I found a good job candidate with a low GPA but better work experience and extracurricular activities. How do I evaluate this applicant?

Updated on : January 21, 2022 by Finley Orr



I found a good job candidate with a low GPA but better work experience and extracurricular activities. How do I evaluate this applicant?

I'm not going to answer this specifically, partly because many of my peers have responded (some better, some worse, but I'll let you judge what you feel is useful for you), and partly because without knowing the specialty, the school, and work, there is no good way to answer concretely.

In general, the problem is that this data, the GPA, in isolation, tells you almost nothing about the candidate, and you have clearly said that you do not know how to evaluate a GPA in isolation, because you have interviewed this guy. and believes that it is better than the candidates with higher GPAs.

What you don't know is how h

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I'm not going to answer this specifically, partly because many of my peers have responded (some better, some worse, but I'll let you judge what you feel is useful for you), and partly because without knowing the specialty, the school, and work, there is no good way to answer concretely.

In general, the problem is that this data, the GPA, in isolation, tells you almost nothing about the candidate, and you have clearly said that you do not know how to evaluate a GPA in isolation, because you have interviewed this guy. and believes that it is better than the candidates with higher GPAs.

What you don't know is how your GPA compares to that of others. It's not your fault, partly because of the training and (frankly) conditioning you've received, and partly because that single piece of data has no context beyond a possible range of 2.0-4.0. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all schools published the mean, the standard distribution, and some assessment of the normality of the distribution for each major? Then you would only have to worry about the relative competitiveness of admissions, and you would be ready to compare candidates in reality. It would also be widening racial / ethnic and socioeconomic (and possibly gender) disparities, but ... that's another problem. Some schools and programs have measurable grade inflation, and top-tier private schools are believed to be the worst,

An anecdote is that I once interviewed a candidate who had a master's degree in computer science with an excellent GPA from a branch campus of a large and excellent audience R1 (once considered the top level of universities (colleges are evaluated separately ), but much disputed and officially abandoned measure). I asked him as an easy-to-answer question "What did you do in graduate school?" A typical response would be about an interesting course or project. Said: "I wrote some programs in Visual Basic." His interview was essentially over at that point.

If you really care about a student's college performance, you need a transcript. With that, you can (pretty quickly, once you get used to recognizing patterns) discern.

Let me give you two candidates, both based on recent graduates that I had hired and reinforced by the many students I have worked with while seeking internships, co-ops, jobs, and graduate programs (a large part of my career). Specifically, these are in the general field of computer science. Names changed to protect privacy. These examples point out how much more information you can get from a transcript, which I requested when allowed (it's always legal, it's just that some companies have inexplicable rules).

Sandy was from a very good school, she majored in CS which was not in her school's engineering department, but she had a fair GPA, a hair below 3.0. He had struggled in his freshman year with courses like calculus, but did reasonably well (not stellar) in general education and liberal arts courses. His grades in math and core courses went up steadily, but not rapidly. By the end of his coursework, he was getting A with some A's and B +. She was able to speak well about her entire educational experience and commented that she had started school poorly prepared because she was the first in her family to go to college, and that she felt her preparation for high school could have been better (code for ' I went to a shitty and bad high school '). She had good extracurricular activities for the last several years, both computer-related and non-computer related, and she had a senior project, not a thesis, but a considerable one, that she could speak well of. Overall, she interviewed well and I hired her as a software engineer and I have no regrets. I'm still a little in touch with her, and she completed a part-time professional master's degree, had made significant strides at another company that was a great fit, and had also paid for her two younger siblings to go to college. Overall, she interviewed well and I hired her as a software engineer and I have no regrets. I'm still a little in touch with her, and she completed a part-time professional master's degree, had made significant strides at another company that was a great fit, and had also paid for her two younger siblings to go to college. Overall, she interviewed well and I hired her as a software engineer and I have no regrets. I'm still a little in touch with her, and she completed a part-time professional master's degree, had made significant strides at another company that was a great fit, and had also paid for her two younger siblings to go to college.

