Hiring from only the Top Schools is Lazy

Hiring from top schools (or requiring degrees at all) is a simple proxy for intelligence and hard work. These things are hard to evaluate in an interview or two, so you say “well, if this candidate managed to get into Harvard and graduate theymust be smart and hard working!”

And you probably won’t be wrong, because the competition to get into the top schools is so fierce. But, just because you have to be smart to get into the Ivies (or other top schools) it doesn’t mean that if you’re smart you have to go to a top school.

So, instead of intensively evaluating a candidate, companies often let the admissions committees do it for them. Box checked, you advance to stage two.

Martin Casado wrote a Twitter thread that goes into why top school hiring is lazy and causes you to reject a whole lot of intelligent and qualified candidates. You can read the entire thread, unrolled, at Threader.

Casado uses this handy graph to help explain why you miss out on great people by limiting yourself to certain schools. (And, of course, by limiting yourself to people with degrees, although he doesn’t mention it. Some jobs do, indeed, require specific degrees and licenses, but many jobs do not.)

While Casado focuses on the top 10 percent, I like to point out that your company probably isn’t in the top 10 percent of employers. Why should the top 10 percent want to work for you?

It's Time To Start Recruiting Satisfactory Employees To Work At Okay Companies | Suzanne Lucas | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.

When you don’t take time to evaluate candidates base on anything other than their acceptance at a top school, what you’re really judging the candidate on is their high school performance. That’s utterly ridiculous. (Yes, you are judging on their graduation as well but generally, by limiting schools, you’re looking only at their high school performance.)

You don’t increase your diversity by limiting the alma mater to a few. If you want true diversity–of thought, experience, background, and race–you need to diversify your recruiting strategy as well.

Now, a few words about the term “lazy.” We all know that recruiters are often overworked and beholden to the hiring manager’s rules. If the hiring manager won’t interview someone from the state university, there’s no point in sourcing candidates from there. If the company will only pay for recruiting trips to a few golden schools, then that’s where you hire your entry-level employees.

However, do keep in mind that recruiters should be the subject matter experts on recruiting and should work to help hiring managers understand that by limiting their candidate pools, they reject great people.

Image by Janet Meyer from Pixabay

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4 thoughts on “Hiring from only the Top Schools is Lazy

  1. One thing that the tweet thread leaves out: quite a few people get into those institutions because their parents have money. The 2019 college admissions scandal exposed a lot of the practices, legitimate and not, that heavily weigh admission in favor of the privileged. So going to a top school does not necessarily mean someone is smart or hardworking.

  2. Every time I hear and read the “importance” given a top-10 college degree over another school, I shudder because that is assuming that the instructors are grinding out top-notch students. You can get a degree and have the minimum grade-point average (2.0), which is barely passing, in other words, you got all D’s. To me, that tells me, that actual classroom learning was not your strong point. Okay, there’s a big difference between theoretical learning and actual living the event, but what I am referring to is how much think-development did this person achieve and can they apply it to real life. Some people, especially those who attend top10 colleges learn the art of persuasion talks to actual factual knowledge, hence their ability to create believable fiction out of a fallacy. If that what your company needs go ahead and hire a glib speaker over an actual performer. Otherwise, where the degree is gotten has no effect on ability as a name has no weight in performance if the person was a mediocre student.

  3. Do you think that the inability to use intelligence tests (see the Supreme Court decision in Griggs v. Duke Power) has caused at least some of the “Degree required” qualifications?

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