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Do Perfect College Grades Make a Perfect Employee?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Taillor Maizer – Associate Professor at the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication. His opinions are his own.

Many organizations use applicants’ GPAs in the hiring process. In the case of fresh grads who have just left their educational institutions and lack work experience, employers have nothing left but to use their grades as a hiring criterion. This information helps them to see how well prospective employees performed during their studies. Almost half of all organizations in the USA still tend to eliminate candidates whose grade point averages are not greater than three.

However, there are many people who agree with Google’s claim that grades are something that every employer should turn a blind eye to when hiring. Therefore, there are many of those who ignore GPAs during the selection process. Let’s find out whether companies should take grades as an essential criterion for hiring or not.

University is an artificial environment

There is little evidence indicating that relying on the applicant’s GPAs has something in common with the quality of hiring. In fact, grades cannot show recruiters how well students will do in the real conditions. If the applicants have top grade average points, it only means that they have succeeded in an academic environment which is quite different from the real world. ]

These undergraduates are likely to fail upon graduation as they will be required to solve problems which have no obvious solutions. To succeed at work, one should be curious, productive, and enterprising; however, these traits are poorly suited for a college environment.

Therefore, one cannot say for sure whether an straight A student trained to succeed in school settings will make great progress upon graduation or not. In every way, paying attention to the applicant’s GPAs is a stumbling block which prevents employers from hiring talent.

High GPAs vs. Talent

In order to make a workforce decision, it is crucial to identify what kind of skills prospective workers have, how high the level of their expertise is, and what qualities they possess.

Unfortunately, many recruiters fail to implement predictive hiring or just lack the relevant tools and thus turn to inaccurate methods of selecting workers such as CVs, interviews, and GPAs.

Indeed, businesses should strive to broaden their hiring criteria to make better workforce decisions and to look further than the candidates’ grades and their resumes. For companies, it is important to discern talents, and they should care less about the grades as in the long run they will not matter at all.

GPAs don’t indicate intelligence level

In fact, a student’s grades are a better indicator of how diligent and self-disciplined they are rather than how intelligent they are. And most companies want more than just diligence and self-discipline in their workers. While the correlation between GPAs and self-discipline is slightly less than 70%, in the case of intelligence level, this number is slightly more than 30%.

In fact, academic achievements, productivity, competencies, and talent are not indivisibly connected. An applicant’s high grades are not necessarily related to their strong work ethic, a great fit for a job, and tendency to meet various challenges steadily. Indeed, there is little to no correlation between high academic achievements and great work progress.

Why grades are not the best hiring criteria

Some skills, like memorizing and note-taking, which are crucial for academic success are of a great importance for job success as well. Meanwhile, team-building, decision-making, problem-solving, and leadership skills are something that one doesn’t quantify by grades.

A structured academic environment greatly differs from the work environment. Most of the time, the candidate’s academic progress doesn’t indicate their achievements in a frontline position. This is mainly because undergraduates need one set of skills, and employees require a completely different one.

In fact, not all GPAs correspond to the same high standard. For example, a 3.5 GPA from a college with an average GPA of 3.0 is not comparable to a 3.5 GPA from a university with an average GPA of 3.8. More often, hiring companies don’t take this into account and thus make wrong decisions.

There is a strong possibility that those with top grades spend too much time learning and getting ready for classes and tests. These students are most likely rigid, bad-tempered, and over-cautious and, for employees, these traits are highly undesirable.

While students tending to perfectness usually do well within college settings, at the workplace, this sometimes may hinder them from carrying out their duties fast and delivering various services in time and thus they are more likely to end up with overwhelming workloads and high levels of stress and pressure.

Businesses are in need of workers possessing skills which are essential for doing a great job. They tend to hire employees who are aimed at achieving good results and are planning on staying for a long period. However, such criteria as grades, CVs, and interview are of no use when it comes to determining whether a particular person is a good fit for a job or not. To make the right decision, all employers should take advantage of other hiring tools to measure applicants’ expertise required for a particular position.

KPIs are more important than grades

Indicating the needed competencies and traits of prospective workers is crucial in identifying substantial performance factors. These are not the high GPAs recruiters should look for, but enhanced skills, high motivation, and abilities.

KPIs are related to actual outcomes which are of a great importance to the business in whole, like AHT, sales, efficiency, and CSAT. At the least, these indicators should reflect the goals of the company. For instance, when evaluating an applicant’s qualifications for a position in a contact center, recruiters should pay more attention to their quality of service, AHT, and first-call resolution.

By measuring the competencies of prominent workers, companies can find out what helps them to result in success and thus are able to develop an effective workforce. Upon these measurements, they can create pre-hire tests which they then use to hire candidates with the required competencies.

In conclusion, during the selection of talent which involves the use of prospective tools, employers don’t need to consider grades as something that can measure the candidates’ intelligence level, problem-solving, multitasking, and leadership skills, as well as their ability to think outside of the box and foresee the needs of clients and society in general.

No matter whether they are high or low, grades are of no use when it comes to evaluating the applicants’ ability to collaborate with colleagues and clients and strike a happy medium in conflict situations.

Disregarding a candidate’s grades, employers can eliminate those who are not a good fit for their companies or those who lack the qualities required for various work operations.

Taillor Maizer

Taillor Maizer is an Associate Professor at the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication. He teaches academic writing and speaking to graduate students.

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