How Perfect is your Perfect Hire?

There’s a concept known as the “Perfect Premium”. Basically, we over evaluate the value of “perfect” versus almost perfect. What do I mean?

Let me give an example that we are all familiar with, standardized college admission testing, ACT/SAT. A perfect ACT score is 36. If someone scores a 36 on the ACT, they’ll get a full ride, academic scholarship to some college.

If someone gets a 35 on their ACT test, one point lower than perfect, they might get a full-ride scholarship to a college, but that is no guarantee. We assume 35 is that much lower than a 36. Now, what about comparing an ACT score of 35 to a score of 34? Well, in that case, we assume those two scores a virtually the same! Smart, but not perfect!

We do this with employment assessments as well.

We assume the person who scores the highest on the test is the best one, and the people who scored less are really that close. Let’s say you have an assessment that scores 0 to 100. You have three candidates that score 100, 94, and 91. We will almost always assume that the 100 is by far the better hire than the 94 or 91.

If you tell your hiring manager they can’t have the 100 score because that person dropped out for some reason, they won’t really care if you choose the 94 or 91. To them, those are the same, but that 100! She was the magical unicorn!

We exaggerate the distance between the perfect and the near-perfect by an exponential amount from those who near-perfect to almost near-perfect. 

Why does this matter?

Because the reality is, those who are perfect, and those who are near-perfect, are virtually the same when it comes to potential performance. Whether you hire the perfect scoring candidate or the one who is near perfect, you are basically getting the same person, but your mind will lie to tell you and tell you that you’re not!

Your perfect hire might actually be perfect! But, your near-perfect hire might also be perfect!

Also, for those thinking, “Tim probably just got 35 on this ACT and now he’s trying to make us believe he’s as smart as the kids who got 36!” Ha! you’re wrong! I got a 32, and I’m still way smarter than those try-hards who got 36! Or am I…

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