Nira is one of thousands of qualified job candidates whose luck has seemingly run out. “What haven’t I tried for?” she recalls. “I’ve answered ads in the insurance industry, I’ve competed for jobs in banking, as an administrator in a law office, as a human resources administrator at a building company, and for a senior position at a chemical company up north. Nothing came of it.”
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Over time, her personal finances worsened, as did her self-confidence. “Just a month and a half ago, after I’d become very, very pessimistic, I got a job as a purchasing manager at a large public institution,” she says. “I hope this marks the end of a very difficult period in my life.”
For most jobs she applied for, Nira was sent by her perspective employers to companies like Pilat and Keinan Sheffy that test job candidates. The results of the testing, which can last up to seven hours, weren’t bad. But Nira scored lower than a competing candidate who got the job. Not surprisingly, she wanted to see the results to better understand what happened.
“It was important for me to understand where I hadn’t done well − what part of my personality could be preventing me from getting results good enough for the institute to recommend me for the job,” she says. “This way, I hoped I’d have a chance to improve my abilities and be able to work on my personal characteristics ahead of that fateful day.”
When she didn’t get the job she applied for, Nira asked the testing institute to see her full results, not just the final grade or the number of points she scored. “I was turned down,” she says.
Until two weeks ago, testing institutes were in league with employers in refusing to let job seekers get the details of their test results that might explain why they were turned down for a position. The institutes made candidates sign away their right to see the results. They feared that rejected candidates would appeal and demand changes. They might even start legal proceedings against the institutes or the psychologists administering the tests.
They even feared that rejected job seekers might become violent, causing testers to tone down their conclusions. That would make the reports less useful and could lose the testers business. Employers, for their part, feared that revealing test results might expose them to charges of discrimination of one sort or another.
Two primary reasons
Yoram Shooltheis, co-manager of a portal dedicated to human resources issues, suggests two reasons why the testing institutes were so firmly opposed to revealing results.
“First, they usually hire young psychologists, really just kids, to write the opinions. If a copy of the detailed opinion were given over to job candidates, there would be all kinds of criticism that would require increased controls over written opinions. That would cost money,” says Shooltheis.
As for the second reason: “Let’s say I apply for a job at a government company and I’m tested by one of the institutes. The test results are kept by us. Some time passes, I leave the company and now I’m applying for other positions, say, at an insurance company .... The institute can show the results to my new employer and on forever.”
Over the last few years, job candidates have turned to the Justice Ministry, which is responsible for enforcing the Protection of Privacy Law regarding employee testing. They’ve even recruited the support of MKs like Shelly Yacimovch (Labor) and Haim Katz (Likud).
A year ago, Yoram Hacohen, who heads the ministry’s law, information and technology authority, issued regulations that require the institutes, without charge, to detail to tested job seekers why they were rejected. Now prospective employees can see the results and recommendation, too. And Hacohen barred the institutes from passing test results on to other employers.
The institutes, which were unhappy with the new directives, went to battle. The five biggest − Adam Milo, Keinan Sheffy, Pilat (which has since been acquired by HiCapital), Gisha Shona and Top C − appealed to the Tel Aviv District Court and the Justice Ministry to rescind the directives. The psychologists’ association joined the petition, since many of its members work for the institutes.
In their petition the institutes claimed that Hacohen’s directives violated the law and that test results would be written in a way that never harmed a candidate’s chance. “This will impinge on the quality of the personnel directors’ choices in accepting or rejecting candidates and in assessing them for the appropriate job,” the petition read.
Key court ruling
Judge Judith Shitzer told the two sides to negotiate a compromise − without a representative of job candidates taking part. The compromise, which was turned into a court ruling, says testing institutes must let candidates see the psychologists’ evaluations, including test results, but with key omissions. These include the sections on the job seeker’s personality traits that are related to the job.
“From the point of view of the job candidate, I see some advantage in the compromise that calls for releasing more of the results to job candidates. This will lower the chances that a public institute will post a job tailored to a specific person,” says Benny Wallach, a former personnel manager at Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, and until recently, deputy CEO for human resources at government company Ashot Ashkelon.
“But the fact the results are fully released is a disadvantage. The employer still keeps a lot of cards close to his chest. He doesn’t need to reveal why he accepted or rejected a candidate, and discrimination can continue to exist.”
In addition, job candidates who want to see test results must make an appointment with the institute. They can view them in a room under supervision and sometimes in the presence of other candidates. They have no more than 30 minutes to take notes by hand. They are forbidden to photocopy documents.
Avi, who applied for a job as an investment adviser at Mizrahi-Tefahot, went last week to see his evaluation. He says he had to turn over his cell phone before seeing the documents to prevent him from photographing them.
“I think they’ll compromise quickly as more and more people come to their offices and copy the results,” he says. “For the testing institute this is a real waste of money − a secretary scheduling the appointment, allocating a room, a waiting room for the ‘guests’ who are always trying to extend the time they’ve been given because 30 minutes isn’t enough.”
Nimrod Betzer, the CEO of Adam Milo, says he’s happy with the compromise but chooses his words carefully out of concerns that job candidates will go back to putting pressure on the Justice Ministry.
“The compromise that was reached lets the institutes provide a detailed report to the customer, who is the potential employer, and a reduced version for the job candidate,” he says. “There are details about the candidate that are for the employers’ eyes only, but the job candidate will be given a detailed explanation, too. The institutes can preserve their level of reporting and the confidence of both sides.”