Being a Smart Cookie Doesn’t Prove You’re More Successful: Why Hiring the Best-Fit is More Crucial

Let’s start this blog with a question – how can you tell if a person is smart?

  • Students with straight A’s?
  • The kid at school who can recite a hundred digits of pi?
  • Child prodigies who got admitted into top universities at the age of ten?

Indeed, people who have the capacity to memorize an impressive number of digits in order, or who understand complex concepts at a young age even adults can’t grasp, will likely score higher on the intelligence scale and give the impression that they’re superior in learning. However, is the difference between someone who scored 90 on a test versus another who got 70 really a determining factor of whether a person is smart or not?

The idea to “study for the sake of good grades” is almost a societal norm ingrained in our minds, for which we tend to focus too much on the results that we end up using these numbers as a prediction of success. Likewise, as pre-employment testing slowly becomes one of the more dominant methods of modern hiring, we feel the need to remind managers the purpose of these assessments and how results should be interpreted.

Psychopaths are Smart, But Do You Want to Hire Them?

It’s undeniably natural for hiring managers to put a focus on a candidate’s abilities and favour those who score high on it. After all, it does imply a greater capacity to learn and isn’t that what matters most? However, it is crucial to also remember that well-rounded decisions are driven by multiple factors – therefore, unwise to settle before considering other aspects like a person’s interests and personality. For someone who may be proficient with numbers, it doesn’t necessarily mean you live and breathe spreadsheets. In a similar but figurative manner, regardless of how smart psychopaths are typically portrayed on TV or in movies, how well do you think they’ll fit in at work, and would you ever consider hiring them?

Best-Fit > Intelligence

As mentioned, a good hiring decision should start with determining a person’s abilities, interests and personality. The following step, which we call it the benchmarking process at Prevue, is to match the candidate’s results with those required for the position. While it’s easy to define technical requirements of a job, such as professional qualifications or the ability to use a computer, it is much more difficult to identify a person’s approach to work situations based on personal characteristics and preference. Job profiles or benchmarks, in this case, can help confirm whether a candidate will excel in work environments parallel to your company’s. For instance, if the job calls for high levels of self-discipline and organization, a candidate who’s a slower learner, but more self-sufficient and conscientious, may be a better fit than someone who is a very quick learner, but is very reactive and naturally self-sufficient.

Remind yourself that, ideally, you want to bring in someone who has competent skills; is motivated by the nature of the job; AND has no difficulty fitting into your company’s work culture. Think of it as matchmaking – wouldn’t you want to find someone whom you’re compatible with?

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