Special offer 

Jumpstart your hiring with a $75 credit to sponsor your first job.*

Sponsored Jobs are 2.6x times faster to first hire than non-sponsored jobs.**
  • Attract the talent you’re looking for
  • Get more visibility in search results
  • Appear to more candidates longer

When Does College GPA Matter When Hiring?

Does college GPA matter, or is it a poor indicator of a potential employee’s skills? It depends who you ask.

More than half of employers reject applicants who don’t have a 3.0 GPA or higher on their college transcripts. This common practice makes sense for some businesses, but it may not be the best choice for your company. Before you establish GPA guidelines for applicants, read the pros and cons below.

Post a Job

When to consider college GPA — and when not to

Sometimes you need reassurance that an applicant has the skills needed for their position. A high college GPA may put your mind at ease when you hire candidates for skilled positions in the medical field or tech industry. For example, you may not want a nurse who barely passed clinicals or a coding specialist who got Cs and Ds in college. These jobs require specific strengths that are often learned in school rather than exclusively via on-the-job training.

However, GPA isn’t as important if you’re hiring someone for an entry-level position or general management. Does college GPA matter at all if you’re hiring employees for this type of work? Unless you’re short-staffed, it’s likely your business can easily help new workers master any necessary skills. Online courses, on-the-job training and training videos are a few options you can try.

You may also want to ignore a candidate’s GPA if your job requires a degree — any degree —for employment. An applicant with a 1.5 GPA in agricultural science might become a dedicated call center employee or excel at leading a team at your plant. If you’re willing to accept any degree, you should expect to have some applicants with unrelated educational backgrounds.

Does college GPA matter? What GPA can’t reveal vs. what it can

Is GPA important, or should you just let less-than-stellar grades slide? Ultimately, the answer to “Does college GPA matter?” depends on the type of candidate your company wants. Keep reading for some examples of what GPA can and can’t reveal so you can make an informed decision.

What does GPA reveal?

Completing college requires discipline and perseverance, even at schools that are known for being lenient. You have to show up regularly and do your work, plus consistently obtain passing scores on exams. When you’re in class, you have to stay awake and alert or risk missing important information from the professor.

A high GPA also shows that someone can successfully see a goal through from start to finish. Obtaining a college degree requires motivation and a strong work ethic, especially if you have good grades. Bosses may feel confident hiring graduates with high GPAs because they are viewed as dependable go-getters who won’t call in sick all the time.

What isn’t revealed by GPA?

A high GPA doesn’t reveal everything about an applicant, so you may want to remove grade requirements from your company’s hiring process. For example, good grades don’t tell you anything about someone’s culture. A high GPA also doesn’t give you insight on whether an applicant’s personality is a good fit for your team.

Furthermore, you can’t guarantee someone learned essential job skills in college even if they have a high GPA. Sure, your candidate may have a business degree, but does that mean they can create a brilliant marketing plan? Getting good grades often requires memorization for presentations and exams. Your potential employee may know tons of industry-related facts but have no idea how to apply their knowledge in a work setting.

Why college GPA may not be the best predictor of success

An A isn’t always an A in the academic world, even if that’s the final grade a student receives. Some professors take pity on struggling students and give them higher grades than what they’ve actually earned. This can happen when a student has a serious illness or family crisis that makes completing coursework difficult. There are also course instructors who dole out high grades to prevent arguments from students or parents.

Grade inflation occurs when students receive better grades than they should have. In an attempt to combat this issue, some schools have instructed teachers to exercise caution before assigning As. In the early 2000s, Princeton professors were told to limit As to 35% of the class when possible.

A student’s cultural or ethnic background can also impact college GPA. Many students who juggle full-time work with their studies are minorities, which means they may have less time to study than peers. In fact, research reveals that the average GPA for a white student is 3.2, while overall GPA scores average 2.8 for Black students and 3.0 for Hispanic students.

What to look at during the hiring process instead of GPA

Some applicants may still list their GPA on resumes and cover letters, even if your company doesn’t require it. However, there are other things you should pay attention to during the interview process for entry-level candidates.

For starters, take a good look at each candidate’s resume. Did they create a resume tailored toward your company, or did they submit a generic resume that could work for any position? Someone who truly wants a job at your company will often put some extra effort into personalizing their resume and cover letter.

While reviewing the resume, check for relevant skills and prior job experience. You may find that a degree-free applicant has 10 years of industry experience or that they know several essential computer programs that your employees use. Watch for red flags, such as an applicant who frequently job hops.

If a candidate makes it to the interview process, ask what they can offer your company. Some applicants will use this opportunity to say, “I know you usually look for someone with a degree” before explaining why they’re still a good fit.

You may find that you still prefer to have GPA requirements for workers. If you decide to check a candidate’s education background before hiring them, consider utilizing some prescreening techniques. Some applicants lie about their GPA or degree, so prescreening helps you verify what they say.

However, you may find it’s best to ignore an applicant’s GPA, especially if you’re hurting for employees. Consider giving someone with a lower GPA a chance, especially if they ace your company’s hiring process. You might be pleasantly surprised by the strengths this new worker brings to your company.

Post a Job

Ready to get started?

Post a Job

*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your recruiting or legal advisor, we are not responsible for the content of your job descriptions, and none of the information provided herein guarantees performance.

Editorial Guidelines