don’t mention your Mensa membership

Don’t mention in your cover letter or resume that you’re a Mensa member.

Just … don’t.

A candidate just told me that although she’s unable to use the program that is a critical component of the job, she’s sure she could do the job well anyway, and she added in parentheses: “(I am a member of MENSA)”

It’s not convincing, and it’s a little obnoxious.

(As an interesting side note, the qualifications for Mensa aren’t even all that high, but that’s so not the point.)

{ 80 comments… read them below }

  1. jaded hr rep*

    I’ve seen that on numerous resumes, and I always make a mental note of these candidates in case we ever develop a new position that requires intense, high-level, creative riddle or brain-teaser solving.

  2. EdLoach*

    Surely it depends on how and why you mention it. In your example you are correct that it isn’t relevant, but suppose you’ve been holding a volunteer position in Mensa such as a newsletter editor who has had to meet strict deadlines regularly for a considerable period of time, and that deadlines are an important facet of your new job? It’s the same old thing – tailor your resume to the application and only include what is relevant. (Mensa member who did mention his membership on his last application and got the job).

  3. Erica*

    I think that in general, if someone mentions their MENSA credentials (or if they really, really wanted to join MENSA enough to well … join) then they will not fit the corporate culture of whatever company I am working or hiring for.

  4. Haakon Rian Ueland*

    How sad it must be, Erica, to work for a company that does not wish employees with an IQ in the top 2 %.

  5. Anonymous*

    How sad it must be, Haakon, to live a life where your value as a person is determined by an arbitrary score on an arbitrary test… and where you feel like that means you know better than other people.

  6. J Parsons*

    I have it on my resume, but in the context of the various volunteer positions I’ve held. I agree that it does come across and arrogant if it is just listed there with no context.

    I’m wondering, however, how a sheet of paper stating that my IQ is in the top 2% is any different than a sheet of paper stating that I have a degree in whatever.

    When you get down to it, a college degree is nothing more than proof that you passed a 4-year series of arbitrary tests instead of just one comprehensive (albeit arbitrary) test.

    Also, a degree is specific to one area, whereas a high IQ indicates an ability to work in many different areas. It is also indicative of other valuable skill sets that a degree usually doesn’t cover (like problem solving and creative thinking). Sure, I can list those as traits on my resume and nobody would think that was inappropriate, but if I added some sort of proof of those traits, by way of my Mensa qualification, it’s now a bad thing?

  7. Ask a Manager*

    EdLoach, mentioning that you worked for Mensa is legitimate; that’s mentioning work experience. What I’m advising against is mentioning that you happen to be a member of Mensa. Comes across as obnoxious and also like the person thinks it means something about their ability to do the job (it doesn’t). It’s like listing IQ; it’s weird and out of place.

    Haakon, Erica isn’t saying she doesn’t hire want to hire smart people. She’s saying she doesn’t want to hire someone who doesn’t understand what’s appropriate, and mentioning your membership in Mensa as a way of arguing your fitness for the job just isn’t.

    If you’re smart, it comes across. No smarmy ID card needed.

  8. Anonymous*

    It depends on the field, and the employer, and in what context you’re mentioning it. Sometimes I say “I’m in Mensa” and insecure people hear “I’m in Mensa and you’re not, dummy!” and hostility ensues. Others are interested in it as much as they might be interested in learning a potential employee is part of any social organization- it just proves the potential employee has a life outside work, and is well-rounded. Most people I know only mention Mensa if they have held leadership positions, as proof that they have a specific type of experience (i.e. newslettter editor, business manager, website administrator). Sometimes it works for you, and sometimes it works against you.

    I have a strong feeling that your applicant actually is not a Mensan. Why? Because it’s Mensa, not MENSA. The name is not an acronym. Members know that.

    (Sorry about the anonymous posting. I keep trying to sign in using my Blogger account, and it keeps telling me “request could not be processed”.)

  9. Anonymous*

    Very poor advice from Ask a Manager. First of all, as a recruiter for a major company it is VERY common for me to see students from top MBA programs list their GMAT scores if their GMAT is > 700. (Which is very close to the level required for Mensa membership.) I see no difference in including membership in an organization that requires high performance on a standardized test and actually including standardized test scores. I've also seen MBA students put Mensa on their resume – and these students were from top 20 MBA programs, whose career counselors clearly weren't concerned about its inclusion.

    Perhaps it depends on the type of jobs you're going for. If you're going for low-level jobs where managers may be afraid of someone of higher intellect, then it could hurt you. However, if you're going for jobs that require strategic thinking and using advanced analytics for business decisions, then evidence that you're a quick study and can handle complex though may be seen as a benefit. Also, bear in mind that Mensa isn't just a membership card: it's a club. Many Mensa members are also involved in leadership roles at the local and national level – and leadership experience is ALWAYS good on a resume.

    In short, I'd recommend that anyone take the advice here (or anywhere) with a grain of salt. It amuses me to hear people say what candidates should and shouldn't do for recruiters. As a recruiter for one of the world's leading companies, I find that some of the advice I agree with and others I don't. In the end you can just be yourself. Don't commit any obvious blunders (errors, badmouthing previous employers, etc.) and put your best foot forward and you'll find the position that's the best fit for you.

  10. Millicent*

    To the managers who decline to hire a Mensan, ask yourself how Mensa is different from the Lions Club, the PTA, a church, Toastmasters, or any other group of like-minded people. It’s not, and you could easily be prejudicing yourself against a very bright and motivated candidate.

    As a member of Mensa, I hold two offices (one local and another in a special interest group) and I spent two years editing a newsletter. At times, this has been experience relevant to the position I seek.

    But to clarify another point, there is a lot of misunderstanding about Mensa. Yes, the IQ test is the qualifying factor, but it’s not really what the organization is about. It’s a social/ networking organization that caters to intellectuals. In addition to the local group activities, Mensa sponsors an average of about two large parties per month, all of which have speakers presenting on a diverse range of topics, not to mention free food and beer. :-) It has resources for travel, for parents of gifted children, and it sponsors college scholarships. The recipient need not be a member. It has over 100 special interest groups for people who want to find others with similar hobbies.

    Mensa also has many professional networking opportunities. I can consult others in my field or get free legal and financial advice from professionals (who are my friends) any time I need it. In short, Mensa is very freakin’ FUN. Not to mention practical.

    Are there people who joined only for the sake of bragging rights? Yeah, some did, and others even claim to be a member when they’re actually not. But others joined for different reasons – and have developed leadership experience and honed transferable skills while we were at it. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  11. Millicent*

    Oh, and for whatever it’s worth, I don’t have my membership on my resume . . . because it’s not that relevant to being a mental health therapist. But my co-workers are aware that I’m a member and I get along with all of them just fine.

  12. nuqotw*

    A Mensa membership is not remotely the same as a degree.

    Mensa (which, incidentally, on its website, uses “Mensa”) membership is determined by performance in the top 2% on a standard intelligence test. No studying, no long term commitment. Childhood test scores are admissible.

