Are you prepared to discuss your SAT scores from high school at your next job interview? Apparently you should be because top companies are asking about them, regardless of how old you are.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, “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.”
So what is the SAT and what is a good score? According to the College Admissions site at About.com, “The exam consists of three parts: Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing. The scores from each section can range from 200 to 800, so the best possible total score is 2400. The average score for each section is roughly 500, so the average total score is about 1500. For the 1.66 million test-takers in 2013, the mean scores were 496 critical reading, 514 math, and 488 writing.”
Why do employers care about SAT scores that could be two or three decades old? And do low scores hurt your chances, even if you graduated summa cum laude from college? The article says, “A low score doesn’t necessarily kill a person’s chances, hiring managers say; instead, they say they believe SATs and other college entrance exams like the ACT help when comparing candidates with differing backgrounds or figuring out whether someone has the raw brainpower required for the job.”
At least one college official calls into question how the SATs, which are designed to predict success in the first year of college, can be used to determine if someone is worth hiring. “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, in the article.
Using the test scores can put minority candidates at a disadvantage, according to the article. It said, “Putting too much stock in standardized tests can put minority candidates at a disadvantage. In 2013, SAT test-takers in the “Black or African-American” category scored an average 431 on the exam’s critical reading section, 429 on math and 418 on writing. White test-takers, meanwhile, scored nearly 100 points higher on average in every section. There is a racial divide for ACT score reports as well.”
Some young job seekers are being counseled to put their SAT scores right on their LinkedIn profiles and to include them on resumes. According to the article, “Patricia Rose, director of career services at University of Pennsylvania, advises students to put forth any information on their profiles that might impress an employer, even test scores. She also recommends recent graduates who want to change industries to list their results as proof that they are up to new intellectual challenges.”
Not everybody is a fan of using SAT scores to hire. According to the article, Google fixated on job candidates’ grade-point averages, test scores and alma mater, 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.”
In one twist on this story, via TheGothamist.com, SAT scores are becoming less relevant to some colleges and universities. It said, “And if it’s not frustrating enough to learn your SAT scores may follow you … more and more research has indicated the tests may not be that useful to college admissions officers anymore. About 800 accredited four-year universities no longer require SAT scores, and a recent study found nearly no difference in the collegiate GPAs of the students who submitted scores and those who did not.”