Frank Partnoy, law professor at the University of San Diego, writes in The Atlantic magazine of June that corporations are once again relying on tests to assess possible hirees and even their own top managements.
In the middle of the last century, “employees up and down corporate organizational charts were routinely given IQ tests,” writes Partnoy. But “courts found that employers were using discriminatory tests to keep racial minorities out of the workplace,” and usage declined.
Now surprisingly inclusive tests are showing up. One particular test attempts to assess technical and social skills and at the same time gauge analytical and leadership potential. That’s a big order. “Many new workplace tests are designed to measure raw cognitive ability,” writes Partnoy.
A professor at Yale School of Management believes a small number of tests can predict future performance. Certain questions “are reliable measures of cognitive reflection, or the ability to overome an incorrect gut response,” the professor believes, according to Partnoy. Here’s an example: “If a bat and a ball cost $1.10 total and the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?” Partnoy keeps the reader waiting until the end of the article for the right answer: “The bat costs $1.05. The ball costs a nickel.” Relying on an incorrect gut response, I flunked.