Does a College GPA Matter in the Hiring Process?
Relying too much on a candidate's GPA might mean missing a huge opportunity to find, hire, and keep top talent
Not too long a ago, Google recruiter Laszlo Bock revealed in an interview with the New York Times that his team rarely looks at G.P.A. scores during the frontline hiring process, asserting that "G.P.A.’s are worthless criteria for hiring."
A high GPA does not guarantee success in a job
This is a bold statement, considering more than 50% of top employers automatically eliminate job applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0. However, research shows there is little evidence that GPA is directly linked to a company's quality of hire. During his interview, Bock went on to point out, "Academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment." But not necessarily in the real world.
Perhaps Bock knows something these other employers have missed. In many ways, relying on GPA is a stumbling block that stands in the way of hiring top talent.
How Much Does GPA Matter in the Talent Selection Process?
Having an accurate understanding of the skills, expertise, and qualities of your candidates is critical when it comes to making workforce decisions. Yet despite its vital importance, many organizations fall short when it comes to harnessing predictive hiring tools to drive their hiring strategies, opting instead for less accurate methods of judging candidates like interviews, resumes, and grades.
Trudy Steinfeld, New York University’s director of Wasserman Center for Career Development, implores organizations to broaden the criteria upon which they base their hiring decisions, and to look outside of a candidate's GPA and resume.
Employers want to know who will be able to hit the ground running, and according to Steinfeld, “[Businesses] assume a high G.P.A. will make someone successful. But being a successful employee requires social and communication skills."
Steinfeld adds, "Nobody even cares about G.P.A. after a few years.”
Additionally, one study suggests GPA is a greater indicator of self-discipline and effort than it is intellect. The study revealed the correlation between GPA and self-discipline to be 67%, while the correlation between GPA and intelligence was 32%.
What Can't a GPA Determine in Hiring?
As a static metric in talent acquisition process, GPA, job success, and skills are not all inextricably connected. GPA cannot determine an applicant’s work ethic, fit with a job, and tendency to persevere in the face of various personal and social challenges.
Global accounting firm Ernst & Young learned this lesson the hard way. After evaluating more than 400 employees, they found no indication that strong academic success translated into a higher job performance.
Why GPA Isn’t the Best Measure of a Candidate’s Potential Job Success
There are several reasons why GPA isn’t the best measure of a job candidate’s potential job success.
- Varied Environments: There is an undeniable difference between a structured classroom setting and a work environment. A candidate’s success in school is not, in most cases, indicative of his or her success in a frontline role, as different skill sets are required for these different settings.
- Differing Standards: Another major problem is that not all GPA's represent the same high standard. For example, a 3.6 GPA from a college that maintains an average GPA of 3.0 would not be equivalent to a 3.6 GPA from a university with a 3.7 GPA average. Unfortunately, most employers don't take these factors into consideration when taking a candidate’s GPA into account.
- KPI Alignment: Many of the skills critical for academic success – such as memorization and note-taking – are not as important in the workplace as they are in the classroom. Intangibles like team-building skills, problem-solving skills, or leadership capability cannot be easily quantified by a GPA or resume.
- Negative Attributes: While attributes like perfectionism often lead to a high overall GPA, these same qualities can undermine an applicant's success in certain roles that entail large workloads, high amounts of pressure, and speedy service.
A resume, interview, and GPA are not enough to determine whether or not your candidate is the right person for the job
Companies want individuals who mirror skills important to their work, achieve results and stay for an extended period of time. However, a resume, interview, and grade point average are not enough to determine whether or not your candidate is the right person for the job. To do this, you must measure the skills required for success in the role.
Worry More About Identifying KPIs, and Less About the Grade Point Average on a Resume
Identifying the desired traits and actions of candidates is essential in developing and deriving key performance indicators. It's not the grades of a candidate organizations should be focused on, but their skills, motivations, and abilities.
KPIs focus on specific outcomes of a job that are important to the company as a whole, like sales, average handle time, customer satisfaction and productivity. At a minimum, KPIs should be quantifiable and reflect the company’s overarching goals. A contact center, for instance, might consider an employee’s quality of service, first-call resolution, and average handle time in its evaluation.
Organizations with the greatest ability to build an effective workforce are those that measure the underlying qualities of top performers to determine what leads to success in any given role, then use validated pre-hire assessments to pinpoint those competencies in their candidates. These tests provide an accurate and efficient way to identify many vital traits before even meeting the candidates.
Talent Selection Processes using Predictive Hiring Tools
At the end of the day, when you build a talent selection process using predictive hiring tools, you don’t need to factor in a candidate’s GPA as a measurement for specific characteristics like leadership, learning ability, and multi-tasking – let the data from your assessments do that for you.
This way, you can help to eliminate candidates that wouldn't be a good "fit" for your company, or those that do not have the skills required to flourish within your specific work environment.
Companies can forecast the impact employees have on their future and more easily adapt to changes in the labor market by making quality of hire evaluations a rule, not exception. Learn more by downloading your free copy of Developing a Quality of Hire Report Card for A+ Results.
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Topics: Talent Selection Ideas