Esoteric in recruiting and personnel selection: 5 reasons against profilers, physiognomes and clairvoyants


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Oracles and psychics are as old as humanity, but also in 21. In the 19th century, esotericism is booming - even in an area where one hardly suspects it, namely in human resources. There is currently a fierce discussion about Social Recruiting Days and esoteric HR experts.

Esoteric in recruiting and personnel selection: 5 reasons against profilers, physiognomes and clairvoyants Esoteric in recruitment and personnel selection: 5 reasons against profilers, physiognomes and clairvoyants


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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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Esotericism is absurd

Some years ago, a fortune teller called for me. Appropriately at the beginning of the new year, to oracle my future with tarot cards, horoscopes, etc. And so it happened that I was told that this year I would be a bestseller and become rich and famous ... .-)

But no, it was not like that. In fact, a fortune teller called me. But not to oracle me the future, but to learn from me an information on starting a business: namely, what about the sales tax and fortune-telling. Not only this experience has led to my phone number not so easy to issue. And it shows how absurd the topic of esotericism is.

Beware, fortune tellers on the phone

Apart from the fact that on the basis of the legal services law, I should not give such legal information and therefore did not do so but redirected the lady on an information page on the subject: How can you be a fortune teller and do not know something like that?

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I mean, for a good fortune teller, starting up a business would be a breeze. Not only that, I have always thought that they could find legal pitfalls and all the rules in one fell swoop - preferably floating in front of the coffee grounds in front of the law book, or the computer - they would have to predict all the problems and be able to handle the same.

Can fortune tellers not foresee your own success?

And they would have to know from the superior, which business idea is worth investing and which makes them rich. Therefore, you could then also top consultants and would not need to lament experts for free information.

But since all this was not the case in this case, I certify this business idea no resounding success. And that does not include divination. Or do you want to be advised by someone who does not seem to be able to advise himself, no matter what?

Esotericism in the personnel selection

Seriously, unfortunately, the topic is not so funny as it sounds at first click, because esoteric is currently booming. In society, in politics - and unfortunately also in the usually so reputable human resources.

Once again, the topic is being discussed in recruiting circles. Reason: A methodically not indisputable profiler named Suzanne Grieger-Langer, who will be appearing on September as a keynote speaker at renowned Social Recruiting Days.

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Questionable and pseudo-scientific

Henner boyhood has addressed the subject and gives an overview of the various questionable methods available on the market:

“Imagine there is software that uses a 15-minute speech analysis to assess whether an applicant is suitable for a job or not. Wouldn't that be a dream? Or a tool that assesses the suitability of a candidate based on 100 written words. Everything algorithm-based and of course without prejudice. Or there would be a “profiler” who uses the analysis of hairstyle, glasses type and body shape as well as written samples to assess whether an applicant is really the right one. A dream, isn't it? It is clear that someone with almost supernatural skills should not be missing from hip recruiting events. And so this “profiling talent” named Suzanne Grieger-Langer enriches this year's Social Recruiting Days as a keynote speaker. The HR community is (rightly) outraged. ”

Reaction of the customers

Unfortunately, the methods so ironically funny here are all quite real and Grieger-Langer evidently raises not only questions regarding their methodology but also their CV, like that Bielefeld district court confirmed in July.

Update: Daber, the Social Recruiting Days have now responded to public pressure and removed the controversial speaker as a keynote speaker from the program. Grieger-Langer will now answer your questions in a podium discussion.

Nothing new: Clever integration between science and esotericism

The perfidious thing about all these examples is the clever interaction between scientifically founded methods and esotericism, such as Dr. Uwe Peter Kanning, Professor for Business Psychology at the FH Osnabrück and also Speaker at the Social Recruiting Days in September, in one Interview at Spiegel Online already 2010 reported.

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He shows that the topic of esotericism in the selection of personnel is not that new and reports very critically about questionable methods in personnel selection such as the selection by star sign. Although this is easily recognizable to many as a mumpitz, there are also methods that have now undergone a pseudo-scientific appreciation and therefore comparatively uncritically considered and become and thereby have also found their way into reputable career advisory literature.

