Lyndsay Donhoff is a Silicon Valley startup company hiring manager. She earned an honors degree in psychology as an undergrad at the University of California at Santa Barbara while pursuing a graduate level course in evolutionary psychology. Lyndsay explains her role as a hiring manager: “My mission is to support our company in finding and developing the best talent for drchrono, where we enable physicians and healthcare professionals to use the latest health record technology to gain efficiency, reduce costs and create patient loyalty.

You studied evolutionary psychology — what is this?

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“As an undergraduate at UCSB, I was lucky enough to help conduct research at the Center for Evolutionary Psychology. Researchers in this field view human behavior as a product of cognitive mechanisms that were designed by natural selection and evolutionary pressures. These information-processing mechanisms in our brain have been useful to solve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. It’s a lens that has opened up a whole new way to understand human behavior.”

Are there key take-aways from your studies that apply in your current role? 

“With such a unique opportunity to study psychology through the lens of evolution, I’ve taken away some interesting insights into how the brain works. As a researcher trained to conduct interviews and gather objective data, it has helped me tremendously in my role as a hiring manager. During the interviews I conduct, everything counts. I make an effort to scan for and take note of behaviors like eye contact, speech cadence, posture, social positioning and communication style. Most of us collect this information automatically to form personal judgments of new people, but being more active in the process of collecting social and behavioral data helps me make more confident hiring decisions.”

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Why is psychology a great fit for a career in human resources?

“At drchrono, we pride ourselves in hiring some of the best sales, support and engineering staff in the world. Hiring the best team and creating a fun and positive place to work can be a challenge, but I’ve found that my educational background has prepared me extremely well for the job. Having a career in human resources requires an attention to small behavioral details and a deep understanding of human interaction. Studying the brain and how our evolutionary history has shaped our behavior helps me remain objective in my interviews.”

Is there a single question that opens a window to a personality during an interview?

“My favorite question to ask potential candidates is one that might throw someone off guard: “Tell me about the absolute worst 3-month period in your life.” This permits me a glimpse into the candidate’s life outside the interview process. Hearing about job experience and relevant skills can definitely be helpful, but it is also important to gather information about the big picture in order to make a confident and informed hiring decision.”

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Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Bay City Guide, AXS, Examiner and more.