Your SAT Score Might Keep You From Getting That New Job

Oh, you thought you left your SAT scores back in high school? No. Human Resources departments are using those four diabolical numbers to not only decipher whether you were paying attention during that Princeton Review prep class, but also to gauge if you deserve a new job in 2014. I feel like my least-favorite eleventh grade teacher is somewhere cackling.

Consulting firms such as Bain & Co. and McKinsey & Co. and banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. ask new college recruits for their scores, while other companies request them even for senior sales and management hires, eliciting scores from job candidates in their 40s and 50s.

A 50-year-old is going to be asked about their SAT score? Stop. It.

Outside of being a generally ridiculous idea — let’s not even get into how the SAT test is culturally biased because, like so many other things in America, race is at play. — this entire trend is offensive. The very practice implies that what a person learned after junior year of high school is partially irrelevant because if you didn’t have amazing testing skills at 16, then you’re probably an idiot.

One company, Boston Consulting Group Inc., even says they don’t have a minimum score for applicants. We don’t believe you, you need more people.

The Wall Street Journal gets to the meat of all this SAT (and ACT, because some companies are digging that up too!) ghost of education past nonsense; hiring is a numbers game, literally, and human resources staff need another way to sort their hiring pools.

SATs and other academic artifacts remain relevant in part because they are easy—if imperfect—metrics for hiring managers to understand. This despite the fact that increased use of personality tests, data analytics and behavioral interviews have given employers more information about a candidate than ever before. Academic research has proved that cognitive ability can predict job performance, but there is scant evidence linking high SAT scores with employee success.

Thankfully someone at an actual college, you know those places that SAT scores are actually made for, weighed in.

"It is a little confounding how a test somebody took when they were 17 predicts success in a competitive workplace when they're 22," said Kevin Monahan, a career-services dean at Carnegie Mellon University.

How about 45 with kids and a mortgage?

Google was known for using candidate’s grades, alma mater and test scores as hiring barometers until two years ago. The tech giant conducted an internal study that showed "very little correlation between SAT scores and job performance," so now hiring teams using thought-provoking interview questions instead to glean how a future employee might problem solve. Maybe their practice will start a new trend?

Not everyone is glad when companies shift ever so slightly away from SATs.

One former McKinsey analyst who conducted recruiting for the firm was content to share his own scores. "For me, it was great," he said. "I test much better than I am intelligent."

Image via Getty.