Google no longer uses GPA and test scores for hiring

G.P.A. and test scores are worthless as criteria for hiring, said a top human resource executive at Google in a recent interview with the New York Times (full article here).

Implication:

Not only is the cost of the U.S. higher education spiraling out of control, it is increasingly getting out of touch with the needs of the real world.

A candidate’s G.P.A. and test scores are also useless predictors of an employee’s future performance (didn’t I hear “Past performance does not guarantee results” somewhere else before?), according to Laszlo Bock, senior vice president for people operations at Google.

To wit:

After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different. You’re also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently.

Another reason is that I think academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment. One of my own frustrations when I was in college and grad school is that you knew the professor was looking for a specific answer. You could figure that out, but it’s much more interesting to solve problems where there isn’t an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.

Being in the forefront of technology and constantly experimenting new ways to doing things, Google might provide a glimpse into the emerging thinking/re-thinking and strategies behind corporations in their hiring practices as a result of the growing knowledge mismatch between the type of skill set the industries are looking for and the type of graduates the status quo education system is rolling off their assembly lines.

A few more tidbits gleaned from the interview:

  • Google no longer asks for transcript, G.P.A. or test scores unless a candidate is just a few years out of school.
  • There are now teams inside Google where 14% of the team members have never gone to college.
  • Hiring managers and head hunters are increasingly placing less emphasis on resumes but instead opting to study a candidate via their online presence such as Facebook and LinkedIn which often paint a much broader and closer-to-reality profile of the candidate.

What does that mean to you if you are in college or about to enter one? Well, here are a few things you should think about:

  • Your academic performance while in college probably has no correlation to your future performance in the workplace as Google asserts. So don’t get overly excited if you are top in class, thinking that the future is so preordained with so much sunlight that you will have to wear shades. On the other hand, if you are mediocre in school, don’t despair, either. It does not mean you cannot be successful in the workplace. More and more hiring companies are willing to overlook you test scores as well.
  • Start thinking about building a social media presence. This is where hiring companies will troll to find the real you. By the way, think twice about posting something on Facebook which you wish any future hiring managers will never see.
  • If you are the parents of teenagers who are still in high school and are not ready to think ahead that far about their future just yet, you might want to re-evaluate the entire strategy on education for them. The wisdom of the traditional thinking – getting a college degree at all cost, no matter what degree – is becoming more questionable by the day. A paradigm shift in education is around the corner and other alternatives will probably become acceptable and mainstream by the time your kids finish high school. More on that subject in our future posts.
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