The Snowflake Test Isn’t the Best Way to Hire the Best People

woman being interviewed

The secret to any successful business is a staff that is not only talented but resilient, too. Talent isn’t the only basis for hiring today because many employers want to work with tough cookies capable of dealing with difficult tasks, challenging office settings and the likes.

To make sure they hire the toughest of the crop, some businesses turn to a debatable test called the “snowflake test.”

In theory, the snowflake test is pretty simple: it’s a series of character tests that determines the resilience of a potential candidate. However, the nature of the test remains debatable. The term “snowflake” refers to a self-entitled individual who is easily offended and sensitive. It is also a term often used to describe Millennials or Gen Z individuals in the workforce.

The idea of the term “snowflake” (and the snowflake test) is that most of the younger generation cannot handle the harshness of workplace politics and culture. Millennials and Gen Z people are dubbed as “squeamish” and believers of cancel culture, which are cons for employers looking for reliable employees. But the younger generation begs to differ since not all of them are entitled, which makes the test a discriminatory one.

With all of these arguments in mind, an employer has to ask: what is the snowflake test and is it an effective way to hire the best people?

What is the Snowflake Test?

The Snowflake Test is a set of respectful yet triggering questions that assess an individual’s resilience. None of the test questions are homophobic, racist or hateful.

However, it includes controversial and challenging concepts. Some even consider the questions as immoral, intrusive and borderline illegal.

Some of the questions often included in a snowflake test include the following:

  1. When should the minimum age be raised?
  2. What’s the right way to communicate with clients?
  3. What does privilege mean to you?
  4. How often should your salary be raised?
  5. Is there anything you like or dislike about guns?
  6. What is your opinion of your school’s current environment as it relates to your future workplace?
  7. How do you deal with the rejection of your great ideas?
  8. Should an employer offer employee benefits apart from the ones employees are already entitled to?
  9. When was the last time you cried?
  10. Do you believe in God? If so, why?
  11. What does the First Amendment mean to you?
  12. If a colleague presented you with an idea you don’t like, what do you do?
  13. What does the country mean to you?
  14. How do you react to bullies?
  15. What’s more important? Street smarts or book smarts?
  16. What’s your breakfast like?

Looking at the questions, some of them are easy to answer, but some can be difficult and may need some time to process. Apart from the questions where you’re not sure what is expected of you, there are questions that you’re unsure as to why you have to answer (e.g. “What’s your breakfast like?”).

But for some business owners, the snowflake test gives them a good idea of what kind of person sits in front of them. This is why The Silent Partner Marketing Company, a Connecticut-based business, created the snowflake test in the first place.

Where Did the Snowflake Test Come From?

person at a panel interview
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

The Silent Partner’s CEO Kyle Reyes believes the test is the answer to discovering which applicants would make great employees.

According to Reyes, the questions of the test challenge the younger generation’s concept of “trigger warnings,” which reveal which applicant is too sensitive to work in harsh work environments.

The CEO believes that there are plenty of entitled individuals who believe that they “haven’t earned vacation time, they should be handed vacation time.” Instead of dealing with such people, he prefers to “weed” them out via the snowflake test.

In defense of his questions, Reyes said they are all designed to determine an applicant’s work ethic and personality.

For example, the survey question “When was the last time you cried?” shows if a potential employee has a heart. The question concerning privilege is meant to reveal if a person is entitled or not.

To some extent, people agree with the purpose of the snowflake test. After all, a common problem in today’s workplace is people leaving the company due to “conflicts of interest.” Instead of investing in people who are bound to leave in the future (due to attitude problems or them being a “snowflake”), may as well sort through your applicants thoroughly with a test.

What Do People Use the Snowflake Test For?

If the word “snowflake” is considered debatable, why are people still searching for snowflake tests online?

As mentioned above, some businesses use the snowflake test to exclude hypersensitive or fragile applicants from the process. But apart from hiring reasons, people also use the test for the following purposes:

  • Self-assessment. For some people (particularly Millennials and Gen Z-ers), the test functions as a self-assessment tool to ensure society will not count them as weak or sensitive.
  • Cancel-culture. Canceling others is a part of today’s society. One way people are canceled is when they are labeled “snowflakes.” To see if they deserve the tag or not, they take the snowflake test online.
  • Political points. The term “snowflake” has also been a part of political debates. Some people take the snowflake test to prove their ideologies.

Is the Snowflake Test Problematic?

In theory, the snowflake test can help businesses identify potentially problematic individuals from a group of applicants. However, this test can be problematic due to the following reasons.

Beliefs are Not a Culture

Critics of the snowflake test don’t think the questions help with finding the right people to hire. Instead, they help employers find people who have the same opinion as them — which should not be the point when it comes to the hiring process. A successful business owner should find people whose skills set them apart from the rest. Look for people whose strengths are your weaknesses and vice versa.

In line with that, hiring people who possess the same beliefs as you do does not guarantee a healthy workplace. Similar beliefs do not promote a culture. You’re just working with people like you.

If you listen to people like yourself, you’d be unable to broaden your intellectual landscape or open the company for different opinions — many of which might be better than yours. It doesn’t promote a creative workspace.

Constant innovation and out-of-the-box ideas stem from the best people with different opinions, not from those who think like you.

People Can Lie With Their Tests

Apart from being “too general,” another problem of the snowflake test is you can’t tell if the applicant is lying or not. People tend to lie during their interviews to increase their chances of getting hired. They lie about the skills written on their CVs or create stories that they think might interest the recruiter.

In the case of the snowflake test, people can learn the questions by heart beforehand to impress the interviewer. They might score the job since they came prepared with the test. But once they start working, will they still be as credible as they portrayed themselves?

You May Hire People from the Same Group

Relying on the snowflake test could also lead to hiring the same type of person repeatedly. Think of it this way: the test reveals a certain group of people should be hired. The people in said group have similar beliefs and attitudes. Initially, it sounds like a good idea. But the lack of diversity in opinions and attitudes means that you’re headed for workplace monotony.

It is always better to have a diverse team. People of different characters might find it difficult to agree, but they offer different ideas for the consideration of others.

With a diverse group, you can use each person’s skill and opinion to figure out the best course of action.

The Test Doesn’t Evaluate Performance

The snowflake test does not determine an individual’s performance in the workplace. Instead, it finds people with the same personality traits. If you use this test, you won’t find competent applicants capable of doing their job. You’ll end up with followers.

The Bottom Line: The Snowflake Test is a Snowflake Itself

Despite claiming to remove the “snowflakes” in a group of applicants, the snowflake test itself is fragile and not reliable when it comes to hiring the right people.

Instead of finding people with similar opinions as yours, identify the perfect candidates with these alternatives:

  1. Find the problem solvers by asking them about practical situations. This shows you if they can think outside of the box.
  2. Spend more time with the applicants. Conduct your interview in a not-so-formal manner by doing it outside of the office. You can also organize an activity that shows if a person is truly who they claim to be.
  3. Offer a trial period. Let potential candidates know they can show their skills during a particular time. If they want to stay longer, they have to prove themselves.

Weeding out snowflakes shouldn’t be a strategy when it comes to hiring the right people. Instead of focusing on beliefs, focus on the skills to secure your company’s success.

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