Then there was Chad. Chad's GPA was maybe 3.3, below what my company normally hired for, but we didn't have a permanent policy. Chad took six years to graduate. He had never failed a class, but his transcript was covered with W (he dropped out before the deadline to receive a grade, usually mid-semester). His general education course grades were typically C, as was a portion of his core courses, but most of his core courses, when he stayed long enough to earn a grade, were A. He had minimal extracurricular activities beyond of a social fraternity, and none in computer science. From discussions about your college experience, It was pretty clear that the reason he got an A in calculus in his first semester and had to withdraw from two generations in his first semester was that if he weren't interested in it right away, he would screw it up. off, and this pattern continued in the specialty and until the last year (sixth). Our software engineering positions required diverse skills beyond programming, and I was opposed to hiring him, but he wasn't my hire, so it wasn't my decision. We hired him, spent the next three months giving him every possible chance to succeed, but he reacted harshly to criticism and refused to change his behavior. Not only was it not particularly productive, but attempts to help it grow were met with a complete stone wall. We spent the next three months in the process of firing him, during which it became my responsibility because I was in the habit of pulling new employees out of the fire when others thought they had lost their cause. I was in favor of letting him go before this, because I didn't think he could make my "magic" work. With someone who didn't care He was right, although believe me I tried. When I finally had to let him go (which I always do gently, since it's never fun), he said he wasn't surprised, that everyone had allied with him from the start, they called me an asshole and slander, and he told me it didn't matter. because his parents were rich and he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? and he told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? and he told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)? but only for the first four years)? He called me an asshole and slander, and told me it didn't matter because his parents were rich and that he would go back to school because of MS. Color me surprised, his parents were rich; How else could he have paid for six years of a private school (they give a lot of money to needy students, but only for the first four years)?

Okay, I'll talk to your boy a bit. Let's call him Bob. If Bob needed the money, well, that shows initiative and commitment; He wasn't alone in school for fun for four years. Assuming that extracurricular activities are at least partially related to professional development and not being the champion vice president of beer drinking in a social fraternity (I don't care that there are people in them, just that for the majority that was all that they made). did, and they believe that a few hours of community service required doing something like "shooting the hoop for childhood cancer" counts as diversity), is exceptional in another dimension: few students working too long to pay for college, especially those who start new businesses, have time for lots of extracurricular work. Every graduating class will have students with a GPA of up to 4.0, but not all will have a student who does everything you describe and does it well. Even if you don't have a transcript to look at, if you think this guy would be the best candidate if he didn't consider the GPA, then he would go to hell with the GPA.

As someone who comes from a lower middle class background and was told that work is before studying, out of sheer necessity, I will tell you to forget about the GPA and look at the person with all the real life indicators of their achievements in instead of the academic. In high school I worked a lot (and also taught dance to allow me to take dance classes that my parents couldn't afford) and I slept in class all the time and never studied. My rank in school was 190 out of 250. I got a 35 on my ACT. Bachelor's, the same. I worked hard in the classes that interested me the most

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As someone who comes from a lower middle class background and was told that work is before studying, out of sheer necessity, I will tell you to forget about the GPA and look at the person with all the real life indicators of their achievements in instead of the academic. In high school I worked a lot (and also taught dance to allow me to take dance classes that my parents couldn't afford) and I slept in class all the time and never studied. My rank in school was 190 out of 250. I got a 35 on my ACT. Bachelor's, the same. I worked hard in the classes that interested me the most and just managed the others, because working long hours required it. As a result, I would get A in the classes I tested and C in the others, equal to 3.0. When I went to law school in my late 20s (with the help of my work experience, essay, and my LSAT score, NOT my gpa), I was finally in a position to focus on qualifications and not multiple jobs, and I was in fifth place in my class, although I also did a job. That's my only anecdote, but what I mean is that my GPA was never important to me when the priority was to gain experience and earn money.

