4 Simple Reasons Why Hiring Talent From Top Schools Only is a Big Talent Acquisition Mistake

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A group of talented candidates from top schools that are looking to be hired by talent acquisition specialists.

All talent acquisition teams dream about hiring top talent. They’re always looking for the best of the best. This means looking for A-grade candidates, who graduated from top schools, with Distinction, and a prestigious degree.

But do these top students make the best employees?

Not according to Google.

Google believes that hiring talent shouldn’t be solely based on the schools they went to. In fact, hiring candidates who didn’t go to top schools have the tendency to work harder.

Talent acquisition specialists who focus their recruiting efforts on hiring candidates who come from top schools only can be a huge mistake.


We break it down for you in this article!

A top degree doesn’t predict job performance

There’s no prediction technique out there that can help us foresee if candidates will excel at their jobs because of their degrees. In fact, recent studies have found that there’s no correlation between education-based measures and job performance. This means that a university’s criteria are quite different from the employer’s criteria. A university might accept a less promising candidate who would otherwise make a brilliant student. And vice versa.

Therefore, talent acquisition teams should ask themselves these questions before hiring candidates: Does this candidate absorb new information quickly? Can this candidate apply new information on the fly? Does this candidate have resilience and perseverance?

Talent acquisition professionals might soon come to realize that despite the fact many candidates graduated from top schools, they don’t have what it takes to excel at their jobs. 

You end up paying more for talent

If there’s one thing we know for certain, it’s that hiring top talent from top universities can be really expensive. Sometimes, companies might think that hiring a Harvard alumna will do wonders for them. But many fail to recognize that they’re also competing for a scarce resource.

Think of it like booking a flight on a full plane. You end up paying more only to end up sitting at the back of the plane. The same thing goes for paying more for candidates that come from top schools. You might soon come to realize that you’re paying more for an average employee who is underperforming.

Therefore, companies risk spreading their resources too thin, especially since overpaying for the wrong talent tends to compound over time. Which in tow, leads to low morale and high turnover.

You miss out on some great talent

When focusing on hiring talent from top schools, talent acquisition teams tend to miss out on other great talents out there. Candidates who graduated from average schools could be the right talent for your company, but they are ignored as prospective candidates due to their educational background. This leaves the majority of candidates out of the game. 

Today, talent acquisition teams are finding it equally hard to hire skilled talent. This is because technology is advancing faster than the speed of light, and new skills are always being tied to a college education. Skillsets are evolving and companies are looking for candidates who demonstrate stellar critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Unfortunately, this way, talent acquisition teams may miss out on hiring some great talent, because they’re focused more on hiring candidates with a certain level of education and not skillsets.

Perpetuating hiring bias

When talent acquisition teams prefer candidates from top schools, they tend to perpetuate unconscious bias by overlooking other potential candidates from different educational backgrounds. This is done by simply shrinking their own talent pipeline to implicitly favor candidates from top schools.

Many HR professionals tend to focus on academic credentials rather than technical qualifications, therefore making the majority of their decisions more biased throughout the hiring process. This, as a result, will negatively impact the credibility of the company and entice many candidates to drop out of the application process, including the ones who are qualified for the job.

Therefore, this puts talent acquisition professionals at the risk of losing top talent, just because they prefer to hire all candidates from similar educational backgrounds. Consequently, companies should promote a more egalitarian hiring process, and opt for assessing candidates on the same playing field.

Putting it all together

There’s an influx of awesome talent out there. And they’re all coming from different places. Talent acquisition teams today should open themselves to an array of potential candidates and not limit themselves to hiring candidates only from top schools. By heightening diversity levels, creating diverse teams, and focusing more on raw talent and great skills, companies can find exceptional candidates that are driven by motivation, vision, and ambition.

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