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Irrelevant Hiring Criteria.

by Miki Saxon


Over the years hundreds of bosses have explained to me why top colleges and high GPAs were critical to hiring the best people.

They explained why hiring only from top schools assured top candidates.

They enlightened me as to the importance of high GPAs in their hiring decisions.

What they never did was convince me.

They blustered when I told them neither had much value when evaluating candidates.

And they got downright irate when I added that whatever value they did have dropped 20% a year, since much (most?) of what they learned was rendered irrelevant in the next five years.

Actually, the value probably drops faster now, since the world has sped up a lot since I said that.

If you find yourself disputing this and still putting your faith in ‘brand-name’ schools and high GPAs I suggest you pay close attention to Harvard’s grade inflation.

“It’s really indefensible,” Harvey C. Mansfield, a faculty member for more than five decades, said in a telephone interview. (…) “I thought the most prevalent grade was an A-minus, which is bad enough,” when I asked the question [about the most frequently given grade], it was worse.”

But even Mansfield goes along with it.

Mansfield described how, in recent years, he himself has taken to giving students two grades: one that shows up on their transcript and one he believes they actually deserve.

“I didn’t want my students to be punished by being the only ones to suffer for getting an accurate grade,” he said, adding that administrators must take the lead in curbing the trend.

While I agree grade inflation isn’t limited to Harvard, I’m willing to bet it’s more prevalent at brand-name schools.

Hopefully, the next time you find yourself dazzled by a combination of school and GPA, you’ll remember Professor Mansfield and take both with a pound or two of salt.

Flickr image credit: Sage Ross

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