- Educational background in an unrelated but impressive field
- Math ability for a job involving no math
- Memorization ability
- Having a large vocabulary
All of these might be useful in some jobs. If you want to be a model, for example, attractiveness is quite important. But for a huge number of jobs these traits are useless. Your math ability does not affect most sales jobs, yet these traits seem to be valued regardless.
To go deeper into an example, I would like to look at intelligence. Most people would agree this plays some role in almost any job although considerably less in some jobs when compared to others. People have focused on intelligence so much that some jobs have IQ tests built into the interview. Is this a good use of time? Is it a good way to predict job performance? Studies have shown that “the relation of IQ to exceptional performance is rather frail in many arenas. For scientists, engineers and medical doctors the correlations between ability measures and occupational success are only around 0.2, accounting for only 4% of the variance.”
A better option might be to look at metrics people tend to undervalue yet are exceptionally important, such as conscientiousness, value alignment with the organization, and social skills. Indeed, research has found that information about people's personalities gleaned from facebook profiles are a better predictor of job performance than IQ tests.
An even better alternative would be to replace vague disconnected metrics with a test that is as similar to the real work they are going to be doing as possible. These simulation tests have been shown to be much better at predicting someone’s true job performance. Although there will still be some bias, these seems like a much stronger way of evaluation.