that it fails?

In this blog I am attempting to look at one of the possible reasons for such high failures and this thought process is based on the concepts highlighted in the book “Invisible Gorilla" by Chris Chabris and Dan Simons.

Our Competency
Chris and Simon delve deeply about a concept called Illusion of Confidence... How much we think we actual know is very different from how much we know...

In an interview, unknowingly, the one thing that we, as recruiters, look for in candidates is their confidence.  More confident the candidate more the chances that he will be selected. The fault lies not in the confidence but our love for confidence. Since we are not clear on what kind of skill-sets are required we tend to use confidence as one of the heuristics for decision making. So when we see a candidate presenting himself confidently, our illusion of confidence takes over automatically continues till we face some incontrovertible evidences.

From the candidate's/employee's perspective it is very common that when he starts learning something new while his skill level is low his confidence is usually higher that he might sound over confident. Justin Kruger and David Dunning in their research call it as the double curse of incompetence: People who are unskilled are also unaware of it. And in some instances if the leader or manager pledges his ignorance by trusting the employee to take all the decisions hence  there is high probability that he is not going to be honest about what he knows and what he knows not. It builds up the employee’s ego to make people believe that he knows. This struggle continues till both the manager and employee face contradiction which exposes the employee.

What is the way out?

There are no straight forward answers. It is important to know that anybody and everybody can fall into the trap of illusion of confidence. Recognizing this illusion is the first step. Next step is when manager and employee face this contradiction it is important for the manager not to take some tough measures. Kruger and Dunning have found in their experiment that explaining to the subject (employee) on what went wrong and teaching them is one way of the ways to make them better judges of their competence.

Am sure we will begin to accept that we have been victims of illusions of Confidence.. Reflect this thought and  share if you have had experiences of this illusion.


mshreedhaaran said...

“He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool—shun him. He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a child—teach him. He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep—wake him. He who knows and knows that he knows is wise—follow him.”
In todays world, interviewers rarely come across type 4. All they see are types 1, 2 and 3 and they struggle to pick Mr. Right :)

Ramani said...

Enjoyed reading this blog. I feel Organisations are still using HR function very tactically.

Companies which considers HR function seriously are the ones who are going to be successful in long run. Be it recruitment, employee engagement, training.

vineeta said...

Loved this.