You can’t afford to hire based on a degree.

If you are in the business of hiring people to work for you, and the first filter you have is for a college degree, you might be costing yourself money, time, and the best applicants.

The tried and seemingly-true line (sold thoroughly to us–by educators) is that the single most important thing you have to have to get hired is a college degree. You have to go to college to get a good job. To think otherwise is to go against the grain of popular thought for the past 50 years or so.

And I certainly don’t mean to say that college is unimportant. I won’t go see a dentist who hasn’t been to college. There are many fields where a college degree is absolutely vital to getting hired.

But please don’t buy the lie that the degree is what makes someone (even a dentist) hirable. Somebody who treated dental school like I treated my undergraduate degree should never touch the inside of a mouth. I graduated using the “path of least resistance” method. Find the classes that are the easiest, and get out with as little work as possible. That person’s dental school degree doesn’t qualify them for hiring.

If you are in the business of hiring people, the first filter ought to be teachability. Can the person be taught? Sure, depending on the field you are hiring for, there are some things other than teachability that might rule out a person. But a lack of teachability will always rule a person out.

The second filter needs to be integrity. Take the person out to a middle-to-low-end restaurant for the interview, and see how they treat the server. Take them to Starbucks (ahem) and see how they treat the barista. Interviews are easy to fake. Integrity is not.

No matter the size of your business, hiring people without teachability and integrity will kill it. Even if they have a degree from Harvard.