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Personality Testing For Employment 581

Posted by kdawson
from the strongly-disagree dept.
Thelasko writes "While I was in college, I had the opportunity to take an elective course in Industrial Psychology. One section of the course covered hiring practices and the validity of 'personality testing' to screen applicants (Google link for non-subscribers). The Wall Street Journal has a long article discoursing on how such tests are used in today's economy. While personality tests may be designed to uncover underlying personality traits such as honesty, critics claim that the tests instead reward cheaters." The article talks mostly about the tests' use in winnowing candidates for retail positions — deciding whom to interview. Anybody encountered them in an IT or more technical context?
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Personality Testing For Employment

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:54AM (#26428017)

    Companies that have formalized tests of personality might be opening themselves up for a discrimination lawsuit, unless there is a way to map personality type to a tangible requirement for the job. (IANAL.)

  • Re:google does (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:05AM (#26428107) Homepage Journal
    If I went for a job at google I would expect them to have my profile already. You have been visiting the following web sites...
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:17AM (#26428223)
    I too took Industrial Psychology, and some other psychology courses as well. I remember that two of the courses covered the subject of "personality testing", and nearly all the material and cases we covered criticized the use of personality testing for any kind of serious use, as being notoriously unreliable.

    For example, my professors (and our course material) taught me that some corporations still use one or another form of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), or tests derived from it, for personality testing prospective employees and so on. In the words of one professor: "This test and similar tests were thoroughly discredited over 20 years ago. It is astounding that anybody would still give them credence."

    But apparently some still do.

    Some personality tests are easy to figure out, which indeed rewards cheaters. Others use various levels of trickery to try to combat cheating (multiple, modified forms of the same question scattered throughout the test, for example), which rewards the more intelligent cheaters. And so on. Often the tests are biased culturally, and some of them still in use are so old that their wording, assumptions, and scoring are questionable today.

    In short, I would look at personality tests for pre-employment screening the same way I look at drug testing and standard polygraphs: If you are an "innocent" person, you should NEVER volunteer to do these things. They do absolutely nothing to help your situation, and all you can do is lose. Statistically, they are also biased toward false positives more than false negatives, and the odds are not in your favor. And finally, I thoroughly despise the "guilty until proven innocent" attitude that is firmly set by the use of these tests when there is no prior suspicion of wrongdoing or problems. It sends the wrong message to employees, and their families, and their children.
  • Snake oil... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alyeska (611286) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:21AM (#26428251) Homepage
    Research tests that are supposed to judge sociological phenomena, designed to be issued to mass numbers of people for data, are being sold to employers as tools to judge individuals. It simply doesn't work that way. Might as well use Astrology....
  • Inept management (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hwyhobo (1420503) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:22AM (#26428275)
    I am deeply convinced (a euphemism for "I have no proof") that most of this nonsense is driven by the fact that a lot of today's management does not understand the subject matter of what they manage; therefore, they cannot appropriately interview candidates. Instead, they engage in meaningless "personality tests" and other psychobabble, which is mostly what they learn during ever-popular "management" (read, "I-have-no-aptitude-for-science") studies.
  • No... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:27AM (#26428317)
    we DON'T all know what that means. "Making out" as a phrase is terminally vague, and could mean many different things to many different people. That is precisely why these tests are so worthless: they presume to test things based on information that is not just imperfect, but horribly distorted as well.

    "I got the job, though I quit seven months later because this job was had began to run my life, something I loathed with a passion."

    Hint: I have heard that Google is "the exception that proves the rule", but in general, if a company asked me to take a personality test prior to employment, I would walk out the door and not come back. Not because I have anything to hide, but because I know just how much bullshit these tests really are. If you are a good person, you should never take one, because unless it is one of those awesomely simple-minded tests, it can only make you look worse than if you had not taken one in the first place.
  • by eof (33820) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:31AM (#26428345)
    I see this along the same lines as the lookign down on not dressing up for an interview: an excellent early warning sign that the company and I are not going to be a good match for one another. As to whether this could be considered a form of discrimination, it certainly seems to flirt with it. Makes you wonder whether simply letting them be stupid isn't punishment enough.
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:31AM (#26428349)
    and assuming that I were alone in the desert with scant food or water, my answer would be "drink its blood, and eat the rest".

