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Most Likely to Succeed
Posted by: Jonathan 11:00pm, Tuesday, 9 December 2008
How do we hire when we can’t tell who’s right for the job?
Harrington was a golden boy out of the University of Oregon, and the third player taken in the draft. Shonka still can’t get over what happened to him.

“I tell you, I saw Joey live,” he said. “This guy threw lasers, he could throw under tight spots, he had the arm strength, he had the size, he had the intelligence.” Shonka got as misty as a two-hundred-and-eighty-pound ex-linebacker in a black tracksuit can get. “He’s a concert pianist, you know? I really—I mean, I really—liked Joey.” And yet Harrington’s career consisted of a failed stint with the Detroit Lions and a slide into obscurity. Shonka looked back at the screen, where the young man he felt might be the best quarterback in the country was marching his team up and down the field. “How will that ability translate to the National Football League?” He shook his head slowly. “Shoot.”

This is the quarterback problem. There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they’ll do once they’re hired. So how do we know whom to choose in cases like that? In recent years, a number of fields have begun to wrestle with this problem, but none with such profound social consequences as the profession of teaching.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/12/15/081215fa_fact_gladwell

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