Pseudoscientific appreciation

A good example is graphology, which is better known as handwriting recognition: eg at that time I learned at school that one writes CVs by hand, because the Company draw conclusions from the typeface. Allegedly, after all, 2,4 percent of German companies rely on graphology in personnel selection, according to Kanning in the interview.

But I think really blatantly the skull interpretation, the so-called psycho-physiognomy. The claims to be able to make statements about the personality based on the shape of the skull, the facial features, the shape of the nose and ears. This is not just nonsense, according to Kanning, but reminds me strongly of the National Socialist racial theory.

Why do so many believe the simple solutions?

Even if you're tempted to get annoyed that so many people are getting into the nonsense, Kanning also gives some clear explanations why even seasoned HR professionals are so impressed by such a hoax:

“All pseudosciences offer quick solutions and promise that the applicant cannot manipulate the result, which is possible - even if only to a limited extent - during an interview. Nobody can falsify his skull or constellation. That sounds very attractive to many HR managers, they are looking for something like a secret formula with which they can see through people. ”

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Advice in an uncertain world

Add to this the fact that more and more people are seeking advice and guidance in an increasingly uncertain world - just think of political events, terrorism and climate change, all things that scare many people.

And also, that one wants to find the right job or as a personnel the right employee, no, because you can not justify everything else - this unalterable decision makes many people afraid. Incidentally, that explains why that Interest in futurologists is greatAlthough they work comparatively seriously, they also promise a surefire look into the future.

Serious media also report uncritically about esotericism

Yet this idea is as old as humanity: the Greeks asked the oracle of Delphi, the Teutons their runes. Others read from the entrails of animal or human sacrifices. Today there are lucky charms, tarot cards, horoscopes, physognomes or profilers and octupusse or goats predict the World Cup results - and reputable media report about it.

You may still remember the Octupuss Paul, who predicted the results at the World Cup 2010 and was always right? It may be a fun idea to use an animal as a World Cup oracle. But that the topic was also hyped up in reputable media (Focus, Spiegel, WDR and even the New York Times), I found simply unbelievable! At that time nobody came up with the idea to ask if the mussel meat had been prepared accordingly?

Be critical, instead of looking for simple explanations

Man is also in 21. Century is not a rationally controlled, enlightened being, but in search of simple explanations and a secure view into the future, which takes away their fear and makes them sleep soundly?

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In fact, it almost seems as if reason is declining in times of political and climate crises. My advice is: let it stay. You do not need that! Rely on yourself much better than superstition. And be critical if someone offers you the services and promises you the blue of the sky.

5 good reasons against the tendency to the occult

Here are 5 good reasons that speak against the hiring of psychics, card reading Physognomen and similar charlatans.

  1. You do not have to look to the future because you can make your future much better yourself.
  2. They want to oracle into the future to see what happens. The other way around, a shoe becomes: If you think that something is going to happen, it's more likely that it will happen - the self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak. Ever thought about it?
  3. It is not worth spending the hard earned money on some superstitious stuff - invest the money better in your future.
  4. If you are currently in a transitional phase or are a bit unsure, you are probably more receptive to such messages. Look for comfort and attention rather with loved ones instead of the occult.
  5. Are you looking for advice on a specific event? You do not mean, their common sense and their assessment of things is a better guide than your superstition. And after all, that's exactly what you're aiming for - right? Then you do not need an oracle.


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  1. Sobotka

    But is not the expression self-fulfilling prophecy also esoteric? or why should that happen what I think? Is there evidence for this? And why should the handshake say something or the body language. I find this psychophysiognomy not much different than what is taught so far and that often incomprehensible and obscure. I've already visited many reputable reputable seminars and there was not much left in the end! Even Jörg Löhr uses the power of thought! What's this? Provable? No. So it should not be ridiculed in absolutism.

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Mr. Sobotka,
      thanks for your comment. Of course, much of what is taught in this regard is already close to esotericism - people just want to believe that they themselves have an impact on events. Therefore, the term self-fulfilling prophecy here is quite ironic to understand.
      Thank you.

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