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Study: Teens Struggle To Get Hired When Asked To Complete Online Personality Tests

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Teenagers looking for work now have something else to worry about.

Are they being screened out of jobs they're qualified for, because they don't have the right personality? As CBS2's Jessica Moore reports, some say mandatory personality testing is the problem.

Looking for a job? Sure you have the skills, but do you have the personality?

"Who wouldn't be intimidated about it? It's basically a competition," said Crystal Perez, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

"It's kind of crazy, kind of nerve-wracking, because you don't know if you're their type," added Joseph Mooney, also of Bed-Stuy.

Hundreds of retail and hospitality companies, like McDonald's, RadioShack, Walmart and Loews Theaters use personality quizzes to screen out applicants before the interview process.

"The personality assessment test is not appropriate for younger adults," says Marjorie Parker, the executive director of JobsFirstNYC.

A four year study by the organization found a link between personality quizzes and a spike in teenage unemployment. Parker says the questions are often daunting and irrelevant.

"If you go by a store and you see a dollar bill on the sidewalk, would you take the dollar bill and walk in the store and ask someone did you lose this? Or would you take the dollar bill?" she says, for example. "The young adult with limited work experience, still developing in terms of their brain and their maturity and their work experience, they're not going to be able to pass this test."

Many teens in the study said the online personality tests were too long or too confusing, and some low income applicants said they had trouble securing internet access long enough to complete the questionnaire.

"I'm not sure I agree with the JobsFirstNYC study. Listen, every young person has access to a computer in the library or at school today," career expert Stephen Viscusi countered.

He said the personality quizzes are important for employers and for applicants who may not interview well. He also said taking the test is a test in itself.

"If you don't have the patience to fill out the application or a test that's 200 questions long, you're not going to have the patience for that target customer or that Loews theater customer," Viscusi said.

So with more companies adopting the personality quizzes, teens looking for work better also work on their people skills.

Some companies, like Whole Foods, have scrapped the personality quizzes after finding they didn't ensure the company was hiring employees who could actually do the job. Others, like Chipotle and the Gap have tailored their quizzes to specific jobs.

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