Hiring – Does College Matter?

Another essay by Paul Graham packed with great thoughts – this one on hiring, colleges, measuring performance of people, etc..

Practically everyone thinks that someone who went to MIT or Harvard or Stanford must be smart. Even people who hate you for it believe it. But when you think about what it means to have gone to an elite college, how could this be true? We’re talking about a decision made by admissions officers—basically, HR people—based on a cursory examination of a huge pile of depressingly similar applications submitted by seventeen year olds.

No one ever measures recruiters by the later performance of people they turn down.

There’s a lot of randomness in how colleges select people, and what they learn there depends much more on them than the college. Between these two sources of variation, the college someone went to doesn’t mean a lot. It is to some degree a predictor of ability, but so weak that we regard it mainly as a source of error and try consciously to ignore it.

Related: Hiring the Right WorkersMalcolm Gladwell, Synchronicity, College Admissions…Google and Paul Graham’s Latest EssayInterviewing and Hiring ProgrammersWhat Business Can Learn from Open SourceGoogle’s Answer to Filling Jobs Is an AlgorithmHiring: Silicon Valley StyleCurious Cat Management Improvement Career Connections

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