Asking for personal references, educational background and previous work experiences are all par for the course when interviewing a potential hire. But, to truly find the right fit for your company, should you be asking for a candidate's SAT scores?
It seems as though that's a preferred tactic for many companies and human resources managers. From consulting firms and software companies to communication and advertising agencies, employers still want to know how job applicants did on their college entrance exams, The Wall Street Journal recently reported.
"When you're hiring people and they don't have a lot of work experience, you have to start with some set of data points," Eric Eden, the vice president of marketing for Cvent, a Virginia-based event management software company, explained to WSJ. Yet some employers ask for ACT and SAT scores of applicants who haven't set foot in a high school in decades. The Journal quoted one executive as saying that the test scores, which are often taken in one's junior and senior year of high school, are a good indicator that a candidate has "'the basic building blocks of success,' such as critical thinking, problem-solving skills and quantitative abilities."
The same goes for grade point averages. “GPA is one component that we’re looking at,” Chris Franck, principal and national strategy and operations MBA recruiting leader for Deloitte Consulting, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “A student’s ability to perform in an academic environment is important to us and our clients.”
But are these bygone metrics really a good way to determine one's abilities? While some managers swear by them, the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT, told the Journal that the test is really better suited for estimating how well a student will perform in their first year of college. Given these caveats, it's understandable that other companies have gone a different route. Well-known for its unique hiring practices, Google recently shared how it finds its top candidates. The mega company followed the same SAT and GPA-focused tack, but shifted gears into a more holistic view of a person two years ago.
"[Many colleges] don’t deliver on what they promise," Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations for Google, explained to The New York Times. "You don’t learn the most useful things for your life." Now they ask questions that help them determine a person's emotional IQ, and their ability to absorb and act on new information and to lead a team while knowing when to step back.
These types of skills are increasingly more attractive to employers, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. “Employers are seeking evidence of the soft skills needed to succeed in the workplace in the college students they’re recruiting,” Marilyn Mackes, NACE’s executive director, said in a press release. Soft skills such as the “ability to work in a team structure,” “ability to make decisions and solve problems" and “ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work" were the top three most important skills or qualities employers look for in a potential hire.
Definitely more telling than an ability to solve a particularly vexing word analogy or math problem.
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