    A bachelor’s degree represents around 4800 hours of work (40 hrs of studying per week x 15 weeks per semester x 8 semesters). A 2 year master’s degree represents around 3000 hours of work (50 hours of study/research/writing per week x 15 weeks per semester * 4 semesters). A Ph.D. represents around 12,500 hours of work (50 hours per week * 50 weeks per year * 5 years).

    Many, many more that 2% of people are can and do earn a bachelor’s degree. When I interview someone, it is much more important that they demonstrate the ability to work consistently on a specific set of tasks. A post-high-school degree demonstrates dedication as well as specific ability. If you attempt to present one-off performance as evidence of these qualities, you can bet that I am going to worry about how you will perform in the work world.

  13. Carla*

    I’ve had my membership on my resume under “Professional Affiliations” for years. Any company that is intimidated by that isn’t a company that I’d like to work for.
    For those that know what Mensa is about, they’ll know that I’m a good problem solver and work well under pressure. It’s an icebreaker if nothing else. Isn’t the point of a resume/interview to prove that you’re better/quicker/smarter/more intelligent than the other applicants?

  14. J Parsons*


    Then what of certifications (IT and the like)? That’s a one-off performance on a single exam, but it is accepted by most people as a valid demonstration of ability. (Or the ability to complete a $40,000 6-week crash course just prior to taking the test.)

    I was not advocating that membership in Mensa is a substitute for a degree, just that a degree demonstrates one or more specific abilities (as you pointed out, the ability to meet a long-term goal and the possession of a specific body of knowledge) and a high IQ demonstrates a different set of abilities.

    If you, as an employer, value the former set of abilities, then hire someone with a degree, but don’t dismiss someone who presents the later as proof of an additional set of abilities.

    In the original post, the person in question didn’t meet the qualifications of the job and tried to use her membership in Mensa as a substitute. I agree that it wasn’t the wisest move on her part, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else should avoid mentioning their affiliation. They should just use more tact and make sure it is made relevant to the job they are applying for.

  15. Ask a Manager*

    Intelligence is highly significant, of course. And I look for intelligence when I hire.

    But I’m going to figure that out through the interviewing process, not through your Mensa membership. You can have a 160 IQ but still not have the specific type of brain/intelligence that’s going to make you good at a particular job. Good interviewers can tell if your brain is well-matched with a particular job or not; listing an IQ (or an IQ stand-in, like Mensa) indicates you don’t quite get how this all works, and that you inflate the importance of it (and that’s the obnoxious part).

    If you’re smart, a good interviewer is going to know. Really.

  16. Rebecca*

    Millicent, the Lions Club, the PTA, the church, and Toastmasters let anyone who’s interested join. They don’t make you take a test to prove you’re good enough first.

    Carla, the point of a resume/interview is to prove that you’re the best person for the job. This does not necessarily entail being better/quicker/smarter/more intelligent than everyone else.

  17. J Parsons*

    That could be said for anything a person puts on a resume. Why list my education? The interviewer can figure it out in the interview. Why list my skills? The interviewer can figure it out in the interview.

    People list their education because it is a substitute for listing all of the things they learned in college. People list certifications because it is a substitute for listing all of the particular skills they have in the area. And people list participation in Mensa because it is a substitute for listing their IQ outright.

    Personally, I value my intelligence more than my education, if only for the fact that I’ve seen people with similar degrees to mine who couldn’t find a clue with two hands and a flashlight. And I know people with high IQs and no college degree who can do the job better the person with a degree.

    Obviously, you have a particular bias against Mensans. As Millicent pointed out, it is not any different than any other professional organization. People should exercise their own judgment in listing it on a resume, but any employer who would instantly peg a candidate as “obnoxious” for listing it is not worth working for.

    I do “get how this works.” I’m just more open-minded to how people choose to demonstrate their abilities and skill-set.

    Frankly, you are right in that it will all come out in the interview. If the woman in your post had presented herself better, it is entirely possible that you would have brought her in for an interview and she would have demonstrated an ability to quickly learn the software you needed her to know. Some people are like that. Just don’t dismiss people because of who they choose to affiliate themselves with. Last time I checked, that was discrimination.

  18. Millicent*

    Lemme see if I have this right. I’m ok with listing my GPA on my resume, I’m ok with listing the ‘outstanding student award’ I received in grad school, listing my exclusive professional honor society membership there is fine, as is listing my professional license, as is listing every other community involvement or publication. But if I list Mensa, that makes me bad because now it sounds like I might be smart.

    I think our stumbling block is the assumption that Mensa is “a society for smart people who need to have someone certify their intelligence,” with “smarmy ID card(s).” It’s one thing to discard an application from someone who isn’t qualified but tries to make it sound like they are anyway. It’s a very different thing to discard an application coming from a qualified individual who belongs to a group you don’t know much about. Not to be rude, but that much is clear. And you’re allowing your prejudices to play out in your hiring practices, which isn’t good for your organization. Not good for the applicant either, but at least s/he will find a job elsewhere, under a manager who won’t have issues with their group involvements.

    I joined Mensa because I was new to my town, and while I liked my then-co-workers, I wasn’t a big enough drinker to fit very well with their scene. “You’re good people, Mill,” one of them observed in slurred tones, as he dropped his arm over my shoulder. “One of the best. But you’re too deep a thinker. Kind of stuffy, really.” :-( I just wanted a conversation about something other than who was sleeping with whom around the office. I was lonely.

    Then I saw a small blurb in the newspaper advertising a test for Mensa qualification. I’d known for years that I qualified, but this ad got me to thinking. Maybe Mensa had other “stuffy” people.

    Wow, I was really disappointed on that score. ;-) They weren’t stuffy at all. No dissertations, no back-stabbing, no trying to prove who’s better than whom. They were nice, funny, and personable. When my basement flooded, they sent me money and told me to pay it forward someday. When my dad died, they lent me their shoulders to cry on. When I needed help with my master’s project, the Mensans offered themselves as research subjects, and when I got my MA, they came to my graduation party. Many of my friends have met their significant others through Mensa. The organization itself has so many opportunities, but the members are what make it great. So even after I started meeting more people in my new town, I stayed with Mensa.

    Do I have friends not in Mensa? Absolutely. Do I assume I’m smarter than they are? No, and even if I were, that wouldn’t mean I couldn’t learn from them. My involvement in Mensa is no different to me than my involvement in my hiking group, writer’s groups, or volunteer organizations.

    Many Mensans refuse to tell anybody of their membership because they don’t want to deal with prejudice. You could have a long-time friend, neighbor, or co-worker in Mensa and not know it.

    It’s true that the bar hasn’t been set super-high. If you score in the top 2% of a nationally normed IQ test – that’s only the top 1 out of 50 – you qualify. You could join based on a score from an approved test you took in the past, or you could contact the group in your area and request to take the test. My group is giving a test on April 25. For additional information, see the American Mensa website If you join, look me up at the Annual Gathering in Pittsburgh this summer and I’ll introduce you around.

  19. Ask a Manager*

    Come on, it’s not about being intimidated. The qualifications for Mensa aren’t even that high — most smart people qualify; anyone who did well on their SATs qualifies. (I know this because years ago, I was really amused to see that I could get a Mensa credit card and entertained myself with the idea of pulling it out ostentiously on dates and so forth. But I didn’t, obviously, because that’s ridiculous.)

