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…