Are Candidate GPA's Impacting Your Diversity Goals?

Jessica N. Todmann
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A job candidate’s GPA can say a lot about the person. A high one can point to the probability that the individual can easily grasp information, has a high degree of focus, or simply devotes the time and energy necessary to succeed. Perhaps all three. Alternatively, seeing a low (or even average) GPA on a job seekers application can lead down a different path of thinking. More often than not, you’re left wondering whether their academic track is a harbinger of what’s to come as they perform in the workplace. As an employer, seeing the resume of a high achiever cross your desk is always a good thing, but don’t let those GPA digits dominate your perspective. Your business should want more than someone who can score high on an exam. 


In 2013, then Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google Laszlo Bock, made many heads turn when he stated that GPAs and test scores were “worthless” criterion for hiring a candidate. When asked to elaborate he stated that after the first few years, the skills necessary to excel within the Google workplace were unrelated to the skills needed to excel in college. He’s right. eSkill, a software company that provides online job assessments for employers, listed three of the best indicators of job performance as past behavior, conscientiousness and cognitive ability. Roll these three attributes into your candidate assessments and push your hiring managers to dig deeper into a job seekers profile before casting their resume aside. Doing so will help ensure your organization isn’t allowing a candidate GPAs to impact your diversity goals.


Research suggests that students with higher GPA scores are often a product of their environment, coming from households with higher income levels and with parents who had attended college. This is a direct reflection of the alienating characteristics of hiring processes that greatly, or solely, weigh GPA data into their decisions. If you want a work environment that truly embodies an inclusive environment, organizations must bore into the varying demographics that exist.


For starters, envision the many possibilities that could explain any candidate’s GPA score. There are students who have to work their way through college, have a family issue or loss that occurs, a student may have their own health issues—these are just some examples, but all of these things could make school more challenging.  As a recruiter or hiring manager, come from a place of kindness and human perspective over the facts and figures of a transcript.


Next, think of the factors that could make their GPA more of a nonfactor. Especially in roles requiring skills that can easily be a part of a candidate’s nature, such as having a knack for thinking logically or working well with children. Logic and reasoning are strong requirements for an Operations Manager, for instance. Whereas, a candidate who has a naturally outstanding repertoire with children could make a great school guidance counselor. Also think about how the candidate’s personal story could give insight into their candidacy potential. Has the individual ever been faced with a personal, family or societal dilemma, in which their response to that hurdle would showcase someone with a high degree of integrity? Did they help start, lead or organize any school or community-based functions, showcasing their management capabilities? 


To sum it up, candidates are human beings and therefore multifaceted creatures. As such, they are deserving of hiring managers that examine them from a multifaceted approach. One that’s conscious of job seeker diversity at the micro level and adaptable to the changes that come with, in their respective hiring practices.


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