    Anyway, it’s that it’s obnoxious. A society for smart people who feel the need to have someone certify their intelligence? Blech. It’s arrogant, but in a really naive way because I don’t think it’s something that impresses others — it doesn’t say “I’m smart” but rather “I’m obnoxious.”

  20. Anonymous*

    “Lemme see if I have this right. I’m ok with listing my GPA on my resume, I’m ok with listing the ‘outstanding student award’ I received in grad school, listing my exclusive professional honor society membership there is fine, as is listing my professional license, as is listing every other community involvement or publication. But if I list Mensa, that makes me bad because now it sounds like I might be smart.”

    Nope. It makes you [sound] bad because you are part of an organization that includes or excludes people only on the basis of IQ. Knowledge, intellectual curiosity, hard work, achievement of all the things you’ve listed above and more, anything you personally have done — none of it matters to Mensa if you weren’t born/raised with a high enough IQ.

    Alternately, lack of any or all of these things, but a high IQ, and you’re in!

  21. Tabby*

    I’d just like to throw my two cents in. I’ve had my Mensa membership on my resume for years, and I’ve found that it prompts the question “oh, you’re in Mensa eh?” every time. I usually note that yes, it doesn’t mean I’m super smart, but it does mean that I learn quickly. Most people are impressed by it. I’ll never know who isn’t though, because they probably aren’t calling me in for an interview ;)

  22. Anonymous*

    I wonder how much this is in fact about your own ability to select a good candidate. You say that intelligence comes accross and that a good interviewer will see it anyway, but have you ever found yourself thinking “how dumb is this person?” just before learning he is a Mensa member? So you are really annoyed because you want to keep arbitrary power of judgement over who is intelligent or not. This is why many HR people do not like standardized recruitment tests with automated scoring, even when they make the questions – this makes them feel useless, and when those are implemented, it is very often becaue the upper management forced the issue.

    It is very common with person who tried the test and passed to think the qualifications are not that high, but this test is calibrated to select only 2% of the general population. It is just survivor bias.

    HR people very often think that they can understand who a perso is in a few interviews, which in my opinion is quite obnoxious in itself. There are many components to intelligence as it is measured by IQ and other standard intelligence tests. What comes accross is social ability rather than intelligence, and even though nowadays teamwork is all the buzzword, most teams will integrate very well shy people who do their part, even if they do not care to speak about football.

  23. Anonymous*

    “Nope. It makes you [sound] bad because you are part of an organization that includes or excludes people only on the basis of IQ. Knowledge, intellectual curiosity, hard work, achievement of all the things you’ve listed above and more, anything you personally have done — none of it matters to Mensa if you weren’t born/raised with a high enough IQ. “

    And if someone say, belongs to a club for people who have run a marathon? Not everyone can do that, no matter how much hard work they put in. Some people just haven’t got the natural ability. Or a club for people who are unusually tall. Or a club for people who attended a certain prestigious college or private school, or a sports team that requires a strenuous tryout, or a choir that takes only the very best singers. All those things are “exclusive” because they have membership requirements that many people don’t meet, and that many people can never hope to meet, no matter how hard they work, no matter how much they want it. (You can work all you want at becoming a great singer or a great swimmer, but some people just don’t have the natural talent for it, and never will.) Do you really believe that someone “sounds bad” if they mention that they belong to groups of that sort? Since they accept people based not on their “Knowledge, intellectual curiosity, hard work, achievement” but based on something as arbitrary as, say, having gone to a certain prep school, or being born with certain gifts?

    Actually, I do have to wonder how you’re defining IQ. If it’s something you can be “raised” with, then it must be something you can acquire. Therefore, it’s something that anyone could acquire, if they wanted to, and thus the group is not exclusive. Or are you defining it as an inborn talent, something, like a certain high level of athletic or musical ability, which some people are born with and then hone over their lifetimes? In that case, there’s really no difference between joining Mensa and joining a club for people who learn languages easily, or who run ultramarathons.

    People join those groups- people join our group- because they have a desire to be around people with whom they have a certain level of common ground. It doesn’t mean those people are our only friends, or that we are disdainful of non-members. It’s simply another avenue for meeting people with whom we have something in common.

    The original poster, and some commenters, have mentioned how easy it is to join Mensa. Well, come on and do it. Check out our list of test scores, and come join us. Or, just come to one of our public events. Come see what we are REALLY all about. We’d love ot have you. Then you’ll know who and what we really are, and why some of the comments that have been made about us are so very inaccurate.

  24. class-factotum*

    a high IQ indicates an ability to work in many different areas.No. It doesn’t. Or, better said, it might be necessary but not sufficient and certainly shouldn’t be taken as a proxy for “will be a great employee.”

    My husband could probably be in Mensa — he went to college when he was 16 and graduated summa and Phi Beta Kappa. I think he got a 1560 on his SAT and that was when a high score meant something.

    But bless his heart, he would be horrible in sales or management or anything where he would be required to work on or lead a team. His intelligence does make him a great problem solver and an excellent engineer, but it does not give him people skills, which are more important than raw intelligence for many jobs. Who cares if you’re brilliant if you tick off everyone around you?

    I’d rather have someone who is just average intelligence but a hard worker and a great team player. Most business problems are not that complicated on paper. The hard part is getting people to implement the solutions — and that takes people skills, not brains.

    (He doesn’t necessarily tick people off, but he has absolutely no patience for anyone who is not as smart or as much of a perfectionist as he is.)

  25. Anonymous*

    1. It seems from this page that HR managers say that they would not like a candidate with a Mensa credential on his/her resume.

    This might smack of discrimination (or stupidity? ignorance?), but it is a helpful fact, which Mensans might want to keep in mind.
    2. I have a friend who said it would be a good idea to remove Mensa from my resume, since it smacked of ignorance. Given that he was 20 years older than me and had far more professional experience than I did, I followed his suggestion.

    Later, when I found out that he had a GMAT score of 730 (97 percentile), I advised him to apply for Mensa membership and he got in.

    Today, I have not seen his resume, but his tagline in his LinkedIn profile is GMAT 730, Mensa member.

    Interesting how he changed his stance as soon as he realized that he too could be a Mensan.

  26. Anonymous*


    Oh, by the way, I’m an international student here in the US. One of my European friends mentioned that Mensa is not viewed well in the US, but in Europe it is definitely taken as a sign of intelligence, and is a positive on the resume.

    So I suppose there is a cultural reason behind this as well. I am definitely not an expert on this, and my understanding might be limited (and English is not my first language, so please let me know if I do not make my point clearly enough), but when Europeans first came to the US, they saw it as a way to escape the class barriers and feudal societies of traditional Europe.

    Would this explain the disdain for anything that appears to have been achieved through birth, as opposed to what one may achieve through one’s sweat and blood?


  27. Anonymous*

    2. I have a friend who said it would be a good idea to remove Mensa from my resume, since it smacked of ignorance.

    I meant arrogance! Sorry.


