Birdfeud: Too Smart to Work

Too Smart to Work

Could Your IQ Stand in the Way of the Job You Want?

When it comes to IQ and jobs, how smart a test says you are could stand in the way of the job you’re trying to pursue.  There’s been an old article from 2000 resurfacing and making the social media rounds regarding a person who was denied a position as a police officer because his IQ was too high. (You can see the original story from 2000 on ABC News here.)

Robert Jordan, the candidate in question took the New London Police Department to court based on what he felt to be discrimination. However, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of New London’s decision stating they had “shown a rational basis for the policy.” While the policy might be unwise, they reported, it was a rational way to reduce job turnover—which was New London’s defense stating candidates with a high IQ were more likely to quit due to boredom.

While this is an old case, the debate it brings up still resonates. Is it fair to reject candidates for being too smart? Similarly, we often hear of candidates being taken out of consideration for roles because they have too many advanced degrees or high educational pedigrees.

Are companies justified in making a decision to not consider applicants because of high test scores? In the case of New London, it could very well make a person question the fact that the people hired to serve and protect are not the brightest of the people that may have applied for the positions—and when public safety is concerned, it could bring pause to such decisions.

Other studies cite that if you have an IQ of at least 115, you can do any job. (Read more in: 11 Uncomfortable Facts About How IQ Affects Your Life) And, let’s remember that IQ does not determine what jobs people are passionate about, the level of their social skills, or what drives and motivates them as an individual.

Do you think it’s okay to refuse to consider job applicants based on a high IQ or test score? Vote in this week’s birdfeud! And, share your additional thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

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About Robin Rayburn

Robin L. Rayburn is the Editor & General Manager of Robin was introduced to the recruitment industry in 2007 and her passion for people has never let her stray far from it since. In her spare time she manages her blog,, tweets from @interviewingcom and @chitowntexan, and is always striving to help those around her who have a vision for success. You can also find Robin on LinkedIn and Google+.

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  1. InterviewSuccessMay 2, 2013 at 12:47 pmReply

    You bring up some interesting points, Robin. While some employers may base their hiring decisions on things like an IQ test, the fact is, candidates shouldn’t be judged on this level. While IQ can play a large factor in some positions, judging a candidate instead on work accomplishments, portfolios, recommendations, as well as their professional stories will leave employers with better hires in the long run.

  2. Ryan JosephMay 1, 2013 at 2:18 pmReply

    lol..This honks me off.. 1) IQ isn’t a guarantee of intelligence.. IQ is about logic and processing skills. In an military or police role, someone who can (correctly) process information very quickly would be a massive asset. I’d much rather see people like that in key roles, than people with an average IQ. A caveman can score a high IQ, but that doesn’t mean he’d know anything about the world.

  3. Robin RayburnMay 1, 2013 at 1:28 pmReply

    Ryan, I’m sure you have an opinion on this :)

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