In the past few weeks, I have read a couple of posts talking about GPA and its usefulness in the hiring process. Like many things in HR, there are a variety of opinions and viewpoints on this. (My friend and a partner in crime Dave Ryan writes his perspective here while another post on TLNT can be found here) It’s amazing the differences and certainly the perspectives matter. As someone who is based in a town with a Big Ten research university, I frequently see the disparities between those who take a loose approach toward the GPA and those who look at it first and make immediate judgments based upon what they see. Both have suitable arguments about why they think the way they do.
Those who emphasize the GPA of students or recent grads point out that by an objective measure, these individuals have performed best within the system they were in and worked hard to achieve something. It is these newly minted workers who will find a way to succeed in the systems we have in the workplace and they have demonstrated that they are intelligent enough to be able to handle the rigors of the academic world. Having a high GPA may also demonstrate that they have a work ethic that allowed them to resist the pressure of college life and not surrender to things that did not provide the benefit of learning from an accomplished expert in the field of study selected by the student. These are all valuable, especially to someone who has little to no work experience.
Accepting a looser approach to the GPA debate also has a strong argument. Once out of school, there is rarely a syllabus or work to be graded. Often, classes that have little to no relevance of the person’s chosen vocation are part of the calculation and can affect the number without reflecting the true strengths of the individual. My own undergraduate GPA was adversely affected by physics and I dare say my deficiencies in that have not brought down any HR related processes I have worked on!
By looking solely at a GPA, the potential to miss the bigger picture that each person represents grows and we miss the opportunity to judge the whole person. Like everything else in the hiring process, there are pros and cons to using factors that are presented to us. One aspect in the GPA to consider is the true strength of the number itself. Who are we to judge that the 3.40 earned at school A is better than school B? While my undergraduate GPA was not close to a perfect 4.0, I am happy to point that the one in my MBA program is! Does that really matter? Given the myriad factors at work, to me the GPA is just not that strong an indicator of future performance in the workplace. Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below!Image credit – CollegeToCareers