What Can I Do If I Think I’m Being Blackballed By An Employer?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors: I believe I’ve been blackballed by an employer. It stems from taking a test that I had to pass and I didn’t pass it. (Test taking anxiety. ) They wouldn’t let me take it again. I applied for another job with a company that is under the same contract as the manager of the first company, and they said I was not eligible for hire. Is there any course of action I can take? Or just make sure I avoid this employer?

Response: I’m sorry about your situation and I’m sure it adds to the pressure you feel about testing! Is it possible you were not eligible for hiring because you did not fit some other requirement? For example, experience, tenure, training or some other qualifier? Could your test results have been so low that it seemed test anxiety could not completely account for the results? Those are just things for you to consider, but it might help you understand what happened.

I agree that you will probably find it easier to find work outside of the company you mentioned, if the test you took and failed was some part of their certification. But, if it was because of some other issue, maybe you can find out what was lacking in your application or what was required for you to be eligible in the job for which you applied.

It is almost impossible to prove that someone has so much influence that they convince many people to refuse to hire someone. Further, even when it can be shown that someone advised someone else not to hire an applicant, there is no law against that, unless it is clear that the person is qualified in every way and their race, gender, etc., is the only reason for speaking negatively. In your situation, I think it could be argued that since you did not pass a test, there was justification for thinking you would not be a good fit  for the job or that you would not be qualified.

Whatever you do, it seems you will need to gain more confidence about taking written tests. Often people who are most anxious are those who do not feel they are solid in their knowledge of the topics. Or, they are exhausted and nervous, because they’ve been cramming and not sleeping right before the test. I’ve also found that many people make the mistake of underlining key points and studying those. But often test questions are selected from between those key points.

The best way to study is to read everything repeatedly, pausing every few paragraphs to say the concepts out loud. Then read it all again and again. You will always do better if you read everything, than if you underline and only read that the next time.

Another thing that works for areas that are hard to learn or remember, is to pretend to teach it. Write key points on a piece of paper and talk about it out loud to a pretend student, as a way to cement the knowledge.

None of that may be useful for the type of test you have to take, but there are websites that talk about test anxiety, and they may be helpful. It may also help to find someone who did well and pay them a small amount to tutor you, based on how they studied.

The bottom line though, is that you need to feel you can succeed in a place where the manager you’re concerned about isn’t involved. I hope you can find something like that, so you can be successful.

Best wishes to you! Tina Lewis Rowe, Ask the Workplace Doctors

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.