Regular readers will remember that at one time in my life I was a personnel manager for a 10-store chain in San Diego.

Hiring and firing people always seemed like a coin flip. If I hire this person will they do great or will they fail to make it past their 90 day probation period?

I hired one young lady that started at 9 AM and quit at noon the same day. You just never know.

I Was Thin-Slicing

At the time I was working there I didn’t realize that I was using a process called thin-slicing methodology.

It’s a methodology first defined by Professor Frank Bernieri of Oregon State University.

In layman’s terms it simply means that we decide how we feel about someone in the first few seconds that we make contact with them.

Some people we like immediately others we get that “something’s just not right about this person” feeling.

And it happens almost instantaneously.

It’s that old saying you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Without really realizing it I was just using a thin slice of the persons behavior and personality to decide if I was going to offer them a position or not.

Do Employees Get A Fair Shot?

I know that seems really unfair to judge someone so quickly. It would appear that I was not giving someone a real chance to show their true value to me as a potential employee if I knew they would not be offered the job as soon as they shook my hand.

And I would never ever admit to anyone that’s how the process really works. And at the time I don’t think anyone could convince me that I was using thin slicing.

But I probably was subconsciously using it; I just didn’t know what it was.

We meet people and almost immediately we know that there is a connection or not.

Looking at the thin slicing methodology from the employee’s point of view — no they didn’t get a fair shot.

Years of schooling, hours of deciding what to wear to the interview, a professional looking resume, all kicked to the curb in the first few seconds based on a smile, a handshake and a hello.

Some Final Thoughts

All retail stores have high turnover. It’s generally low pay, long hours, and little personal satisfaction in the job.

It’s like spending time on a desert island waiting for rescue by the right ship to start you on your real career.

Retail employees are always handing out resumes somewhere else.

That’s not a slam on them or on retail that’s just how life works. We take the knowledge of one job to the next and our skills and expertise grow.

But there will always be thin slicing both by you and your potential future employer.

Having that knowledge won’t help you much other than to make sure you have a good handshake.

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