Trying to impress a HR Manager–without overdoing it–is essential to landing the job. But, what qualifications are most likely to give you a competitive edge? Should you emphasize the years of experience you have under your belt? Or will that cause the HR Manager to question why you haven’t moved up the ranks faster? Should you highlight the fact that achievement comes easily to you? Or will that make you sound lazy?
According to a new study conducted by University College London professor Chia-Jung Tsay, when it comes to impressing a HR Manager, natural talent beats experience.
Natural talent bias
Through a series of studies, researchers discovered that HR Managers show a strong bias for people whom they believe have natural talent. Interestingly, most of the participants didn’t recognize this bias. They thought they preferred hard-working strivers over those with natural gifts.
In the first set of studies, participants were given information about a potential candidate named Charles. Half of the participants were given information that showed Charles was a naturally talented leader from day one. The rest of the participants were told Charles was a striver who became a leader by developing critical relationships.
All of the participants listened to a recorded business pitch from Charles. After listening to the pitch, they ranked Charles and his proposal on factors such as his likelihood to succeed and how likely they would be to hire him or invest in his company. Participants who believed Charles had natural talent gave him higher ranks.
In another study, participants were shown pairs of individuals who differed on five attributes related to entrepreneurship: management skills, leadership experience, IQ, investor capital previously raised, and naturalness versus striving.
When asked which person they would likely hire, 60 per cent of the participants chose the natural over the striver. Even when hiring the natural would incur costs related to hiring a less qualified individual, they were still more likely to choose the person with natural talent.
When researchers quantified the results, they discovered that participants were willing to give up over four years of leadership experience, eight per cent in management skills, 30 points on IQ, and over $30,000 in accrued capital to invest in an entrepreneur who was identified as a natural.
Interestingly, the more experience the participants had as entrepreneurs, the more biased they were toward people with natural talent.
Apply this to your life
Although gritty people might do a better job, HR Managers prefer naturally talented individuals. So if you don’t have decades of experience or years of education, you might not necessarily be at a disadvantage.
So, rather than insist you are a hard worker who perseveres at all cost, highlight some skills that seem to be ‘in your blood.’ Admitting things come easily to you might actually help you gain a promotion or land a job ahead of someone with years of experience. It may be tempting to downplay your natural talents because you worry your achievements may look like luck, rather than skill. But in the eyes of a HR Manager, natural talent may look better than a great work ethic.