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Peter Thiel's Tip on How to Hire: "The Aura Test"

Stashed in: Talent, Hiring, Hiring, Blink, @gladwell

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My favorite thing from the class Peter Thiel is teaching at Stanford:

"Max Levchin developed what he called the aura test: you listen to someone for 15 seconds and then decide if he has a good aura. If so, you continue to listen. If not, you walk away. It’s not hard to imagine that companies who employed some version of the aura test were more likely to survive the mania than those who didn’t."

Decide if a person has a good aura after 15 seconds?

Sounds like something out of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.

I also like this piece of advice from Peter Thiel himself:

"To understand businesses and startups in 2012, you have to do the truly contrarian thing: you have to think for yourself."

Does the aura test only work if you're having a migraine?

I get it, but you have to watch out for:

1) False positives, hucksters w/ charisma who give off good vibes, but are empty or worse, rotten, on the inside.

2) False negatives, solid gold people on the inside who may have a rough, young or just shy exterior.

If 15-second judgments were sufficient, we'd all prefer that decision making framework. Just think how much time we could save if we didn't spend all that time actually evaluating?

As an aspie, I always found the quick-impression judgment to be infuriating and outright discriminatory. People, generally, aren't that damn good at making those kinds of judgments... and what you get is offices full of people who just happen to look and act all the same.... and happen to be just like the hiring manager. It's just an excuse to be racist, or sexist, or ageist, or insert-ist-here-ist.

Jason, I agree. Blink is not appropriate for hiring.

But this is, in fact, how most people assess others -- if not in less time. It seems like it's actually effectively a way to be more blunt and brutal about the hiring process to save time, rather than continuing the process for the sake of curtesy.

Blink shows more data is not always better for decision-making; the right data, and an intuitive decision based on a limited set of data is what is important.

Blink is not appropriate for hiring.

Treating people with respect -- and spending time with them -- is important.

Not just for the hiring process, but once you're working together, too.

Great relationships are progressions. It takes time to get to know someone.

True, but in my experience, that is not how people hire. So in the normal hiring world, thiels method seems to save time...

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