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News » Gen Z job seeker rejects unpaid task, sparks debate

Gen Z job seeker rejects unpaid task, sparks debate

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES — An employer has sparked a heated debate after venting on social media about a Gen Z job applicant who refused to complete a 90-minute financial modeling test, citing it as “a lot of work.” 

The CEO, identified as M. Stanfield, expressed shock at the candidate’s response and swiftly rejected them from the hiring process for an investment analyst role.

Stanfield, in a Fortune interview, defended the test as a common practice in the investment industry to assess candidates’ skills. He claimed the applicant was informed about the interview steps, including the test, which was expected to take no more than an hour.

“I think it’s pretty customary in the investment business to perform modeling tests,” he added. “Otherwise, how is an employer supposed to know if you have the skills to do the job?”

Unpaid labor debate rages on

Critics argue that expecting unpaid work, particularly without transparency about the hiring process, is unfair and indicative of a “boomer mindset.” This term has been used to criticize outmoded business practices that don’t account for modern workforce expectations.

One user said, “Applicant is right. Unless you offered to compensate for that 90 minutes. He has no idea how many applicants remain in the process.”

Another emphasized, “Top talent in [Gen Z] doesn’t play games. If the hiring process isn’t lean and transparent, they’ll go to the next employer. There’s not even evidence that these multi-round interviews yield better employees. If anything, it weeds out high performers.”

Others also shared experiences of being ghosted by employers after investing hours in post-interview tests.

In Stanfield’s defense, he explained that he “would have gladly paid and probably hired” the Gen Z applicant.

Gen Z shaking up workplace norms

The incident highlights the growing tension between traditional hiring practices and the expectations of Gen Z job seekers

As this generation is poised to overtake Baby Boomers as the most populous generation in the workforce, employers may need to reevaluate their strategies to attract and retain top talent. 

Gen Z’s unique values, such as prioritizing work-life balance, flexibility, and meaningful work, are challenging conventional business practices. Employers who fail to adapt risk losing out on this highly sought-after demographic. 

As Glassdoor stated, “Gen Z workers – who care deeply about community connections, about having their voices heard in the workplace, about transparent and responsive leadership, and about diversity and inclusion – make up a rapidly growing share of the workforce.”

Forbes previously included Gen Z among next year’s workplace trends to watch for, saying that they will comprise 23% of employees globally.

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