Are you done interviewing applicants with poor grammar skills?
When interviewing or reviewing the qualifications of applicants for a position, there are three categories by which they are usually judged. The first is regarding personal qualities that equate to job skills such as leadership ability, motivation or self-management. All of these qualities will greatly impact candidates’ ability to land a job, considering the Carnegie Institute of Technology found that around 85 percent of the decision to hire is based on these personal traits.
Another obvious category by which applicants are judged is in critical thinking skills such as problem solving or organizational skills. These are necessary for any position and incredibly important to most hiring managers. The last category is regarding basic skills. These are the foundational career building blocks, as they include reading, oral communication and writing. A firm grasp on grammar is usually considered within this skill set. However, the question that has been brought up by many media outlets is, “Would you hire someone with poor grammar?”
On one hand, John McWhorter, a contributing editor for The New York Times, disagrees that grammar is not as vitally important to every job position as some may think and that there is room for debate on the subject. McWhorter reports that for positions that do not require copious amounts of writing, instead of throwing out applicants’ resumes based on a few grammar mistakes, these people should still be considered for the position.
“Notice how much meaner it sounds if someone says that they won’t hire someone who can’t do algebra, despite math not being required in the job beyond elementary calculations,” McWhorter writes. “Even with an additional argument along the lines that algebra trains the brain in precision, it sounds arbitrary – as if deep down the person just has a thing about math.”
However, despite this polarizing opinion, most hiring managers and companies believe that good grammar is still relevant and an essential contributor to successful business practices. In an article at the Harvard Business Review, Kyle Wiens, contributor and the co-founder and CEO of iFixit, writes that many companies, like his own, issue mandatory pre interview grammar and spelling tests to gauge applicants’ abilities before they even walk through the door.
Even for companies that do not have specific writing positions, Wiens writes that it makes good business sense to only hire those people with quality grammatical skills as poor grammar could indicate a lack of attention to detail or even laziness. Furthermore, candidates that are not taking the time check their resumes for mistakes or do not think that writing is important to them in their field, would be doing a disservice to the company that hires them, Wiens says.
“Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant,” Wiens writes. “Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there and they’re.”
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