    That is a completely sane and eminently practical answer. Oh, and "keep its shell for future collection of water."

    But I'll bet you just about anything that is not the answer they want to hear. They would rather see you dehydrate and starve, as long as you are "warm-hearted" and "ethical" about it.
  • by Torodung (31985) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:32AM (#26428357) Journal

    And, as a follow up, these tests notoriously reflect a person's "self-image," not necessarily the way their personality actually functions and how they will interact with others. The indications a test determines must be carefully verified in an interview, not taken at face value like a piece of litmus paper.

    The basic fact is that a single person's testimony is demonstrably unreliable, sometimes even (or in many cases especially) when it regards themselves.


  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:36AM (#26428393)

    why not just leave them in there for 6 to 10 days and then hire the one or two still alive?

  • Re:Not technical (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lee1026 (876806) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:41AM (#26428437)

    Ah, so they end up hiring the either the balanced or the intelligent. Not a bad end for them.

  • by moore.dustin (942289) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:43AM (#26428449) Homepage
    Information gathered from personality tests should be used by intelligent managers in order to maximize the potential of their subordinates by playing to their strengths? Using the information to screen out certain individuals could be useful in some _very specific_ situations, sure. Generally speaking though, it is just misuse of valuable information that thus educated person would apply in their management practices.

    You do not ask an Idealist to proofread your financial documents, you do not ask a Pragmatic person to make long term strategic plans and you certainly are not going to get anything from a Realist if you ask them to brainstorm. Knowing how someone constructs their thoughts is _invaluable_. What does not do much good, however, is filtering your candidates to only one type. You are only asking for failure there, as every personality/thinking type has its vices.

    Every single type.
  • by dragonturtle69 (1002892) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:43AM (#26428455)

    These are heavily used in the service sector. My personal view, if used correctly in conjunction with an interview and the application/resume, they help give a fuller picture of the applicant. They should not be used as a pass/fail measure.

    But, HR believes in it, so it must be golden. If only they knew how many managers had their own answer key tests hard copied onsite, and were used when they had applicants that they wanted.

    People are too complex to be sorted out in 200 questions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:49AM (#26428503)

    I agree . . . these types of tests are associated with the rise of "professional managers", who supposedly have some sort of general management skills, such that they can manage factory line workers and retail salespersons equally well, they just know how to manage. I question whether such a general managerial skill exists.

    Another feature of the professional business manager who knows nothing about his (or any) business, is undue attention to tax breaks and tax avoidance, and games of accounting. When you don't know how to make cars, run a pipeline, or write software, but you are part of shifting professional class that may find themselves in charge of any of these, then you tend to do things such as move facilities to a lower tax area, rather than improve basic opporations. Changing the way you calculate the worth of loans and facilities from "mark-to-market" to something else is considered "innovation" only if you truly have no idea how to take $100 and make something that is worth $110.

    I also suspect that professional managers ignorant of business tend as a group to over-spend on advertising, branding, and marketing, but that correlation is not as strong as the tax / accounting focus.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:55AM (#26428545)

    Apparently not being a blithe, extroverted yes-man on some arbitrary test now means you can't get a job.

    I was recently hired for a new job, and of my new bosses, while they've uniformly expressed pleasure in my technical abilities, they all say the reason for hiring me was my personality. One mentioned specifically that their job involves keeping clients happy, and who would you rather bring to meet the client: the arrogant jackass who's got a lot of technical experience, or the personable guy who is willing to learn anything he doesn't know and happy to admit that he doesn't know everything.

