Why Proven Skills are Paramount to Paper Champs

A little less than a year ago, some college friends and I founded MindSumo, an online recruiting tool that lets companies post challenges for college students to solve.  Thus, it is no surprise that I have a strong preference for hiring based on measurable performance, instead of solely relying on things like resumes and interviews when making hiring decisions.  

It seems like every few weeks I read another embarrassing article about someone who embellished, altered, or flat our lied on their resume to land a position.  These headlines turn into an inescapable black eye for any organization, but the consequences of poor hiring decisions extend beyond negative PR.  As any hiring manager knows, the cost of hiring the wrong person is tremendous.  It would be wonderful if we could wave a magic wand to undo the damage of hiring mistakes, but the reality is that tremendous amounts of money, time, and in some instances company morale are lost by bringing on the wrong people.

That being said, let me tell you why I'm a firm believer that testing the skills of potential employees is the way to go about minimizing the risk of making a costly hiring mistake.  If you receive a resume of someone who seems like the perfect fit, why not give them the opportunity to prove some of the skills they claim to have before taking the plunge and hiring them?  Would you buy a car before test driving it, even if it looked like a beautiful piece of automotive art?  What if underneath the snazzy paint job was a faulty unreliable engine?  Wouldn't you rather learn that before forking out serious cash to make the purchase?  I know I would!  Naturally, we would all like to assume that the information presented on resumes and in interviews is accurate and sincere, but sometimes a healthy dose of skepticism can prevent us from making unneeded mistakes.  In my opinion, testing the skills of job applicants acts almost as an insurance policy against these kinds of mistakes.  

Lastly, by using recruiting tools to test candidates before hiring them, it gives hiring managers the opportunity to find the diamonds in the rough that otherwise might go unnoticed if resumes and interviews are the only benchmarks used.  The fact that someone studied a particular subject or worked in a particular position shouldn't pigeonhole them or paint a false picture of what they are and aren't capable of.  As naive as it sounds, maybe hiring managers need to rely a little more on the old adage that cautions "don't judge a book by its cover."  Using tools to test skills and give candidates the chance to prove themselves is a method that not only increases the quality of new employees, but also prevents the hidden gems from slipping through the cracks. 

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