My spouse/business partner and I recently were conducting employment interviews. One of the candidates took exception to some aspects of the job application, which is a standard form we always use for all applicants. After assuring him that we were not trying to steal his identity, we had a good interview, but Melissa, the psychologist, was wary. She was very uncomfortable about him. We discussed this after he left, and she was adamant, repeatedly saying “something is wrong.” On points like this I am usually not as judgmental about candidates because there are so many types of individuals. But, as she pointed out, she is in business to “spot the freaks,” the ones that should be of concern. Usually, of course, this is in the context of jury selection and deselecting potential jurors who will be adverse to our client. But, the skill is the same. She is paid to judge people and their actions: she is an expert on people. And, once again, her freak spotting skills were accurate when this candidate returned for a further interview (at my behest) and was more “freakish” than the first time. He was obviously not a fit and we moved on. I had to say, “you were right,” yet one more time. For business owners, spotting the freaks is important. I know of too many stories when employers were too trusting and were taken advantage of by new hires. And, I’m also not saying that all potential jurors who are not right for a specific case are “freaks.” But, at the extreme, they are out there and they can be dangerous. It helps to have a freak spotter on your side!
I am a social psychologist and an expert on judging and predicting human behavior. In fact, my job is comprised almost exclusively of judging and predicting human behavior and the company I co-own with my spouse exists solely because I possess the education, knowledge, skills, and expertise in determining how people will act. Time and time again, others will question my judgments, only to be reminded that I am paid by 100% of our clients to make exactly the kinds of judgments about which I am now being second guessed. Needless to say, this constant need to “prove myself” is tiresome. Once my predictions about someone have been proven to be correct, it usually isn’t long until my judgment about the next person is questioned. I have learned to consistently advocate my position, as well as trust my judgments and not let anyone who does not share my skill set influence my decision. Often, my clients (all of whom are high powered attorneys) attempt convince me I am wrong and they are right, but when it comes to people, it is usually me who is right and they who are wrong. Otherwise, if they possess exactly the same skills as me, why would they need to hire me? In the latest instance involving the prospective employee, the behaviors in which he was engaging were similar to a big, bright neon sign blinking, “Danger! Watch out! If you hire me, you will regret it! I am weird and proud of it! Stay away!”. Fortunately, relatively little time was wasted by my staff with this person and we were able to send him away, quickly, before he could do any damage to anything or anyone, including me. (As an aside, one thing I always ask myself when I am interviewing a job applicant is, “Could I handle traveling across the U.S.A. with this person, spending countless hours on airplanes, in rental cars, and in hotel conference rooms?” If the answer is “No!” then there is no reason for me to hire the person, because, as the owner of the company, I cannot afford to work and travel with someone who gives me the creeps!) Call me a “freak spotter” if you want, but I prefer to consider myself an excellent judge of human behavior.