1 Adult People Are Asking Other Adult People Their SAT Score in Job Interviews | The Billfold

Adult People Are Asking Other Adult People Their SAT Score in Job Interviews

According to the Wall Street Journal(…), getting asked your often decades-old SAT score in a job interview is now a thing we should worry about (WHAT):

Stephen Robert Morse was a candidate for a communications job when the recruiter told him to be ready to discuss his SAT score in a coming interview.

Mr. Morse, 28 years old, said he was “shocked” that a potential boss would be interested in the results of a test he took more than a decade earlier. He passed on the opportunity.

Proving the adage that all of life is like high school, plenty of employers still care about a job candidate’s SAT score. 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.

Firstly, I refuse to believe this isn’t a very isolated trend, or one specific to recent college grads getting hired by banks. But has anyone actually had this happen to them? Sometimes when I think about all the time I spent studying for and taking and obsessed over the SATs without realizing how little they matter, well, it makes me wonder what I am stressing about right now that is similarly meaningless.

But then again I spent the morning reading this piece by Elizabeth Kolbert about taking the SAT as an adult, and my main complaint with it was that she never told us her SAT score! Which almost makes me wish I was interviewing Elizabeth Kolbert at Bain & Co. so that she would have to tell me.

Apparently, per the article, even Google used to consider things like GPA, alma mater, and test scores in their hiring process, which seems pretty outmoded for a company like Google:

but the company changed tactics about two years ago, when data showed that traditionally pedigreed candidates didn’t always make better hires.

Internal studies found “very little correlation between SAT scores and job performance,” said Kyle Ewing, head of global staffing programs at Google. The company now relies on interview questions that probe how a potential hire has solved complex problems in the past.

Oh man I hate that interview question.

Sooo, what did all of you get on the SATs? And describe for me, if you will, a time when you were faced with great adversity at work and what you did to overcome it.

Photo: Yes Otter Photography


42 Comments / Post A Comment

wrappedupinbooks (#1,426)

I have literally never faced great adversity and live in fear of the day someone asks me that question in an interview.

rhinoceranita (#5,858)

I do TERRIBLY on standardized tests. I was actually sick the first time I took the SAT and could not focus until I ran out of the room to throw-up during the second to last section. Then I felt fine.

garysixpack (#4,263)

Some jobs can be pretty stressful. If you can’t handle the stress of taking a standardized test, then there are jobs that are probably wrong for you.

sea ermine (#122)

@garysixpack I mean, unless there are jobs that consist of just filling out standardized tests all day (and I’m sure these jobs exist) it shouldn’t be a problem? Being stressed out by standardized test doesn’t mean you can’t handle any other kind of stressful environment.

moreadventurous (#4,956)

I think my score was around 2100? Of course, I took it after the writing section was added. I mostly just remember getting over 700 on math and under 700 on the other two… and then going on to major in the humanities, lolgr8choicez.

It seems like a really silly interview question though, unless the job is like writing standardized test questions.

Also what is that picture?

garysixpack (#4,263)

Adversity at work?

I once had an office next to a card key access lab. I was working on something fairly difficult one afternoon, and this idiot wanted to get into the next door lab. So he banged on the lab door for a good 10 seconds, and no one came to open it. He hung out outside for a few minutes, then he banged on the door some more. A few more minutes, more banging. I finally got ticked off. So I walked up to the door and kicked it open. Alarms were going off, and I told the guy, “Look, there’s no one inside.” He looked pretty shocked.

Then there was the time I almost flattened Bill Saperstein with a flying computer case.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

I was an A with a few Bs student, but horribly lazy and literally refused to prepare for the SAT in any way other than the school required PSAT. I also refused to take it more than once or take the stupid ACT. I will guess I got a 1,950? That feels correct. I know I was highest in Verbal, then Math, then Writing. I got into all the colleges I wanted and nabbed a few academic scholarships, so clearly my ‘efforts’ were good enough.

highjump (#39)

What about us midwestern ACT takers?! Very real test anxiety and so on aside, you can’t be a fuck-up at 16 anymore and get a job at Goldman Sachs? Talk about cycle of inequality. Not only can you not get a second chance in this country, you basically can’t get a fair shot at your first chance.

jillcool (#2,123)

@highjump ACT taker here too. I don’t think we even had the option to take the SAT unless you were willing to drive an hour away to take it. I honestly don’t remember what I got. There must be a record somewhere?

