GPAs as Interviews

The New York Times recently reported about some changes to Google’s hiring and screening processes.  It’s interesting to think about ‘how do I find the best employees’.  But what what do you think about using the GPA as a screener?

Fortunately for me, I had a pretty high GPA, so I probably qualified even under Google’s strict policies.  But, I have to admit it was strange to put my never-referenced GPA onto my Google application.  It has been so long since I used it that I had actually forgotten what it was. 

The Times article claims:

“Unfortunately, most of the academic research suggests that the factors Google has put the most weight on — grades and interviews — are not an especially reliable way of hiring good people.”

I think the Times is wrong.  I don’t think there is academic research which supports this at all.  I have yet to meet a person that was a successful student that didn’t become the same type of employee.  These people are smart, work hard, and love to work.  It’s in their DNA, they are often “Type A”, and they are always successful.  As much as we all hate to think that our college DNA could brand us for the rest of our lives, it actually may be one of the better metrics. 

The Times could have said that “just because you didn’t have a high GPA doesn’t mean that you won’t be a good employee.”  This is certainly true as well.  There are plenty of great people out there that didn’t find school interesting enough to do well, yet are perfectly qualified.  I think that Google’s change in policy is really about finding these people.  You always need to find new ways to screen candidates.  Maybe the people that didn’t pass the easy screening before would actually be great employees.  Is there another metric, however?  Of that I’m skeptical.

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