In a prior blog post (“Noah’s Job Search”, 8/9/13) I introduced the fine work of Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler, founders of CareerXroads, a consulting company specializing in human resources, staffing, and recruiting.  As promised, I have been devoting additional blog posts to their excellent and enlightening report (“This Year’s Mystery Job Seeker: Noah Z. Ark, A Man For The Modern World”

Noah found 8% of companies requested a Social Security number on the initial online job application.  This was a 33% increase from last year.  I do understand busy HR departments like to do anything possible to save time down line in their processes.  Therefore, by obtaining a Social Security number upfront, the company does not need to reach out to the applicant specifically for the Social Security number when they decide to do background checks.  Nevertheless, given the sensitivity of this data, this may still be one question not worth asking until an offer has been made.  HR expert Susan M. Heathfield emphasizes just because something is legal does not automatically mean it is a good idea (

Asking for the Social Security number on an application is legal in most states, but it is an extremely bad practice. . . . Why are employers asking for Social Security numbers from every applicant?  Seems like such a bad idea.

Noah found 2% of companies required a personality test.  I would like to see that percentage increase.  Personality is such an important element for culture-fit.  We can still respect and promote diversity while simultaneously considering personality as a success predictor within a specific corporate culture.  I believe if more companies did this, we would reduce the incidence of bad hires.

Interestingly, only 33% of companies asked specific questions related to the job opening itself.  Perhaps certain relevant technical questions on the front end would make everyone’s job easier on the back end.  It would likely expedite concentrating the viable candidate pool.

One thing is certain:  As our online recruiting and hiring systems continue to evolve, we must continue to consider the question of the questions.  Let us ensure we are asking smart questions, questions that genuinely predict success or failure.  Let us see what we can do to honor the privacy of all applicants by asking the right questions at the right times.  Finally, Let us always be willing to question our questions.

About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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