(p. A18) Don Peck looked at how companies assess potential hires in an essay in The Atlantic called “They’re Watching You at Work.”
Peck demonstrates something that most of us already sense: that job interviews are a lousy way to evaluate potential hires. Interviewers at big banks, law firms and consultancies tend to prefer people with the same leisure interests — golf, squash, whatever. In one study at Xerox, previous work experience had no bearing on future productivity.
Now researchers are using data to try again to make a science out of hiring. They watch how potential hires play computer games to see who is good at task-switching, who possesses the magical combination: a strict work ethic but a loose capacity for “mind wandering.” Peck concludes that this greater reliance on cognitive patterns and game playing may have an egalitarian effect. It won’t matter if you went to Harvard or Yale. The new analytics sometimes lead to employees who didn’t even go to college. The question is do these analytics reliably predict behavior? Is the study of human behavior essentially like the study of nonhuman natural behavior — or is there a ghost in the machine?
For the full commentary, see:
DAVID BROOKS. “The Sidney Awards.” The New York Times (Fri., December 27, 2013): A18. [National Edition]
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date December 26, 2013, and has the title “The Sidney Awards, Part 1.”)
The article praised by Brooks is:
Peck, Don. “They’re Watching You at Work.” The Atlantic (Dec. 2013).