Intuition sometimes picks up on stuff, but it can miss things too. Particularly, high-performing sociopaths often know how to charm and smooth initial encounters until they can nestle into a position where it becomes costly to remove them, and then they can let go.
It’s fun to complain about box-checkers, but checklists have an important use. What’s wrong with box checkers is that they think their job is done after checking off boxes, or that an unticked box tells you all you need to know.
Michael Mauboussin talked about Checklists in his book Think Twice and he was a fan of them for investment processes. It’s a bit off topic, but it’s still pretty interesting to think through the typology of checklists:
He borrowed from someone else’s work and said there were basically two types:
Do-Confirm Checklists : These are for complex things you do regularly. They are there to make sure that in what may be a long process, you’ve covered all the bases your process requries. It also helps keep you from being distracted by one key feature or failing to the extent that you forget or disregard the rest of a process. Airline pilots going through the pre-flight instruments check are a useful example of a Do-Confirm checklist. There’s a lot of stuff, so it helps to make sure nothing’s been forgotten.
Read-Do Checklists : These are for important situations that come up rarely, so you might not remember the best procedure off of the top of your head. Think about a nuclear power plant shutdown… what stuff needs to be turned off and in what order. The operators presumably don’t need to do it that often, and there may be emotional panic involved if it’s an emergency, so you have the Read-Do checklist to ensure it’s done right.
(More good stuff on Checklists: https://hurricanecapital.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/think-twice-checklists/ )
The box ticking is precisely to avoid this kind of thing; the problem is that box ticking shouldn’t be the only thing people do.
Box ticking likely does get rid of a lot of toxic candidates, but high-functioning problematic folks can still get through. That’s part of what makes them high-performing. Part of the challenge is that what features the checklists call for can become mismatched with generational changes, I guess.