The Latest Job Interview Test: Measuring Your Brain Waves

In order to gauge their passion for advertising, an ad agency measured the brainwaves of its intern applicants. This is what happened.

If you’ve ever been through an extensive recruitment process, you already know some of the ways companies try to get inside your head. Impossible calculations. Mind bending riddles. Practical problems. Psychometric testing. Left-field questions (like this real-life question: "A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?"). As recruiters try to streamline the hiring process and minimize the potential for decisions that could backfire later, they’re turning to ever more sophisticated means. It makes sense: when people are your most important assets, you need to do everything to ensure they’re the right people.

This is a new one, though: As part of a selection process for five new interns, TBWA\Istanbul, an ad agency in Turkey, placed electroencephalography (EEG) headgear on 503 applicants. Their stated goal was to test the "passion" of the youngsters for ad messaging. Those with strong responses made it through; those with less reaction weren’t so lucky.

You can watch more in the video below.

TBWA recruited a neuro-technology firm called Minder to provide the equipment and turn the brain waves into comparable data. Exactly how useful this information is is open to question. Presumably, the subjects could have strong responses for lots of reasons—not all of them related to their passion for the job, or their ability to do it. It’s the sort of process that gives the impression of scientific rigor, but ends up possibly measuring the wrong things. Personally, I feel sorry for the out-of-work graduates who have to put up with it.

Add New Comment


  • Lucas M

    i agree with you ben. emotional response shows that the subjects are easily swayed by the things they are shown. how this sensitivity relates to being able to sway others remains unclear. Ever see that movie GATTICA?


  • Bruce

    Wow, EEG's as measures of interest in ads. OK,why not. You can also use a shotgun as a can opener. But be careful of unintended consequences, right? Clearly, Turkey doesn't bother with laws of what you can do or ask in an interview. Maybe they should put the machines on their heads first and see if it really measures anything related.