  28. Just another HR lady*

    I would agree, it depends on the job. Obviously AAM’s candidate should have left it off since even she/he recognized that it had no relevance to the job they were applying for. I think it’s fine to list it under Professional Associations if you have that section on your resume, but not as a qualification to do a job?

  29. Anonymous*

    I think it’s very sad that Ask a Manager is letting your personal prejudices interfere in your job. As recruiters and/or hiring managers, it is our responsibility to set aside as many prejudices as we can and to make decisions based on what the resume says and not letting our own positive or negative personal experience sway it. To you, Mensa is just a proof of IQ, but to others it’s much more than that – it’s a club, it’s leadership experience, etc.

    Granted, it’s not possible to leave all prejudices at the door, but you certainly shouldn’t be encouraging on your blog to have other people participate in your own prejudice. You are basically saying to other HR professionals or hiring managers that it’s ok to make broad sweeping assumptions about someone from their activities. That’s like it’s ok if someone feels that minorities and women are given too many advantages in today’s workplace and refuses to interview anyone who indicates a membership in a Society of Women’s Businesspeople or Society of Minority Businesspeople, because he thinks it means that they support making white men “inferior” in the workplace. Or the person who has an issue with “jocks” growing up and thinks that anyone with a lot of sports listed in activities must be a meathead and refuses to interview them because of that assumption.

    I’m sure that these types of assumptions are made by hiring managers all the time. That doesn’t make it right and it certainly shouldn’t be condoned. There are many things that may be controversial in a candidate’s history: someone might be anti-military and not like to see military history, or very liberal and not like to see that someone worked for a Republican congressman. But just because there might be some small-minded people out there, that doesn’t mean you should necessarily leave something off your resume. Sometimes it can help the CANDIDATE screen out the hiring managers that they should never work for.

    As I said in an earlier post, I see people list their GMAT scores (which is simply proof of intelligence), as well as Mensa membership. These people are from the top business schools – and if you know anything about B-school candidates, it’s that their resumes have been reviewed and picked apart with a fine tooth comb. The schools have figured out what you include and what you don’t. And if they’re encouraging students to put these types of credentials on their resumes, then it must be that more hiring managers think it’s a benefit than think it’s a detractor.

  30. Henning Makholm*

    Three (no, four) things –

    1. Being very intelligent is not an achievement; it is a gift. Achievements are about what you do with the gift.

    2. Mensa is not even close to an even sample of the top 2%. There’s a huge amount of self-selection involved. Mensans who brandish their membership in public are doubly self-selected. There’s got to be a nontrivial correlation with “being obnoxiously vain”. Yes, you’re supposed to toot your own horn in an application, but bragging about a non-achievement (see 1, above) will still come of strangely.

    3. People who are in the top 2% (and are not obnoxiously vain) generally prefer to surround themselves with other smart people. Therefore, they would prefer to work in places where being in the top 2% of the general population is no big deal — somewhere where announcing their Mansanity would not get them known as “the smart one” but merely “the one who cared enough about his IQ score to join Mensa”. This, too, should inform the intelligently self-interested Mensan’s choice of whether to mention it in an application. Your dream job is the place where it doesn’t help you.

    4. Rejecting an applicant solely because they list a Member membership is, of course, insane. That doesn’t mean it’s not cumulative evidence about whether they fit into the company culture.

  31. Anonymous*

    Mensa test: 2 hours
    Annual dues: $59
    Ability to claim Mensa membership: *priceless*

    Esp priceless for those of us that passed the M test and think the alliance is a farce. I mean, really, how smart is it to pay dues (every year for the rest of your life), to claim you once passed a test?

  32. Charles*

    Wow, AAM, you sure whacked a hornet’s nest with this post!

    I can see where you are coming from. Regardless of what Mensa actually is, I would think “smart” people would know how others perceive such a “tooting of one’s own horn” in the manner in which the orignal letter writer did.

    On the other hand, I really don’t blame her for trying what she did – she took what she knew would be seen as a weakness in your eyes and tried to show you that she actually had a strength to help overcome that weakness – Is that not a good thing to do? Should I not try to do that when I interview or write cover letters for jobs?I also agree with the comments that it would be okay to list Mensa as a professional organization under such a listing on one’s resume and any hiring manager who would then make comments/decisions against such a listing is biased, and ignorantly so.

    On a final note, I certainly hope that I never apply for a job in your organziation as I would not want one little slip-up to be blown so out of proportion and posted on the web.

    While it is one thing for you to take an Ask-The Manager letter and post it on the web. I think it is totally different to take a letter or resume or whatever from a job candidate and post it to the web (even without mentioning a name).

    If I write to a blogger I would assume that my letter is fair game to make into a blog posting. However, if I apply for a job I do not make that assumption. What I had always assumed is that my candidacy for a job would be handled in confidence and treated professionally. But, I guess that I was wrong.

  33. Office Humorist*

    Does this mean I should take “Can solve a Rubiks cube” off my resume?

    The point of your resume is to get an interview, and hopefully your achievements / experience are good enough to do that; whether or not you put Mensa shouldn’t matter in the long run. (I say shouldn’t because that doesn’t mean that it won’t–according to some people they would dismiss the resume with it, according to others they would use it as an interesting talking point in an interview.)

  34. Wally Bock*

    My problem is that I don’t see how Mensa is relevant. To be a member you have to do two things. You have to want to be a member. And you have to pass the qualifications test.

    OK. You do that. What does that tell me about you? It says that you’re smart as measured by one test. And it tells me that you want to belong to a group of others who have nothing in common except the fact that they’re smart. I don’t see how that relates to job qualifications.

  35. Dan McCarthy*

    After reading 33 comments, I’m still inclined to agree with AAM’s advice. Yes, it’s OK to be proud of your accomplishments, and the Mensas all make compelling points. But if your objective is to get hired, then leave it off the resume! You’re most likely going to turn-off the majority of resume screeners and hiring managers for most positions. And that goes for SAT, GMAT, and IQ scores as well. Would you rather be right, or get hired?

  36. Anonymous*

    Jack: Your English is completely clear, do not worry about that. :) You guessed correctly: a big part of American cultural identity is that people “earn” what they have in life by perseverance and hard work, and anyone who wants privilege can get it if they work at it. Americans find the idea that there are just some things you can’t “earn” to be insulting.

  37. Anonymous*

    Resume issue aside, many of the comments here reflect the blatant bias in our society against Mensans. The view seems to be that if we choose to join Mensa, it must mean that we are conceited blowhards who have to join a club to prove that we are smart. And my husband continues to wonder why I don’t like to mention my membership… the fact of the matter is that is provides us a multitude of opportunities, some of which Millicent has already listed. For myself, I sometimes just find it difficult to relate to people, and Mensa is a place where I know I won’t have that problem. Call that feeling arrogant if you will, but it’s a reality for me. I do list my membership on my resume under Professional Associations, and frankly, as others have mentioned already, if that is enough to keep me from getting an interview, then I probably don’t want to work there, anyway. Discrimination is a bad thing, in any form. But AAM’s assertion that it will “come out in the interview” anyway is absurd. A resume is for getting an interview. Putting everything on it to enhance your chances of getting that interview is a necessity, in my opinion, as long as you keep it all honest of course. Just call me sick of the prejudice in our society.