Vib G Yor (#3,566)

@highjump ACT-taker here as well. No SAT for me, but I will never want to work in management consulting or investment banking anyway, so everybody wins!

peanutbutterpie (#1,450)

This happened to me once years ago. I blabbered on about how I couldn’t quite remember and then basically told the guy I didn’t think I was a good fit for the job. It was a job that was sort of creative but also would involve using logic quite a bit, so that was his reason for asking, he said. Hasn’t ever happened again, thank god!

calamity (#2,577)

I don’t even know what the two scores mentioned above really mean, because back in MY day SATs were graded out of 1600.

That said, I did very well on my SATs and I still think this is ridiculous.

Stina (#686)

@calamity TO MY FELLOW OLD PEOPLE: The SAT now has three tests so the maximum possible score is now 2400. I learned of this when some student was suing the U of Texas system for discriminating against whites. As a counter people were pointing out that her SAT scores were like 1100-1200′ish or such and I thought “well it’s not amazing but that’s not completely awful..” and then someone informed me of the new standard.

I bet a younger interviewer who would hear my somewhere around high 1300′s score (No I can’t remember my score exactly because I have an appropriate sense of context about SAT’S )would dismiss me.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@Stina Yeah, that’s very confusing! Not to mention, they realigned the numbers at some point to make people feel better, or some shit?

I do remember my two scores, but not which is which.

Stina (#686)

@Lily Rowan “Not to mention, they realigned the numbers at some point to make people feel better, or some shit”

Waaaaaaah? *shakes head, rocks harder in rocker, readjusts shawl, mutters* Young people these days I just don’t know….

Lily Rowan (#70)

@Stina (I may be totally wrong on that point….)

calamity (#2,577)

@Lily Rowan I think they did that in like … the 90s though? Maybe earlier? I’m pretty sure it was at least before 1999. Unless they did it AGAIN since, in which case, I give up.

Caitlin with a C (#3,578)

@Stina “No I can’t remember my score exactly because I have an appropriate sense of context about SAT’S”. AMEN. I took the SAT 14 years ago. Geesh.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@calamity Oh, funny — if it was in the 90s, that was exactly right after I took them, and therefore the only time I would really care, which is why I still remember it happening.

garysixpack (#4,263)

Well, it’s illegal to give candidates IQ tests. So it was a matter of time before companies asked for SAT scores, since the two are somewhat correlated. What Google found out is that small differences in IQ are meaningless, and they have access to proxies to SAT scores that work better.

garysixpack (#4,263)

Quoth Wikipedia: “Frey and Detterman (2004) reported a correlation of 0.82 between g (general intelligence factor) and SAT scores…”

In any case, the study quoted in the WP article doesn’t control for differences in colleges, majors, and courses. What does it actually mean when some random school that doesn’t require SAT has the same GPA or graduation rate as some other random school that does? Does it mean the two schools or the two student bodies are the same? Probably not.

bgprincipessa (#699)

I absolutely love standardized tests, so I’d jump for joy if this happened to me. But I know I am alone, and also yes I would still be weirded out by the question. Seriously though, I’ll take all your standardized tests for you.

Bonnie St. Clair (#2,949)

@bgprincipessa Ha, right there with you! I’m so much better at taking standardized tests than I am at being a responsible, career-minded adult, so I would be OK with it being used for me. I realize it would be a ridiculous metric for hiring, though.

DebtOrAlive (#5,233)

@bgprincipessa THIS. At every level of education, standardized tests have opened doors that I wouldn’t have ever thought were possible for me. They’ve always been my Mic Dropper.

Of course, using a test I took as a 15-year old is an absurd measure of ability.

bgprincipessa (#699)

I second both of those statements! SATs or re-write my resume? SATs, please. You want to give me a full scholarship because of my SAT scores? Yes, thank you. You want to pay me to teach other people how to take the SATs? Yes, I’ll take that too.

garli (#4,150)

@bgprincipessa Ha, I agree with you and I used to make extra cash as an SAT tutor. Had a handful of kids get perfect math scores too, so suck it SATs. It’s all about getting used to the annoying way they ask things.

Of course I went to a college that didn’t ask for your standardized tests scores so I understand that they are totally worthless.

Allison (#4,509)

@bgprincipessa I’m so good at filling bubbles! my parents actually used to use my SAT score as short hand for “book smart but not street smart.”

bgprincipessa (#699)

You are all my people.

wrappedupinbooks (#1,426)

@bgprincipessa I was like this until I met the LSAT. It went against every fiber of my being to study for a standardized test, and I’m still sort of bitter about my score (which is you know, not bad, just not a 175 like I expected).

Blondsak (#2,299)

I’ve been asked how I did on the writing portion of the GRE before in an interview (they knew I had gone to grad school). I told them my score, but that ended up being a moot point when the question turned into a discussion about how ridiculous the GRE and its grading system is.