    Your mileage may vary, but I just jumped $30k in salary during a recession.

    Did any of them hear of "faking it"?

    It's quite possible to "fake it".

    it's also quite possible to have an adaptive and modular personality with a "core" that is "you".

    I fall into this final category.

    My mother thinks i'm one person, my friends think im another, my boss thinks i'm another.
    Back in school, the motto was: if it's for a grade I can and will do whatever is necessary. This included phys ed. I'm by no means an athelete but I outperformed the jocks on the track when there was a grade attached to it.

    Provide a great enough point of interest (compensation, subject material, a cause to work for, or please please please all 3) and I will adopt whatever demeanor and expertise are necessary to get the job done.

    All the personality test does is weed out people like me.

    It can measure the core, or whatever I THINK they might want, but without them telling me what they're looking for I can't adapt myself to their environment.

    "we're going on a trip, we want a vehicle"

    via which medium? microgravity? the ocean? land? the atmosphere?
    what are you taking along?
    what balance of efficiency or redundancy do you need?
    do you value endurance or speed?

    When faced with some automated test you can't ask these questions!

  • Re:google does (Score:5, Insightful)

    by femto (459605) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:06AM (#26428615) Homepage

    I recently completed a postgraduate course on "organisational behaviour", which is the field from where the justification for these personality tests is supposed to originate.

    It turns out that there is no objective justification for the tests. The texts were quite clear that little if any benefit can be derived from subjecting individuals to such tests, as the tests were only ever designed to measure populations. While the aggregate score across many people might have meaning, a single individual's results are meaningless. Being subject to such a test is a useful indicator that the prospective employer you are interviewing has a clueless HR department.

    It was interesting doing a few job interviews with large companies after having completed the course. It was soooo tempting to answer each question with a page number from the text.

  • by shog9 (154858) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:14AM (#26428667)

    As the parent stated: Life rewards Cheaters. Play the part, win the prize. The only ones hurt are those unfortunate applicants who take the test at face value and answer honestly...

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:17AM (#26428689)
    But that is still fudging, in the worst way! The test-makers are trying to add value to their tests by acknowledging that their tests do not work! They are simply trying to second-guess where and how badly they do not work, and put that information to use.

    "Well, there is a great big hole in the test there, but we have managed to scrape together some spackle to cover it up... and we have some wood putty for over there...

    Thanks, but I will take someone to lunch and get to know them instead.
  • by PSUspud (7236) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:21AM (#26428713) Homepage

    When I was trying to get a job in teaching, the hardest jobs to apply for were the ones that used a personality screening. I never got past that, it was obvious why -- the test was looking for suck-ups and yes-men, teachers who would do exactly what the principal said, and never rock the boat.

    And isn't that one of the problems with education today? Not to brag, but I guarantee that I was in the 98th or higher percentile on my Praxis tests. But I know for a fact that other teaching students with me got jobs teaching math while I barely got interviews. People that barely can follow along with the book are going to do a better job of showing the joy of mathematics than I am? When the school is selecting for sheep and not smarts, what kind of teacher do they get? What kind of school do they get? And what kind of "educated" students do we turn out? Shit, shit and shit, of course.

  • But then... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:31AM (#26428771)
    as other people have mentioned here, who wants to work for those kinds of companies?

    Let me tell you what my policy about employers is (I have made but one exception since I formulated this policy, and I had good reasons for that exception):

    If they want me to take a test, they can take one first and show me their results. I don't care whether it is a personality test, or a polygraph test, or a drug test.

    If upper managers have personality or gambling or theft or drug problems, THEY are a lot more likely to screw up the company than I am!!!

    I actually asked once if a manager would take the same drug test they wanted me to take, and show me the results. They looked at me like I was crazy. I tossed down my application, walked out the door, and never looked back.

