Why Goldman Sachs, Bain, And McKinsey Ask Job Candidates For Their SAT Scores
In the timeless quest to predict future success in employees, a number of employers are turning to candidates' SAT results. Big-name consulting firms such as McKinsey and Bain, as well as banks like Goldman Sachs, are among the companies that ask newly minted college grads for their scores in job applications, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Some other companies request scores even from candidates in their 40s and 50s.
For all these job seekers, the SATs are a distant memory. Even the newest Bachelor's recipients tend to be at least four years removed from the test. So why is it that even after people go to college, mature, and gain work experience, employers still care about a standardized test taken in high school?
Jonathan Wai, an intelligence expert and researcher in Duke University's Talent Identification Program (TIP), says the SATs are considered to be a measure of "general intelligence and general ability." That's important because research has shown that general ability "actually predicts occupational success across a range of occupations," he explains.
The SATs also appeal to many hiring managers because they're standardized. In theory, these test scores serve as an equalizer and mediate some of the well-documented biases that normally influence the hiring process. For example, it's been found that managers generally prefer hiring people that are similar to them - be it in education, background, interests, or personality. This is called a "similarity bias."
The beauty of the SATs is that everyone takes them at the same time, with roughly the same level (if not quality) of education. In the broadest sense, someone's score on the SAT offers a glimpse of how they compare to other candidates in terms of general knowledge and ability. "It's standardized, and it's objective in that sense," Wai says.
Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder and CEO of Amazon, is one of the most famous proponents of using SAT scores in hiring decisions. Bezos scored highly on a standardized IQ test when he was only 8 years old, and in his early days as a manager, he liked to ask candidates for their SAT results in interviews he conducted. He has said that "hiring only the best and brightest was key to Amazon's success."
Despite the benefits of using SATs in hiring, Wai admits the test is "not a perfect measure by any means" and questions how widespread its use as a hiring tool really is. He's also not sure how long the scores should be considered valid for. After all, he points out, scores on the GRE, the graduate school entrance exam, are good for only five years. That raises an obvious question for companies like Cvent Inc., which asks for SAT or equivalent ACT scores from job applicants of all ages, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Wai hopes the emphasis employers like Cvent Inc. put on standardized tests won't encourage recent college graduates and experienced workers to start retaking the SATs. For one, people's scores probably wouldn't change much, he says. Additionally, the SAT would no longer offer the benefit of standardization if people were reporting scores from all different points in their lives instead of the score they got in high school.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
- A 'hole' 30 times Earth's size has spread across the sun, blasting solar winds that'll hit our planet by end of this week
- A former Twitter engineer said they watched colleagues 'drop like flies' from a virtual meeting during Elon Musk's mass layoffs
- I'm a software engineer who struggled with procrastination until I tried 'monk mode' — here's how it saves me up to 3 hours a day
- MSMEs on a growth path with rise in credit demand, fall in delinquency rates: CIBIL-SIDBI report
- Hindenburg report wipes out $526 million of Jack Dorsey's wealth
- First 82 days of 2023 see more layoffs than the entire 2022
- You will soon lose your legacy blue tick on Twitter – here’s everything you need to know
- Parineeta director Pradeep Sarkar passes away at 67