Managers: You’re Smart People – Why Are You Still Using SATs in Recruitment?

SATBlogThe Wall Street Journal recently ran an article exposing some of the world’s leading employers still using SAT scores for pre-hire screening.

For hiring managers and job seekers around the globe, it’s difficult to read. Companies request them even for senior sales and management hires, eliciting scores from job candidates in their 40s and 50s.” Despite all research pointing towards no correlation between SAT score and job performance, candidates decades out of school are being asked to reveal how their seventeen-year-old selves performed in reading comprehension one Saturday morning.

Why? The answer lies in an age-old issue still hindering businesses today: many managers don’t know what is a job performance indicator at their company. In an effort to introduce some sort of standardization to the process, the SAT is the easy option.

With that, The Pros and Cons of Using SAT Scores in Recruiting:


  • not time consuming

Cons (Top 10):

  • the exam does not account for soft and hard skills developed after the exam
  • the exam itself is often accused of both racial and gender biases
  • no social intelligence component in the assessment
  • the SAT discounts the credibility of proven workplace performance assessments such as psychometric assessments
  • exam becomes less predictive over time
  • does not account for compatibility with existing employees
  • it is expensive to validate candidate’s scores are even real ($30.50/candidate)
  • candidates are turned off by workplaces still using SAT scores in hiring
  • the SAT is not designed to predict workplace performance
  • even the creators and proponents of the SAT have stated it is not designed to predict workplace performance

As a data enthusiast and proponent of data-backed decision making, I cringed reading the quote, “Knowing it’s a standardized test is really enough for us.” Half sympathetic and half infuriated. Sympathetic because some hiring managers truly do not know why they suffer from so many recruiting problems. Infuriated because top talent is being written off when data-backed recruiting tools are out there and more affordable than ever.

Hopefully articles like this will continue to draw attention to the outdated recruiting processes out there. If you’re a manager and this is ringing all too true to your firm – know that you’re not alone. Also know that you can begin making the change today. In HR? How HR Can Implement Big Data – in Six Baby Steps is a good place to start. A job candidate? Run fast and far from a firm requesting SAT scores. I think The Billfold’s Meaghan O’Connell put it well – when adult people are asking other adult people their SAT score – you’ve got a red flag.



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Kayla Kozan

Kayla Kozan

Director of Marketing at Ideal
Kayla spent the last few years studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship on 3 different continents. Now covering the latest in predictive analytics, workplace diversity and big data. She has a keen interest in tech and discovering underrated brunch spots.
Kayla Kozan