    They can lead by example, or STFU.
  • Re:Not technical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Minwee (522556) <> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:31AM (#26428773) Homepage

    The thing was completely worthless; Anyone with an IQ over 90 could have figured out the "correct" answers.

    Perhaps you misunderstood the purpose of the test.

    Would you want to hire someone who couldn't even figure out how to lie convincingly during an interview for a position which would involve being in constant contact with the public?

    A big part of dealing with customers is figuring out the "correct" answers. Basically, that the customer's concern is important to you, that the more expensive product really is a better choice, and that you really are going to be right back after checking the reserve stock section which really is located right near the break room.

    If a simple test can filter out the applicants who are too honest or too clueless for a career in retail sales, why not use it?

  • by khasim (1285) <> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:37AM (#26428803)

    Now... understand that there is a huge amount of debate about just what IQ is, and what it is good for, what it predicts... but the accurate and repeatable measuring of it has become something of a science.

    The same cannot be said for personality testing.

    And the reason for that is that it is possible to have a wrong answer on an IQ test.

    But with a "personality test" I keep hearing that there are no wrong answers (except that if you don't answer in a specific pattern then you won't be hired). That is stupid. You cannot judge how someone will act based upon how they CLAIM they will act or what they CLAIM that they believe.

    And don't get me started on the FUCKING STUPID questions in the first place. []
    36 stupid questions that will tell you everything you need to know about your value system. Yeah. Right. And yet you'll find all kinds of companies that will help you use it to "evaluate" applicants.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:38AM (#26428809) Homepage Journal

    Maybe you should watch it again.

    The whole point is that it is not a question.

    Holden: You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down...
    Leon: What one?
    Holden: What?
    Leon: What desert?
    Holden: It doesn't make any difference what desert, it's completely hypothetical.
    Leon: But, how come I'd be there?
    Holden: Maybe you're fed up. Maybe you want to be by yourself. Who knows? You look down and see a tortoise, Leon. It's crawling toward you...
    Leon: Tortoise? What's that?
    Holden: [irritated by Leon's interruptions] You know what a turtle is?
    Leon: Of course!
    Holden: Same thing.
    Leon: I've never seen a turtle... But I understand what you mean.
    Holden: You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back, Leon.
    Leon: Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden? Or do they write 'em down for you?
    Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.
    Leon: [angry at the suggestion] What do you mean, I'm not helping?
    Holden: I mean you're not helping! Why is that, Leon?
    [Leon has become visibly shaken]
    Holden: They're just questions, Leon. In answer to your query, they're written down for me. It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response... Shall we continue?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:59AM (#26428961)

    'jobs today have a higher technical requirement than back in the day, so while i don't agree that just turning up is enough to get the job'

    Your average person turning up has a higher technical capability today than back in the day as well. Almost every position is trainable in any case. Personality checks, credit checks, drug tests, etc are all worthless garbage on the hiring front but what is worse is this obsession with trying to find the already perfectly qualified candidate.

    I'm a technician. I work in the field, on a daily basis I encounter systems and software and must master them quickly enough to resolve problems encountered by people who work with those systems all day everyday for a living and make them think I knew more about it than them all along. I have been doing so successfully for years. Yet, despite this, I have been turned down for positions before because I lacked experience with a particular application, perhaps backup application, etc.

    When did people lose sight of the fact that working a position within a single company generally involves a skillset that a competent fast learner can master within two months? The fact that two months of training is too much to invest in an employee these days says a great deal about the direction companies are moving in.

  • by Skreems (598317) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:11AM (#26429045) Homepage
    He probably wasn't playing games... some places just really are that inconsiderate.
  • Re:google does (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gregbot9000 (1293772) <> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:13AM (#26429061) Journal

    They are very valuable, They act as both an IQ test to see if you are too stupid to lie, and a drone test to see if you are the kind of person willing to sit in a cubicle and waste 40 minutes on something so stupid, with little to no promise of reward.

