‘Up or out’: Can Academic Achievement Predict New Hires Job Performance?

University placements are a milestone in a student’s life. However, every university has different standards and cultures, making it highly impractical for a firm’s hiring team to evaluate student’s academic performance with only basic information. For many organisations, this presents a challenge when trying to select the right graduates. However, being combined with diagnostic tests grades DO become a valid predictor for future job performance, as seen in a recent case study from candidate select (CASE) together with Simon Kucher & Partners.
The Scoring: an overview

The scoring (CASE Score), developed with support from the University of Bonn and the German government, combines a unique data set – including more than 300,000 students as well as more than 500,000 programme-level grade distributions – with state-of-the-art data science. It uses techniques from statistics, econometrics and machine-learning to produce a better assessment of academic performance. The CASE algorithm allows employers and universities to better interpret grades and automatically assess academic performance.

Study: CASE Score as predictor for job performance

The study tested the predictive power of different diagnostic instruments in the hiring process for full-time consultants and interns. The data contained more than 200 applicants as well as the employment history of more than 60 employees. Performance in higher education was assessed via the CASE Score. Moreover, Simon Kucher uses an online test to measure the cognitive abilities of its applicants.

Scatterplot of CASE Score and Online Test indicating successful candidates

High correlation with final job offers and CASE Score

CASE Score and the online assessment test both correlate with the final job. In addition, the study shows that the CASE Score is a good predictor of interview performance. At Simon Kucher & Partners, interviews are usually conducted by partners who have limited time. The challenge for recruiters is therefore to sufficiently preselect the most promising candidates to keep the level of unsuccessful interviews as low as possible. Usually, most interviews are still not successful. As seen in the study, applicants with a weak CASE Score almost never succeed in the interview stage. However, candidates with a very strong CASE Score reach a 60% probability to receive a job offer.

Successful prediction of ‘promotion on time’

Aligned with most other management consultancy firms, Simon Kucher & Partners follows the ‘up or out’ principle which means that there are static and mandatory promotion schemes in the consulting track. An important HR-metric is therefore if consultants are being promoted on time. CASE conducted a study looking at the promotion data of 96 employees showing a significant correlation between its CASE Score and the desired time of promotion.

Removing bias and increasing the effectiveness of the recruitment process

As seen in the presented study above, collecting and analysing data becomes increasingly relevant in HR as it unleashes a great potential to optimize a companies’ hiring process. In addition, with the help of data science, it is even possible to increase fairness and reduce discrimination. For that, it becomes more and more important for companies to collaborate with developers in HR tech and to share data to improve software based on machine learning and data science techniques.


If you are a UK-based company and would like to engage in a scientific study like the one presented above, please reach out to Dr. Philipp Karl Seegers, founder of CASE, or via this form. The study will help to evaluate the fairness and predictive validity of your hiring process and will be performed at no costs as long as the data may also be used to analyse the predictive validity of the CASE Score for UK educational degrees.


CASE reduces the risk companies face in hiring young professionals, helping employers to properly select a candidate according to a reliable long-term performance indicator, rather than raw grades or university reputation. This not only makes finding top talent easier, but also ensures applicants from more competitive or smaller institutions are not overlooked.

CASE is passionate about making recruitment fairer – for everyone.


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