  38. Anonymous*

    “It’s the choosing to join that says something that some hiring managers find strange.”

    And again, this type of statement just shows your complete prejudice against people who do. If you are speaking as a hiring manager who feels it inappropriate to list membership on your resume, you would say “It’s the choosing to list it that says something that some hiring managers find strange.” You have derogatory beliefs about people who choose to join Mensa, not just list it on their resume. This is the equivalent of my saying that I find something strange about people who choose to attend weekly church services. Or let’s keep it a little more equivalent, as you obviously are passing judgment on how I choose to spend my yearly dues, so what if I said I found people who choose to go drinking at bars to be really strange. Or people who decide to join a softball team are just not the sort of people that I want to associate with. It makes just as much sense as your views. If you are against putting it on a resume, fine, I don’t agree, but whatever. Your statements are denigrating those who choose to join, which I find offensive and irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

  39. Anonymous*

    “Many smart people who would qualify for Mensa choose not to join; I’m sure I’m far from the only one. It’s the choosing to join that says something that some hiring managers find strange.”

    I’m in school to become a teacher. I asked several teachers I know if they thought I should put my Mensa membership on my resume, and every one of them said yes. It depends on the field, as well as the company or organization. Given that some people react well to it, and some people react poorly, your applicant could not have known, without prior knowledge of your personal biases, how you would react. Sounds like she knew her odds of getting the job were slipping, and she took a shot in the dark. Doesn’t seem to have hurt her, actually, since it sounds like she wasn’t going to get the job, anyway. Besides, “some” hiring managers will find anythign strange- being president of your beer brewers’ club (must be a drunk!) or chair of a religious education committee (bible thumper!) You choose theh things you think best represent who you are and what you bring to the job, and you present them. Sometmes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

    I’m not sure what’s strange about choosing to join. It’s a social club, with 50,000 members in the US alone. I regularly attend fun and interesting events that draw anywhere from 10-60 people, as well as week-long annual conferences that draw over a thousand people. I’ve met lots of friends, and had opportunities to do things I never would have done otherwise. What’s so strange about that? People who join, or come to a few events because they are thinking of joining, and don’t like the group just don’t come back. People who like the group and feel we have something to offer them become active members. I’m not sure why anyone would have a negative attitude toward that.

  40. Ask a Manager*

    Hiring is always about being discriminating — making decisions based on available information about who is and isn’t the right fit for the job and the organization.

    Many smart people who would qualify for Mensa choose not to join. It’s the choosing to join that says something that some hiring managers find strange.

  41. Anonymous*

    Oh, by the way, I attended my first Mensa meet-up yesterday, and met Mensans for the first time.

    Horror of horrors! They turned out to be regular Joes and Janes! I thought they would be weirdos with zero social skills, proud and arrogant, and too lost in themselves.

    But they turned out to be normal people. Isn’t that strange – Mensans were normal people.



  42. Ask a Manager*

    Hiring managers definitely do bring their own personal biases, and I think it’s worth knowing that this one isn’t uncommon. Maybe I’m wrong about this one — you guys definitely have me rethinking it although I’m not sure where I’m ultimately going to end up coming down on it.

    You’re making me think about it though.

  43. Anonymous*

    And I’m about to spend this weekend in Cincinnati with a group of about 250 Mensans playing and evaluating board games. One of the highlights of my year. Incidentally, it wasn’t even my choice to join Mensa initially – I was struggling in school and my parents had me tested and put me together with a well-respected psychologist in that area who deal with gifted children, and we found a solution. In the process, they had me join Mensa, since she was with them, and that was when I was about 15. Since then, I’ve just found that it’s nice to have that group of people who I know I can turn to when I need to. I’ve found fun activities to participate in, even hosted some of my own. If someone wants to judge me because I choose to belong to a group where I can find social solace, that is, as my dad used to say, a personal problem. If I was only really in Mensa, and putting it on my resume to flaunt it, I would’ve joined Triple Nine when I found out I qualified, and I’d be listing that one, too. There is nothing in that group for me, though, not enough people to make it worth the dues, and I’d never join just to put it on my resume or to tell everyone I’m a member. I’m sure there are some people out there who do, but I don’t think that it is the majority. Yet it seems to be the prevailing belief amongst those who don’t know any better that we are nothing but a group of eggheads who like to stand around comparing IQ scores and proving to each other how smart we are. You should check out the calendar of one of the larger local groups and see that it could not be further from the truth.

  44. T W*

    Despite the spirited defense of Mensa by Anonymous, I’m still siding with AAM here.

    First, as has been mentioned, even if one concedes that AAM’s perception of Mensans listing their membership on a resume as arrogant is an unfounded bias (and I don’t make that concession), it’s one you can reasonably expect many hiring managers to make. So if you want to play the martyr for Mensa, by all means, eliminate yourself for others who want the job too.

    Second, and more importantly, the entire argument is silly to begin with because for anyone living up to their abilities, listing your Mensa membership will be REDUNDANT. If you’re that smart, chances are you’ve graduated from a top school, or received noteworthy recognition in prior employment, or pioneered programs you can point to as evidence of your creativity.

    If, on the other hand, all you have is the title, your attempts to defend it will ultimately come off as defensive and off-putting as Anonymous’s personal attacks of bias have appeared here.

  45. class-factotum*

    There is a big difference between listing your Mensa membership along with other memberships and non-work activities (although I agree with the commenters who write that you should only list such things if you actually do something there, like run the organization or put out the newsletter) and saying, “[you’re] sure [you] could do the job well anyway [because] ‘(I am a member of MENSA)'”

    That is the off-putting part: the declaration that of course you are capable of doing something you have not done before just because you are a member of Mensa. Maybe it’s true, but find a better way to explain it, something like, “I have not used this program, but in my previous job, we got new software and I was the one who went through the on-line tutorial and then taught the five other people in my department how to use it.”

  46. Anonymous*

    It’s very nice of all you Mensans to invite me to join and see what you’re really like, but I can’t. My IQ is not high enough.

    Oh well, I guess you’ll all miss out on what I’m really like :)

  47. bob*

    “Second, and more importantly, the entire argument is silly to begin with because for anyone living up to their abilities, listing your Mensa membership will be REDUNDANT. If you’re that smart, chances are you’ve graduated from a top school, or received noteworthy recognition in prior employment, or pioneered programs you can point to as evidence of your creativity.”In my case and most people, it should not be redundant, but a ‘shorthand’ way to communicate a collection of ideas. Just as ‘masters degree’ communicates … 4500 hours of … in a short hand way. Of course there is a lot of valid debate as to what ‘member of Mensa’ represents, but I do believe that communicating ‘smarter then average as validated by a 3rd party’ has value for a variety positions. Just as ‘studied for years on a focused subject’ or ‘managed a group responsible for $1 million revenue with P/L responsibilities’ does. It is all about painting parts of a picture. Can you paint enough of a picture of yourself to get invited to an interview for someone to want to learn more about you and how you could fit into an organization?