@fo (#839)

Meaghan: “Firstly, I refuse to believe this isn’t a very isolated trend, or one specific to recent college grads getting hired by banks. But has anyone actually had this happen to them?”

I have not had it happen to me, but I know a story about a law firm *partner* who had something north of $10 million in business (that is, *way* more than enough revenue to pay for himself, and make money for the other partners) that would follow him, who was all set with an offer from a new firm–until they asked for his law school transcript and, upon seeing it, rescinded the offer. And, had he gone to a lesser law school than he did, the firm wouldn’t have let him get that far.

Now, that’s a single anecdote, but it’s even more irrelevant than asking some management interviewee about SATs–how do you know that a person will be a good VP of Whatever? You don’t. How do you know a lawyer will make a firm money? He has clients who pay their bills and have demonstrated loyalty to him–and $10m+ is a lot of legal fees (esp 15+ years ago, when this happened).

WhyHelloThere (#1,398)

I did well enough on the SATs to be a national merit finalist, and I think it’s a stupid, stupid question. Also, SAT scores correlate closely with parents’ income, so it tends to favor applicants from privileged backgrounds.

andnowlights (#2,902)

What? I can’t even remember what I made on my SATs because it was in 2003 and I have better things to remember than what I made on a standardized test in high school. I wouldn’t WANT to work for a company that asked this!

Elsajeni (#1,763)

I have been asked about my SAT scores in interviews, but only for jobs where it was actually semi-relevant — first when I applied to work at a test-prep company, and then a few years later when I was applying to be an after-school tutor. (The tutoring company was interested in math and verbal scores separately; I was still in college and majoring in English, so they trusted me to tutor in reading/writing but wanted to make sure I’d be capable of tutoring in math as well. The test-prep company heard my SAT score — which was high — and said, “Have you ever taken the LSAT? We bet you’d do well on it. Here, take this sample test,” because it turned out that what they were really looking for was someone to write answers for their LSAT practice books.)

snackcarts (#3,300)

1260 the first time, 1350 the second time (back in the ye olde days when SAT scores were out of 1600).

Those numbers are burned on my brain forever.

Stina (#686)

@snackcarts Impressive. The only thing I remember for sure is disrupting the computer aided GRE session.
For explanation: The computer give you four options. You select one, the computer then asks “Are you sure? and after you hit “Yes” it’s permanent, no going back and changing it. The millisecond after I hit “Yes” on a logic question I realized that I was totally wrong and let out a loud “D’OH!” in the silent room with ten other people in it.

Gleemonex (#5,101)

First: Yes, I remember, because it was REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT to me at the time (1991-92), because of the schools I was applying to, from my podunk rural HS: 750 verbal, 550 math. Also I remembered because the difference between the two scores was *hilarious* to me.

Second: I had an interview for a communications job at Google three or four years ago; it was going well, good vibe, etc. Then as we were wrapping up, they asked me what my SAT score was. Now — their tendency to do stuff like that is well-known in Silicon Valley, but I thought it was urban legend, so when they actually said it, I laughed in their faces. I thought they were fucking with me. I was all, “SAT score? What am I, joining the Mathletes here?” I just couldn’t believe they were asking a mid-career professional with 20 years of experience plus an Ivy League degree and an M.A. what her frickin SAT score from 1991 was. But they were serious — and *offended* by my reaction. I … did not get the job, even after I went ahead and told them the number. Ha! What a goddamn beatdown that place must be to work at — dodged a bullet there.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

I remember how people thought discussing SAT scores was tacky when I was in *college.*

Gleemonex (#5,101)

@CubeRootOfPi Because it *was* tacky. Then as now.

RosemaryF (#345)

I work for one of the companies mentioned in the WSJ article and it was news to me that they look at SAT scores. I double checked with my friend in recruiting and she said, “Yeah, it’s crazy. But, we only do it for the recruits straight out of college with no work experience.” Soooo, there is that? I was hired in an admin position and they cared more about my actual work experience and just confirmed that I had my masters.

1330, taken in 1992.

sony_b (#225)

If it’s a thing, this can be class-based discrimination. I never took the SAT, yet I have both a BA and an MA. I dropped out of high school (’87ish, should have been class of ’89) screwed around for a while, and then took an equivalency exam and enrolled in a junior college, and then transferred to USC. No SAT requirement for transfer students. I don’t believe that has changed – my husband is currently trying to transfer from a junior college to a Cal State school and there’s been no mention of it. I went to Mills College for grad school (’04-’07), and they never asked about it either. I think I got 1500ish on the PSAT in 1986 and scored 98% on the ASVAB at some point before I left high school. The only other big test I ever took was the CBEST (California’s exam for teachers).

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