The Hidden Test in Every Job Application

Andrew Quinn
5 min readMar 22, 2022

Applying for a job through a company’s jobs portal is a game for suckers, dupes, and fools. I learned this after spending a couple months trying it. Having wasted enough of my life on this pointless exercise, I can report back that there’s no worse use of your time.

In the period before my enlightenment, I became increasingly frustrated at the automated rejection letters following my application to positions I knew I was well qualified for, so I ran an experiment by applying to a few jobs that were mirror images of the one I’d excelled at a couple years prior. Zero invitations to interview. Immediate rejections.

What the hell?

I started turning this problem over in my mind: What’s the point of a jobs portal if companies don’t even make contact with the obviously qualified candidates that connect with them through it?

That’s when I remembered Nigerian Prince scams.

Authors Dubner and Levitt of Freakonomics fame tell a memorable anecdote in one of their sequel editions:

“The method notwithstanding, seducing people to sort themselves into different categories can be all sorts of useful. It can also be extraordinarily profitable. Consider the following e-mail:

Dear Sir/Madam, TOP SECRET:

I am one of the officials in the Energy management board in Lagos, Nigeria. I got your

information in a business directory from the Chamber of Commerce and Industries when I was searching for a RELIABLE, HONEST, AND TRUSTWORTHY person to entrust this business with.

During the award of a contract to bring Electrification to Urban centres, a few of my

colleagues and I had inflated the amount of this contract. The OVER-INVOICED AMOUNT is being safeguarded under our custody.



Andrew Quinn

Business & Tech | Reassembled memories | @ACQuinn_