  48. Anonymous*

    Wow, I find it interesting that people hold such animosity toward members of a club that, among other things, provide community outreach and programs geared toward getting more kids to go to college. Mensa is not about saying anyone is smarter than anyone else. It is a group of like-minded individuals who socialize AND are involved in the community. There is no exclusion for sex, race, or religion. There are no hate groups in Mensa. It has one requirement to join. Many clubs or guilds have requirements. Why are you not lambasting them all?

    If I found out the hiring manager for my firm was refusing to interview candidates solely on the basis of a Mensa membership mentioned on a resume, I would have to question the manager’s motives. A high I.Q. does not guarantee a hard worker, but it does indicate the person can learn new things quickly, likely to learn from their mistakes faster, and are likely to be able to think abstractly – which is something that hiring manager does not seem to be able to do.

    A high I.Q. doesn’t guarantee someone will go to an Ivy League school (many people in the Ivy League do not have higher than an average I.Q.), nor does it mean the person even graduated from high school. Your I.Q. does not define you, just like your age doesn’t define you. Or your gender, or your marital status, or your eye color, etc. It is you as a whole that defines you – not any one part of you.

  49. Anonymous*

    Dear "Ask a Manager"
    First of all, Mensa has updated the list of test they accept for membership… SAT's are no longer on there. And it isn't and never was easy to join.

    You claim that many people could be in Mensa but choose not to. This is pure rubbish. Many people think they're smart (yourself included), yes. But they're simply not comfortable enough with their intelligence to take the Mensa acceptance test (yourself included).

    Here's what I mean: it's one thing to prance around thinking you're the smartest fella around, but it's a completely different thing to think you're smart, to take the Mensa test and to be CONTENT with the results (positive or not).

    Most of these people who "could be" in Mensa but "choose" not to take the admittance test are deathly afraid of the results coming back negative. It takes great comfort in one's intelligence to simply take the test… a comfort you and your friends seem to lack, Ask a Manager.

    Hey, I have an idea. Why don't you, Ask a Manager, go take the Mensa Admittance test, get into Mensa, and then don't tell anyone about it? Don't like that idea? Here's another: stop trying to discredit an establishment (one you know very little about) just because it threatens you.


  50. Anonymous*

    I became a member recently. I thought about putting it on my resume myself. Then I watched the video clip referenced below. Then I searched for other members on LinkedIn. I decided not to, because I determined that the managers who would likely to interview me at companies I want to join would not be necessarily looking for people that I saw on the video clip or LinkedIn. I think it's just important to remember that the popular perception of the organization includes more than very high intelligence.

  51. Millicent*

    As to the anonymous 6/17 post . . . I guess it takes all kinds. I think what that poster was trying to say (regretfully in a mean-spirited way) is that a lot of people who say they're in Mensa are lying. There's a membership roster that any of us can check, although the quickest way for us to tell is if they say they've "been invited" to join. That isn't how it works; people need to apply.

    Also lying are a LOT of people who say their test scores are high enough, but they opt not to join. And even if they're being truthful, that's just as arrogant as bragging about being a member.

    And then there are the people are really ARE in Mensa . . . but have never been to a meeting. They joined for bragging rights to the membership card. Frankly, the rest of us can't figure out what to do with them either, but we wish they'd stow their membership card in a dresser drawer somewhere and stop bringing down Mensa's reputation.

    The people in Mensa who I know are (generally) extremely nice people. I'm talking, the best of the nice. :-) Obviously, these aren't the ones who only wanted the membership card; they're the ones who go to meetings and events. And most of the people I know would never tell you of their Mensa affiliation because they're afraid of intimidating you.

    As for my own membership status, it's not a secret but it's not something I broadcast in my personal life. My own learning curve was that a lot of people had thought I was one of the nicest people they've ever met . . . until they learned I was in Mensa. And then, with no additional changes, I was suddenly seen as a condescending know-it-all. Live and learn. I'm more guarded with that piece of information now.

    What stopped me on the initial post was the declaration that a resume with Mensa on it should automatically go to file 13. It shouldn't. That's prejudism, plain and simple. Go on and see what their credentials for the position are. But if they aren't qualified or if they're somebody who you know you could never work with, that's life.

    I recently lost my job, and am considering a variety of career aveunes. I'd held three offices in Mensa and have been published in their publications, but I don't know whether I'll include these credentials on my vitae or not.

    I guess the good thing about including it would be that my next boss would know upfront. Given that many of my vacations are spent at Mensa gatherings, I have difficulty not replying honestly when someone asks what organization it is that I belong to. If the management knew upfront, at least I wouldn't have to tiptoe around their insecurities.

  52. Ask a Manager*

    Thanks for weighing in, Millicent. The original post did not say that a resume with Mensa on it should be automatically thrown away. See above; the post doesn't say that. It says that the way the candidate worked in the mention was obnoxious, and it was.

    And finally, could we stop assuming that people who object to mentions of Mensa in the job application process are doing so out of "insecurities"? People aren't lying when we say it just comes across to some as obnoxious. I understand that some of you disagree with that assessment; that's your prerogative, and I respect that you feel differently. And you should in turn offer the same respect back and not accuse people of just being insecure.

  53. Anonymous*

    sourgraping…. do not post your mensa membership if your applying for a regular job. mensa membership boosts your credentials but it is not EVERYTHING. those who say that being a member of mensa is not a big deal… well…. SOURGRAPING! heheh

    it is a boost, but its not everything.

    once agian, IQ is the analyzation skills of a person and not knowledge. in our everyday lives, that is very very important. so if you have a sharper mind, you have the edge.

  54. Anonymous*

    Mentioning my Mensa membership on my resume helped me get the job I've held for the last couple years. I interviewed but was on another freelance project for a few months. When that gig ended, I contacted the company and my future boss specifically brought it up; "oh, you were the guy in Mensa, right?"

    I think it helped me because my current field, web development, is one where education is largely irrelevant. It's more important to be able to pick up a new programming language quickly than to have N years of training. Many people I work with have degrees in fields unrelated to web dev (I wasted my college years studying marketing) and a few (like my boss) quit school altogether and now run 20 person teams in a larger organization.

  55. John*

    There are 2 commonalities among those who refuse to acknowledge that a high IQ is highly relevant to EVERY position, including hamburger flipper at a fast food joint: (1) Low IQ 2) Low self esteem.

    In every company at which I have worked, the most intelligent people were almost without exception the most valuable contributors. They innovate and they problem solve better than their peers.

    And yes, they will learn the job and become better at it than their slightly more experienced peers, who offer only mediocre intelligence.

  56. Anonymous*

    The crude truth is that IQ tests scare people, because they are different from other tests. For example, you can get a good score on SAT test if you prepare for it, and this is the reason why it is NOT valid to join Mensa. But IQ test is different, the IQ score gives you a lifelong mark, it tells you if you are BORN intelligent or not, it's something related to your DNA, not to your will or motivation.

    Everybody is afraid to take the IQ test and get a bad score, it's like being considered ugly by women, it makes people frustrated.

    So maybe, to be fair, AAM is not completely wrong: having a high IQ means being much smarter than those HR managers who will see your cv (intelligent people don't pursue a career in HR…), it makes them envious and frustrated. So maybe they won't choose you.

