Job Fit Tests Getting Inaccurate Press

A few articles have popped up that are trying to present Pre-Employment Tests as discriminatory and unfair, but completely miss the actual story at hand.

Essentially, the ‘story’ is that Ms. Vicky Sandy tried to apply for a cashier job at Kroger Co., was given a pre-employment test, and was ultimately turned down for the job because she received a score of 40% for her ability to communicate well with customers. Ms. Sandy is hearing and speech impaired.

Sounds like a story about discrimination and unfair treatment, right? I don’t think it is. Before you get too upset, let’s agree on a few things, first:

  • Discrimination of any kind is wrong
  • Not all job fit tests are created equal
  • All companies need to be fair in their hiring practices

Now, the article, which first appeared in the Wall Street Journal and then was also referenced in an Inc. Magazine article, say that companies who use job fit tests just push people through a system blindly and look at a score with no consideration to the person and that’s bad.

Except that’s exactly what the tests are supposed to do: test without any preferential treatment, positive or negative. That’s part of what makes a test valid and reliable – it can’t show bias in any way. Part of the benefit of using a job fit test is that they provide an objective view of the applicant and provide insights that resumes and interviewing don’t give. That insight is then used in conjunction with interviewing and getting to know the candidate, to make an informed decision.

I’m not defending the specific test Kroger uses, or Kroger itself, but here’s where the story falls flat:

It fails to mention whether Ms. Sandy chose to inform Kroger that she had an impairment and subsequently ask for accommodation.

This isn’t a story about discrimination; it’s a story about understanding labor laws. The test has nothing to do with it. A company isn’t allowed to ask if a person has a disability, the mandate is on the applicant to state their disability and ask for accommodation—it’s their right. So if Ms. Sandy chose not to ask for accommodation, then Kroger would proceed with testing her accordingly. If she did exercise her rights, then the mandate falls on Kroger to make accommodation.

I reached out to the authors of both articles, but haven’t received any sort of reply. I think there’s a huge missed opportunity to inform job seekers about their rights and instead these publications chose the easy route – the one that makes you go “that’s unfair!” before presenting all the information.

So to help both job seeker and employer, here are a few links to resources on labor law and discrimination:

Canada -

U.S. - and

What do you think? Was Kroger discriminating and using their tests improperly, or did Ms. Sandy not exercise her rights?


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