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When I sift through résumés in search of new employees, I am not looking for smarts.


But let’s back up. What does it mean to be smart?


Most people say that that people with verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical intelligences are “smart.” If they get good grades, score well on aptitude tests, graduate college summa cum laude, they are smart.


But, when we confine the word “smart” to only those with verbal, linguistic, logical, and mathematical aptitudes, we miss seeing, appreciating, and capitalizing upon the many varied intelligences we and others might have.


For instance, a person with interpersonal intelligence might be lousy at math, but they have the ability to understand other people’s strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and abilities. This person is highly empathetic and could make a great employee in a customer-facing role, but if we are looking for “smarts,” we might skip right over this candidate.


I encourage you to replace the word “smart” with the word “capable” when it comes to your hiring practices. When you define the role you are looking for, and what duties the candidates must be capable of handling, you stop caring whether the candidates fit into a narrow box of “smart” and start pinpointing candidates who are actually capable of the specific job you want them to do.


When we try to hire for “smarts,” we risk assigning the wrong tasks, we risk hiring the wrong people, and we risk assuming that a person who is articulate and logical can do a job that he or she might very well not be completely capable of doing.

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