  57. phoodie*

    Just to weigh in as a Mensan and a hiring manager, I have my membership listed on my resume under community and professional affiliations (in the context that I serve on the executive committee for my local chapter) It doesn't mean I am more qualified than anyone else, or better than anyone, it's just a data point. When I see it on resumes, it's almost always in reference to leadership roles held or service projects, and nearly always has a positive connotation. I would advise Mensans to list their membership on the resume, certainly ahead of listing interests and hobbies.

  58. Anonymous*

    I took the Mensa test, qualified and joined. Part of the reason for doing this was to put that fact on any future resume. If a manager finds it a negative, it's good to get that out of the way in the first place. Some managers like creative problem solvers in their organization, some can't trust others and must direct all actions below them.

  59. Will*

    Mensa is a scam, after a few months they sent me a credit card application. If your IQ is over 13? why would you be interested in a credit card.

    Needless to say I have never mentioned my mensa membership to anyone I was trying to impress. I did tell my mommy, she was proud of me!

  60. Anonymous*

    A member of Mensa wrote: "It's a social/ networking organization … two large parties per month … speakers presenting on a diverse range of topics, not to mention free food and beer.

    Yea! Free food and beer? That should attract SO many intellectuals!

    It looks like Mensa is for people who score 96 or higher. 90- 109 means really is that the person is NORMAL not a Retard. That is all.

    El Ilustrado

  61. Anonymous*

    It's not a scam, a scam is making a windfall by deception. There is not the number of members, or profit per member for a scam. The new member package did have a credit card offer among several other things. Many organizations including football teams have made license deals to have their logo on credit cards. So a credit card offering isn't a red letter. And the person most impressed was my grandson in college.

  62. Anonymous*

    I recently joined Mensa and I've been wrestling with whether to update the resume my boss keeps on file to include my membership. I worry, as many have suggested, that it may come across as arrogance. My other concern is that it may flag me as a dramatic underachiever. If I'm so darn smart, why am I working in a mid-level position at someone else's company? On the other hand, I've considered that a mention of my Mensa membership might add to my credibility as a person whose thoughts are worth very serious consideration. Reading through this whole string has done nothing to make my decision any clearer. I think the ultimate answer, as with so many questions, is that it all depends on the specific situation and the intended outcome.

  63. Anonymous*

    It seems clear that there are plenty of smart competent hiring authorities who still think that listing Mensa is a questionable thing to do, and plenty who don't. Attacking either side for being pompous or threatened is silly. People can disagree on this issue without having to be labeled negatively.

  64. Anonymous*

    A resume is intended to gauge your potential for successfully preforming a said job. If being a member of a club that authoritatively decides that you are among the top 2.2% of the most cognitively adaptive humans on earth doesn't qualify you for that job, then nothing will. In a essence, if you are a member of MENSA then that should be the only thing on your resume. But don't take my advice…I never go to the meetings.

  65. Anonymous*

    I agree with the 10/13 anonymous; some of the more recent posts are fairly hostile and uninformed. :)

    After reading all the comments thus far my opinion is basically unchanged. I do not think I would put Mensa membership on a resume unless I held office or was actively involved in some other way. I would hope that my other achievements and qualifications would be enough to warrant an interview. I would mention it in the interview if activities outside of work were mentioned, but I wouldn't wear it as a badge.

    In an ideal world it would be there, but it is my view that the benefits don't outweigh the risks. I could be mistaken, but I believe the chances of the interviewer having a negative view of such organizations (subconscious or not) is higher than him/her having a positive view. It is about putting yourself forward in the best possible light; something with this much controversy should probably be avoided–at least on first contact.

    This is of course referring to resumes designed to get a job outside of the academic world. I am interested to know what some peoples' views are on putting in on a c.v.

    I am not a member, but I am considering taking the test before I apply for graduate school. I think I would put it a grad school app.


  66. Anonymous*

    I just found I out I qualify for Mensa membership based on my GMAT score (the one I took 9 years ago :)). I know I am smart, but never thought I'd qualify for Mensa.
    As far as my experience with hiring managers goes: I went to two job interviews in the past two months and the feedback from both was 'she is very very smart'.
    I didn't need a Mensa stamp on my resume to show that, but if I have it, I wouldn't hesitate to disclose it. Those who would judge me against it, are absolutely not the ones I want to work with.
    I have worked with bosses of average intelligence but 'know it all attitude' like the OP and it is an experience I'd like to avoid at all costs.
    PS I turned down both offers.

    PPS If I were a hiring manager, the first thing I'd look for is high IQ, the second – high GPA. The one shows intelligence, the other shows diligence and the ability to work consistenly well over long periods of time.

    PPPS You can tell Mensa vs non-Mensa posters just by seeing the way the express them self – fluent, beautiful logic…

  67. Anonymous*

    I am a member of Mensa and I put it on my CV. A lot of people here seem to be forgetting the important step of getting to the interview itself which relies on your CV. The way in which I chose to disclose my membership was at the end of a sentence saying that I am a good problem solver and capable of thinking quickly and clearly in tough situations. I could have just put the sentence itself but I think that is the same as everyone else does with anything in their CV. I have seen many people CV's where they state many things without qualification such as being well organised etc. It's all well and good to just state something but when you have something to back it up why not put it in?
    In response to the poster who said it is obnoxious to join Mensa I would just like to reply that I joined as a test to myself to see if I could do it. If it is obnoxious to test your capabilities then I must confess to being guilty as charged along with every other member of the human race with any ambition.

  68. Anonymous*

    Short of having psychic abilities to determine how a particular recruiter feels about Mensa, I still have no idea whether it is a good idea to post it on a resume. I am, however, glad that the organization exists as just one more social opportunity that clearly has and will predictably continue to be beneficial to many human beings. This subject and many related subjects are clearly emotionally-charged, but I think we all have the same needs: We all want to succeed, we all want to make good decisions, we all want to be fairly evaluated, we all want to respected for everything including our intelligence, and, yes, we are ALL insecure and brag a little. Maybe the following will help us to laugh about the misconceptions about IQ together. In kindergarten, due to being tested as having a pretty high IQ (150), I was labeled as "gifted" and often pulled out of class and asked to play with objects and such. At age 4 I had no model for what this meant, but I had a pretty good model for what "special" meant in 1970's 'eduspeak'. I did not want to make my parents feel sad that I had figured out that I had a severe 'learning disability', so I decided not to tell them for a few months that I had 'figured it out'. Genius, huh? 'Now for something a little darker, … if you want a better predictor of someone's future professional success, many researchers will suggest you examine the families' socioeconomic background. Maybe we should put that on a resume if it bodes well for us!

  69. Anonymous*

    I'm not a member of Mensa, but I have wondered on-and-off for years whether I should join and, if so, whether I should put it on my resume.

    I'm an attorney, graduated with honors from a top law school, and was an editor on the law review. It's very difficult to get into the law school I went to without an LSAT score that qualfies for Mensa. However, I didn't know that LSAT could even be used for Mensa until a few days ago, and I assume most attorneys don't know either. Most of them have heard of Mensa.

