5 reasons to fit a square peg in a round hole

Niamh Collins 18.09.2017

A well-run graduate programme can mould brilliant recruits but are we so obsessed with qualifications that we miss out on real talent?

I've been thinking about the traditional CV and interview process and its effectiveness:

  • Are we too quick to recruit through traditional methods?
  • Do we naturally veer towards candidates with the gift of the gab?

Could personality testing, like Myers Briggs, help to identify candidates who have what it takes in your industry? Would an applicant you would normally dismiss surprise you in a role play? An activist will be quick off the mark when handling difficult interview questions but would a reflector grasp the concept far better once they have a chance to absorb the working environment?

There’s no doubt that qualifications are a plus, and we know a well-run graduate programme can mould brilliant recruits. I’m sure we agree there’s no substitute for experience, but humour me for a minute and just think:

Are we so obsessed with qualifications that we miss out on real talent?

  • Luca Pacioli, author of 'Details of Accounting and Recording',1497, became the world’s first ever accountant. Luca was a Franciscan monk with no accounting qualifications.
  • A school leaver at the age of 16, to start his Virgin empire from a telephone box outside of his parents' house, Sir Richard Branson was dyslexic and had a very poor school record.
  • The average net worth of billionaires without a college education is triple that of billionaires with PhDs. Fact! Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are amongst many self-made, brilliant entrepreneurs who dropped out of college before earning a degree. Some of their best work, and arguably their most original ideas, were formed while skipping school.
  • Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won an academy award for best original screenplay for Good Will Hunting. Matt was a Harvard dropout and Ben had no third level qualification at all.
  • The former chairman of Tottenham Hotspur, and familiar face on the UK Apprentice, Alan Sugar educated himself while selling fish out of the back of a mobile van.


Next time you interview an awkward, inarticulate candidate, just pause for a minute and think about the potential of the person you're speaking to.

Niamh Collins's picture
Associate Director | Accounting & Finance