Can you look at the transcripts? My undergraduate experience taught me that when I was worrying about a class or two and time was tight, I could ALWAYS excel at tests / assignments / projects for the class or two that I could focus on, and I think the deliverables of those few classes is a better indicator than my ability to juggle 5/6 classes at once and a job (or three).

GPA is not "all that".

Only recently did I have proper language to describe my own story arc, thanks to a post by Michael O. Church: I work very hard on things that interest me or consider important, and not so much on other things.

With a GPA close to 3.0, I was admitted to the Computer Science Ph.D. programs at Harvard, MIT, CMU, Stanford, Caltech, and Rice.

I admit I had "excuses": I worked more than 30 hours a week for my entire college career, I got married just before the start of my junior year, I started a couple of companies, I was involved in college.

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GPA is not "all that".

Only recently did I have proper language to describe my own story arc, thanks to a post by Michael O. Church: I work very hard on things that interest me or consider important, and not so much on other things.

With a GPA close to 3.0, I was admitted to the Computer Science Ph.D. programs at Harvard, MIT, CMU, Stanford, Caltech, and Rice.

It is true that I had "excuses": I worked more than 30 hours a week for my entire college career, I got married just before the start of my junior year, I started a couple of companies, I participated in competitive college athletics. But those were just excuses. I worked hard on the things that mattered to me and did enough to cope with the things that didn't matter to me. If the other things mattered, I would have killed them.

Fortunately, the professors who wrote my recommendations knew all of that, as did my consulting clients, various people I worked for, and students who worked on projects with me.

Go with your instincts. A low GPA is only an indication of how much or little a student is willing to put on GRADES. What they put in LEARNING, or PERFORMANCE, is something else entirely.

The candidate sounds like an entrepreneur who is more motivated to actually work than to learn work theory.

Obviously it depends on the industry you are in. If the subject at school is absolutely vital to the work you will be doing (like, I don't know, if they are in medicine, for example) maybe it is relevant.

If they managed to get ahead and graduate while doing all those other things, this is someone you want to hire. It is also possible that the candidate has other challenges that are invisible or do not want to reveal at this time (mayb

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The candidate sounds like an entrepreneur who is more motivated to actually work than to learn work theory.

Obviously it depends on the industry you are in. If the subject at school is absolutely vital to the work you will be doing (like, I don't know, if they are in medicine, for example) maybe it is relevant.

If they managed to get ahead and graduate while doing all those other things, this is someone you want to hire. It is also possible that the candidate has other challenges that are invisible or do not want to reveal at the moment (perhaps a health problem or ADHD), and that you cannot discriminate, but may have to adapt.

Work experience and extracurriculars indicate what the candidate is passionate about, it seems, and if that is relevant to what you are hiring for, then I would say go for it.

Students who only know how to be a student may not be the best hired, so it may be best to focus on whether or not the candidate can do the job themselves.

Hello there -

Just curious: how did you actually verify their title?

Not long ago I learned (from a Forrester Research report) that more than half of LinkedIn members lie about their education and experience. And they can get a job without being discovered. And the trend is increasing, apparently because HR / recruiters don't bother to check. I think this trend started after the crash of 2001, when companies started to find new ways to save a little money or time, and the trend became a permanent habit.

I have had a few contract jobs over the years and none of the HR / r

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Hello there -

Just curious: how did you actually verify their title?

Not long ago I learned (from a Forrester Research report) that more than half of LinkedIn members lie about their education and experience. And they can get a job without being discovered. And the trend is increasing, apparently because HR / recruiters don't bother to check. I think this trend started after the crash of 2001, when companies started to find new ways to save a little money or time, and the trend became a permanent habit.

I've had a few contract jobs over the years and none of the HR / recruiters called my references or called the HR departments to see if I was lying. A little funny, a little creepy.

