"Impossible" Logic Question in Job Application Sparks Fury

A seemingly intense "abstract reasoning" job assessment has gained traction online, with Reddit users finding themselves struggling to solve it. The task itself has sparked criticism over the use of such assessments in job interview processes.

"I wouldn't wish an 'abstract reasoning' job assessment on my worst enemy," wrote Reddit user theperfectsphere, along with an image of the task on a computer screen. The image was shared to popular Subreddit "antiwork," where users discuss issues with employment including workplace treatment, conditions, pay and promote "ending work."

The question shows a pattern of shapes, asking the applicant which of the given examples would be the next to fit.

With over 15,000 votes in 12 hours, the question has gripped Reddit users who discussed which it is likely to be. The unanimous decision was "C" with each row requiring a shape with two circles, a U shape and curved lines—all of which were missing from the final row but evident in C.

"Why are they doing this to people?" commented one Reddit user.

The difficulty of the assessment caused a discussion on exactly how useful such questions are in the hiring process, and whether they can be unfair on some candidates.

Although the original poster didn't specify which job role the test was for, many others claimed to have faced similar level ones for retail and fast food applications.

For many commenters, the assessments were dubbed as ways to faze out those with learning disabilities, who may find such tasks harder. "This is exactly what they're doing. I'm diagnosed with a visual processing disorder. This image looks like it was taken straight out of the assessments I took to be diagnosed. This test is impossible for me to figure out, even though I'm strong at pattern recognition. My brain just jumbles up visual material," commented one user.

"For what it's worth, I was able to perform perfectly fine at my fast food jobs in undergrad despite having a pretty significant processing disorder," they added.

"This is literally one of the tests used to diagnose ADHD," commented another user.

The post also drew comparisons to IQ tests, which have often received controversy when used within the hiring process. In 1971, the Supreme Court famously ruled that requiring applicants to take IQ tests violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the Griggs v. Duke Power Company case. The Supreme Court ruled that employment tests must be "related to job performance."

In light of the Civil Rights Act, Duke Power Company introduced two tests to its job transfer requirements in 1965, one of which was an IQ test—something which statistically at the time African-American candidates were far less likely to successfully complete due to the consequences of segregated education.

Despite criticism of the Reddit test, some argued in its defense, reasoning in favor of both abstract reasoning and IQ tests. "Honestly, it depends on the job. This seems like it is an IQ test question, specifically visual/spatial recognition," commented one user.

"It is literally a way of filtering applications out so they don't have to physically review too many. So you can look at 50 people rather than 1,000. Sadly the best person for the job might be in the 950 that get canned by the rest (because frankly they're NOT relevant to anything resembling an actual job) but any sample of 50 will statistically have somebody that is good enough," added another.

"The real con is companies paying for the tests, if they actually think there is any genuine science that they are getting the "best" job candidates. If you've got the imagination to dream up bulls**t questions you've got quite the career in grifting ahead of you..."

Outside job interview
Stock image of job applicants. Getty Images