Gen Z job seeker refused to do a 90-minute task for free—now the CEO who complained about it is being slammed

An employer has sparked fierce debate after being so shocked a Gen Z job seeker refused to spend 90 minutes on a hiring test because it “looked like a lot of work” that he vented about the situation on X, formerly known as Twitter.

People who’ve job-hunted recently have probably quickly found out that getting hired is no longer as simple as submitting a résumé followed by an in-person interview or two. 

Job seekers today are often expected to prove they’re the perfect fit for the role through seemingly endless rounds of interviews, aptitude tests, and presentations. 

It amounts to hours of prep and work without the guarantee of a job at the end of it—and for those unemployed and interviewing with multiple companies, it can feel like a full-time job.

But, as this Gen Z applicant will have learned the hard way, pushing back on such tasks could cost you the job.

The CEO, who goes by M. Stanfield on the Elon Musk–owned social media platform, admitted he was immediately put off the potential employee after they refused to complete a financial modeling test.

The tweet read: 

“Me: really enjoyed the call. Please see attached financial modeling test

“Gen Z applicant: this looks like a lot of work. Without knowing where I stand in the process, I’m not comfortable spending 90 minutes in Excel

“Me:…well…I can tell you where you stand now”

In a follow-up tweet, he posted that “if an analyst can’t hammer that out in 90 min, they’re not the right person” for the investment analyst gig going.

Speaking to Fortune, Stanfield—who declined to confirm the name of his company—said such tests are fairly common in his industry as they’re used to identify the skill level of potential employees.

During an initial screening call “the steps in the interview process” were laid out in full, he added, and candidates were also told that the test in question “shouldn’t take more than an hour.”

“If you want to get hired as an investment analyst, at least at my fund, you need to demonstrate your ability to analyze an investment,” he said, adding the task wasn’t on a live project but an example situation.

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

The candidate’s application didn’t go any further than the test.

‘Boomer mindset’

Perhaps unsurprisingly, declaring that you’re rejecting a young job seeker because they don’t want to do unpaid labor didn’t wash down well. 

“If you can’t pay the person for their work, you’re not the right employer,” one person wrote. 

“Applicant is right,” another added. “Unless you offered to compensate for that 90 minutes. He has no idea how many applicants remain in the process. He probably has interviews with other businesses. Effort vs reward definitely not there for this. Good for him.”

Some accused the hiring manager of having a “boomer mindset,” while others shared their own experiences of spending hours outside of work on post-interview tests only to be ghosted by the employer.

In Stanfield’s defense, he insisted that he would have “gladly paid and probably hired” the unnamed Gen Zer if they said: “Give me $1,000 and I’ll break this deal down in amazing detail.”

However, he also proposed that the entire generation “would benefit from being in more fistfights at a young age. A few bumps and bruises does a lot of good.”

Gen Z is shaking up the world of work—and recruiters’ expectations

Gen Z job seekers have been blasted by recruiters on social media lately for being “always late” and having long lists of demands despite their lack of experience.

Meanwhile, even young workers who have made it past the recruitment process are catching employers off guard with their unusual requests, like asking to skip a mandatory meeting to hit the gym.

However, employers and hiring managers alike may not moan about their young recruits for long. 

As Gen Z becomes increasingly influential—they’re set to surpass boomers in the workforce this year—the youngest generation of workers is expected to shake up traditional business practices because hiring managers looking to attract the hot commodity will need to reevaluate their expectations.

As Glassdoor’s chief economist Aaron Terrazas previously told Fortune: “With fewer boomers and more zoomers in the workplace, companies are being forced to adjust the benefits they offer and their employee engagement strategies.”

Have you ever pushed back against an employer’s tasks or tests during an interview application process? Get in touch [email protected]

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