    The degree to which IQ generally or Mensa membership more specifically is relevant to a job certainly varies based on the tasks involved. There are jobs where a person with a 100 IQ and a great personality will easily out-perform one with a 145 IQ and a strongly introverted personality.

    Some of the comments above mentioned the possibility that the discomfort about mentioning and IQ or Mensa membership comes from the fact that it’s a natural characteristic rather than an achievement or earned credential. I think that’s probably a big part of it. I also think that’s a ridiculous reason to disfavor an applicant because they mention Mensa, at least if the job tasks are related to intelligence. Some people above were trying to draw the connection to other physical characteristics but didn’t quite draw it in. The best analogy I can think of is this: you’re in charge of hiring a back-up center for the local NBA team. You’re interested in a lot of things about each prospect: mental acuity, training, performance history, age, athleticism, etc.

    At this point in the game, let’s say (however unrealistically) that you have to base your decisions about which candidates to meet in person on their resume alone. Let’s also say that there is a well-known organization, the Thin Air Club, that only admits members if they are taller than 98% of the population, but only about 50,000 of the eligible 6 million people in the USA are members. As everyone knows, there is one criterion for the position of NBA center that is non-negotiable: height. You have to be very tall.

    There’s nothing you can do to make yourself taller, and there’s nothing you did right in your lifetime that made you tall, nothing you did wrong to make yourself less-than-tall. You just are the height you are. Membership in the Thin Air Club might be mostly irrelevant to the vast majority of jobs out there, but it’s very relevant to this one. No, it doesn’t tell you anything more than that the applicant is certain to be very tall, but that fact alone is necessary for this position. But seeing it on the resume would at least tell you that that one very important criterion is met with this candidate. You can assume that other candidates are tall based on other facts, such as that they played center at this or that college, but college centers don’t have to be as tall as NBA centers.

    If this analogy has any shortcoming, it lies in the fact that you can’t mask a lack of appropriate height with preparation or a disarming personality. It’s not that hard to seem smarter than you are, especially for a short duration. And with respect to the other jobs for which membership in the Thin Air Club is irrelevant, it would still be an interesting thing to see on a resume along with other low-relevance items like the applicant’s interests.


  70. Anonymous*

    Similarly, there are jobs that can't be done, or at least can't be done well, without a high IQ. The jaded hr rep made an early comment that said, "I always make a mental note of these candidates in case we ever develop a new position that requires intense, high-level, creative riddle or brain-teaser solving." He/she was being sarcastic and probably trying to be funny (I laughed a bit myself), but the fact is that there are jobs out there that equate to intense, high-level, creative riddle or brain-teaser solving.

    That's the exact reason why a test that is 75% logic problems and 25% reading comprehension is required for admission to every law school in the USA. A high score doesn't mean you will be a good lawyer, but without a high score, you're fighting an uphill battle to say the least. There is a high correlation between the tasks involved in the profession and the aptitudes tested. Apparently there is a high correlation between LSAT scores and IQ as well, which makes sense because the LSAT is a true aptitude test, unlike the SAT, which is an achievement test.

    I guess you could say "aptitude" is the key word when talking about the relevance of IQ. You could also call it potential. It's necessary but far from sufficient for some high level jobs. And unless you capitalize on it through education and experience, its relevance is minimal.

    On the other hand, between two people with the same degrees from the same schools and substantially similar personalities, a certified high IQ (or Mensa membership, or high LSAT score, etc.) at least tells you that one of the candidates has a very high aptitude or potential. I know if I was choosing between two otherwise identical candidates, I'd prefer a 178 LSAT to a 168 (both of which would qualify for Mensa), because I would expect the 178 to be able to catch things that a 168 would miss, or think of creative solutions to a legal problem that the 168 wouldn't think of. Why? Because he proved he is better at using his brain to solve complex logic problems.

    On a side note, I wonder what AAM's opinion is of recruiters and hiring managers that use the Wonderlic test as a hiring criterion or even as a cutoff. I've heard my father-in-law talk about the test several times because his company uses it to evaluate candidates to their management training program, and my brother-in-law had to take it as part of the application process to a different company's management training program.

    I recently applied and then interviewed for a combination attorney/business analyst/tax planner position. When I got to the initial interview with the recruiter, she told me the employer was only interested in applicants who score at least a 30 on the Wonderlic test (which is essentially a short-form IQ test.) At the second interview, before I met the employer, the recruiter told me that the employer thought the test score was very important.


  71. Anonymous*

    Sure enough, during the interview he asked me my LSAT score and percentile. When I told him, he looked very pleased and very impressed. Of course, this was a guy with more letters after his name than were in his name, so it could be a special case. Given how elitist high-powered professionals with top credentials tend to be, I doubt it's atypical.

    As for the relevance of putting Mensa on my application, the contra- group here would probably say, "See? It would have been irrelevant because your intelligence came through without you having to be an asshat and putting Mensa on your resume." Well, the way it turned out, that's true. But when the recruiter called me for the first time, one of the first things she said to me was that she had been close to skipping me even for an initial interview because I didn't have enough tax/accounting background. Because I strongly emphasized the little I did have, she gave me a shot, but it was close. She could just as easily have passed over me.

    As it turns out, the employer is now talking about hiring me and paying for me to get an MBA so I'll have the necessary education to do the job well. I can't help but think my high Wonderlic and LSAT scores helped me get that far with him just as much as the name of my undergrad school, the name of my law school, my gpa, and my law review editor position. Probably more, given the fact that my training wasn't really what he was looking for–he was looking at my potential more than my accrued experience or current skill set.

    A Mensa membership on the resume might have caught enough attention on the initial pass through the resumes that I wouldn't have nearly been thrown in the "no" pile.

  72. Anonymous*

    �Some men come by the name of genius in the same way as an insect comes by the name of centipede – not because it has a hundred feet, but because most people can't count above fourteen�

    Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

  73. Savvy Bulge*

    It's all a matter of compatibility–HR recruiters are concerned that your being in the top 2% will create incompatibility in the office…since 98% of their companies' workforces will be underachievers, including the middle and executive management.

    If the job is elitist enough to inherently require a high IQ, then membership listing is unnecessary. If it's an average job with average joes, even those that require advanced degrees, then membership listing is superfluous and arrogant, if for no other reason than you won't be using those abilities; almost as if you listed proficiency in some obscure, dead language.

    I've read, not that it's accurate, that the average IQ of a recent college graduate is 115, which is average (100) with a precision of +/- 15 points. I consider "average" to be Homer Simpson-esque–that's what's coming out of college these days, who you'll be interviewing with (hopefully), and who you'll be working with and under, so your best shot at a job is to appear as homogenous as the collective, yet distinguished through practical application.

    If you're wanting to make the membership useful then network a job within the club.

  74. Josh*

    High iq does not mean ability in a job. I am a member of mensa but there are a lot of jobs that I can’t do. I know diddly about medicine or organic chem. The big problem is using mensa in place of experience. Would you rather have a mechanic of average intelligence who has worked on cars for years and has a practical understanding of your vehicle or a mensan with limited experience? I have a general understanding how a car works, but I’m smart enough to know I have no idea how to do more than general repairs to my car.

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