Friday, October 15, 2010

This Candidate is Really Smart! Really?

Often times in recruiting you hear recruiters and hiring managers discuss the intelligence of a candidate. Typically, recruiters lose this discussion regardless of whether they are right or wrong. Sometimes they may lose because the lack of hard evidence or data and other times the hiring authority may something like “I don’t care how smart he/she is I want someone who is a fit,” and once that’s said it’s typically game over. Yet when it comes to who is going to be Commander in Chief of the United States of America there seems to be a ton of emphasis on how smart the candidates are or aren’t.

This debate has never been greater; largely due to one woman and one comment that turned Sarah Palin from overnight sensation to instant (in) famous for being stupid based on her statement that she “could see Russia from her house.” Everyone knows Sarah Palin is stupid, just ask Chelsea Handler, or watch this clip from recent TV appearance

I had been wondering about the comment so I did what most people would do if they have a question these days, I googled it and the funny thing is that you actually could see Russia from Alaska. Not exactly Moscow, but you could see parts of Russia. Here’s one article that explains what parts you could see from where in Russia . So now we have someone who is not a fit to be Vice President because she said something inaccurate that in fact appears to be accurate. On top of that, she is famous for this “stupid” remark. Wow, I can’t wait to see if she runs again and how she does on her next interview. After all, aren’t we all qualified to tell how smart one candidate is versus another?

That last question was rhetorical, actually, unless you are a trained industrial psychiatrist or reading scores from a standardized test who are we to theorize and state unequivocally how smart or stupid someone is? Maybe the hiring manager or executive who is more interested in someone who has a fit for the job than someone who is smart is right or maybe if he is interested in IQ he wants proof. I know one of the things that we offer and that some of our clients do on their own is have executive level candidates tested to see just how smart they really are or aren’t. Even the NFL uses the Wonderlic test to get an estimate of a person’s IQ, especially when evaluating Quarterbacks. Thus, it would be easier to compare the IQ of Steve Young to Vince Young for example than it would be to compare Bill Clinton to Barrack Obama – both seem smart. While we could assume that someone who went to an Ivy League school is smart is that the most prudent thing to do?

In recruiting for technology positions for example if a candidate needs to know Java we could have them tested and show the scores along with the resume to the hiring manager. If it is an executive position we could have an Industrial Psychiatrist perform a battery of tests to show not only how smart they are, but how they think and even give some insight to their soft skills. Though, when it comes to running for office, apparently where you went to school and the court of public opinion matters most.

How silly is that? I just googled wonderlic, it’s a 50 question test and Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard graduate and now starting QB of the Buffalo Bills scored a 48 in only 9 minutes.(Last link, I promise ). Maybe he should run for President? Then again, does being smart make him a fit? I don’t know, but I also don’t know unequivocally how smart or dumb Sarah Palin is and neither does Chelsea Handler. If IQ testing is good enough for the NFL and good enough for corporations looking to hire executives, shouldn’t it be good enough for Americans as part of our decision making process on who to hire to run our country?

Don’t get me wrong, I actually am a huge fan of Chelsea Handler; her show “Chelsea Lately” makes me LOL every time I watch it, I just think that she and many others were unfair on their rush to judgment of Ms. Palin based on one comment she made that actually seems to be valid. I also think that if a client cares how smart someone is or how good they are at a particular skill maybe they should test them or ask their recruiter to have them tested. And, since apparently IQ is one of the most important determining factors on who to vote for, each candidate should take the same test and if they want to run for office their scores should be made public. Certainly if an NFL QB could finish the test in 9 minutes, someone who wants to rule the country should be able to find the time to take the test, even if it takes them two or three times as long.

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