Just to digress a bit: I've heard first-hand stories from a recruiter, like when a candidate has someone else do their phone screen, or even in-person interviews. I was surprised to hear a story of how a candidate made someone else go to the interview in person, pass the interview, and accept the job offer. The actual candidate then shows up for work to start their new job and cashes some paychecks before anyone notices that the two people look very similar. The suspicion arose when it was obvious that the real person had hardly any skills, and he rode the wave of deception for a surprisingly long time.

GPA is what you turn to when you don't have work experience. Grab it before someone else does. Don't question it or work to rationalize it. You know what he is capable of because he has experience!

Your job is to hire someone who can earn you income, not someone who can pass exams. I mean, unless your company makes money from testing, but what are the odds? If you have a history of doing it, that should be far more important than graduating with fancy Latin terms on your diploma.

I say this as someone with those fancy Latin terms on my diploma, by the way, and I'm (reasonably) proud

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GPA is what you turn to when you don't have work experience. Grab it before someone else does. Don't question it or work to rationalize it. You know what he is capable of because he has experience!

Your job is to hire someone who can earn you income, not someone who can pass exams. I mean, unless your company makes money from testing, but what are the odds? If you have a history of doing it, that should be far more important than graduating with fancy Latin terms on your diploma.

I say this as someone with those fancy Latin terms on my diploma, by the way, and I'm (reasonably) proud of that fact. However, my work experience is how I am hired.

GPA is four years of information condensed into one number. Therefore, a lot of information is lost. In research, GPA is somewhat correlated with cognitive ability and awareness (being efficient and organized), but the relationship is far from perfect.

I would suggest looking at Assessment Centers, which are a standardized objective method for rating applicants' performance in job-like scenarios. In short, ask him to do the work and then evaluate his performance.

Assessment centers can take time to develop depending on the job, so another option is to use a structured interview process with b

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GPA is four years of information condensed into one number. Therefore, a lot of information is lost. In research, GPA is somewhat correlated with cognitive ability and awareness (being efficient and organized), but the relationship is far from perfect.

I would suggest looking at Assessment Centers, which are a standardized objective method for rating applicants' performance in job-like scenarios. In short, ask him to do the work and then evaluate his performance.

Assessment centers can take time to develop depending on the job, so another option is to use a structured interview process with behavioral interview questions.

If you encounter this problem frequently, we recommend that you hire a recruitment consultant.

It seems like your question is really: how can I trust that this candidate's story is the truth? It seems that you are convinced of their business about the belief of gpa, and you think that achievement is worth more than gpa.

But then you also think that the story could be bs and that he could have been partying in college.

Since work ethic is your concern, perhaps you should ask him to do some kind of presentation for you and your team about your thought process regarding entrepreneurship and how you plan to bring that same dedication to your company. I think its authenticity would be evident in p

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It seems like your question is really: how can I trust that this candidate's story is the truth? It seems that you are convinced of their business about the belief of gpa, and you think that achievement is worth more than gpa.

But then you also think that the story could be bs and that he could have been partying in college.

Since work ethic is your concern, perhaps you should ask him to do some kind of presentation for you and your team about your thought process regarding entrepreneurship and how you plan to bring that same dedication to your company. I think its authenticity would become apparent under pressure.

don't hire it. Let it be. You will ruin the career of the poor with your middle class by being cautious, never taking a risky approach.
put it down and focus on your boring life. it has places to go and things to do.

A person's GPA is a fantastic indicator of how well the person cared about memorizing the material and how well they take the tests. Are they going to be memorizing material and taking quizzes at the job you're hiring for? Are you going to work in a classroom where you have to listen to lectures, consult a textbook, and turn in assignments? Otherwise, your GPA has as much of an impact on your ability to stand out in a role as your blood type.

If you are concerned about a bad hire and it is difficult to get rid of a bad hire, then you could try a hiring position to start or a temporary hire before moving on to full time. Interviews are difficult to really evaluate a person. Some are what they look like in the interview, others have had so much practice with interviews that they look good but don't work well. However, others are excellent and have many job options.

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