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Is the Snowflake Test a "Snowflake"?

Pragnesh Anekal

October 28, 2022

Every job calls for a particular talent and, to some extent, resiliency. Some businesses want to make sure they hire tough, resilient individuals since their work environment demand these qualities in each employee. To ensure that each employee can handle everything that comes with the work, some companies use the "snowflake test".

The word "snowflake" depicts weak, unreliable, overly sensitive, and easily offended individuals. In fact, the term is a popular way of describing the younger generation, i.e. the millennials and Gen Z folks.

However, several people believe this test is not the right way to determine how resilient or tough employees are.

Let us first see what the snowflake test is and then understand whether there is any value in using this as your pre-employment tool.

What is the Snowflake Test?

The snowflake test consists of a series of questions used to determine whether the candidate is resilient or is an overly sensitive and weak individual. The questions are personal and somewhat triggering.

However, none of the questions is homophobic, racist or hateful.

This test includes questions such as:

When was the last you cried and why?
Do you believe in God? If so, why?
What does privilege mean to you?
What does the First Amendment mean to you?
What's more important? Street smart or book smart?
How do you feel about guns?

Answers to questions like these are meant to determine whether you are reliable and resilient. However, by looking at these questions, you can guess why the test is considered controversial and might as well be illegal.

Problems with the Snowflake Test

Any pre-employment tool worth its salt can check a set of boxes, making it a viable option for businesses. While the snowflake test claims to shoot for the stars, it is barely capable of landing on your roof.

By being unable to meet the most fundamental set of criteria which makes a pre-employment test usable, the snowflake test fails across the board.

No Scientific Evidence

Every pre-employment tool that is deemed usable has evidence which can back the outcomes of the test. For E.g. the Big 5 Personality test is used to rate you on five broad personality traits, and there is evidence that these personality traits are related to job performance.

However, there is absolutely no scientific evidence which shows that questions such as "When was the last time you cried?" or "What is your opinion on guns?" have anything to do with how reliable and resilient a person is.

No Diversity in the Workforce

Time and time again, research has shown how diversity can benefit every organization. Many organizations are making diversity hiring one of their priorities as it results in hiring the person based on their skill as opposed to their ethnicity, race or gender.

However, the objective of the snowflake test is to hire like-minded individuals. Making every hiring decision through the test results in an extremely homogenous workforce with no diverse opinions.

No Relation to Job Performance

The most fundamental aspect of a pre-employment tool is its ability to predict job performance. Every test you consider consists of questions to measure some aspect of job performance.

When a candidate takes the snowflake test, there is no guarantee that positive test results, i.e. the candidate is resilient and reliable, imply that your candidate's job performance will be stellar.

This shows that there is no correlation between the outcomes of the test and job performance.

Alternatives to the Snowflake Test

Despite hiring being one of the toughest parts of building a business, following these three basic rules can significantly increase your chances of making a better hire:

Use valid pre-employment tools

If culture fit was one of the reasons you came across the snowflake test, you could take the help of personality tests like The Big 5 Personality Test. This can help you determine the personality of the individual you're hiring and how well they can fit into your culture.

Prioritize skill-based hiring

By giving importance to the candidate's skill over details such as race, gender, or ethnicity, you end up with the most skilled person for the role, which can boost your business.

Hire slow and fire fast

Ensure that your overall hiring process is not rushed just to end up hiring an incompetent individual. Instead, take your time vetting candidates to increase your chances of making the right hire. However, if you make a bad hire, be sure to fire fast, as bad hires can significantly cost your business.

On a Final Note

Pre-employment tests are meant to minimize the possibility of making bad hires for your organization. Yet, the snowflake test does the opposite. It not only restricts your organization to hire only specific personality types but also does this at the cost of job performance.

Hence, removing "snowflakes" from your organization must not be an objective. Instead, stick to prioritizing individuals based on skill and competence rather than looking to hire people with the same beliefs as you have.

Pragnesh Anekal

Pragnesh is the EiR at Adaface. He loves reading books more than scrolling through social media, which is a big deal if you ask him.

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