    I used to do these right(i.e. lie) but then I started to just answer them honestly, and know what happened? I still got the job, but they had to sit me down and actually go over the results. Apparently when a cashier gives you back to much change you are supposed to tell her! Of course I just lied to the HR reps face and made her happy.

    They are an interesting idea: make the person interviewing lose all respect and loath the business as incompetent within the first 15 minuets so they know exactly what they are getting. I guess that's why you only see these at entry level service jobs.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:13AM (#26429065) Journal

    'an intelligent person would understand that different sectors, firms within sectors, and departments within firms place different values upon divergent priorities.'

    False. The intelligent understands that low level managers that accomplish work within the company do all of the above. The intelligent understands that this test is developed by corporate and marketing type droids and thus they should answer in a manner the corporate/marketing droid would like. Read the employee handbook or watch an orientation video at any company and express the attitude expressed in said video. ATTENTION! Do not give the answers that would actually best fit to accomplish the goals and ideals stated in said video, give the answers the fit the ATTITUDE expressed in the video with the solutions they stated and state the goals they state. Even if those things conflict.

    'Efficiency is composed of accuracy and speed. How is each of these weighted?'

    You don't weight them, you are superman and work both accurately and fast. Whatever option gives the most of both is what you want. Companies never want you to SAY you are willing to sacrifice quality for speed. If there is an option that says you will exceed goals ahead of deadline, pick that one.

    'Work dynamic is composed of the independence vs the subordination of workers to the chain of command. How are those weighted?'

    If you are applying for management you are absolutely a free thinker and worker who rigidly adheres to every letter of company policy. If you are applying to anything else you are a self starting management teetsucker. Clear enough for you? Most importantly, as anything other than management you listen to other employees every concern, never get angry, upset, or emotional, make friends easily, and never have confrontations with other employees.

  • Re:"ORly?" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:22AM (#26429131) Journal

    'Except you have NO IDEA how a "good employee" would answer.'

    No in my experience. Corporate go-getter company policy licking droid is pretty much a standard across all large companies I've encountered. This thing is produced by HR and executive level management after all. Don't confuse actual on the job work habits and needs with the corporate ideal invented by HR and public facing front of the company. It isn't like your actual manager is going to bother reading the thing.

  • by lorelorn (869271) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:28AM (#26429177)
    Sort of. The goal of such convoluted hiring practises is not to hire the 'best' candidate for the position but instead to protect the person making the decision of who to hire. This will crop up frequently in large, bureaucratic organisations, where following a process is valued above all else. HR people love them.
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:46AM (#26429281)

    'jobs today have a higher technical requirement than back in the day, so while i don't agree that just turning up is enough to get the job'

    Your average person turning up has a higher technical capability today than back in the day as well. Almost every position is trainable in any case. Personality checks, credit checks, drug tests, etc are all worthless garbage on the hiring front but what is worse is this obsession with trying to find the already perfectly qualified candidate.

    I'm a technician. I work in the field, on a daily basis I encounter systems and software and must master them quickly enough to resolve problems encountered by people who work with those systems all day everyday for a living and make them think I knew more about it than them all along. I have been doing so successfully for years. Yet, despite this, I have been turned down for positions before because I lacked experience with a particular application, perhaps backup application, etc.

    When did people lose sight of the fact that working a position within a single company generally involves a skillset that a competent fast learner can master within two months? The fact that two months of training is too much to invest in an employee these days says a great deal about the direction companies are moving in.


    This is my major complaint. I graduated in spring 08 and can't find a job.

    The reason?

    I focused on the task i was supposed to: school!.. I took a double major and did well at both of them.

    Apparently the capacity to focus and train two separate tracks at the same time means NOTHING.

    They want "canned labor".

    Training your workforce is something to do in india, where there will be none of this "cost of living" stuff.

    I give it about 10 more years before they realize there's no such thing as a free lunch, and killing peoples' wages will kill revenues. (they should be learning it now, but the government is bailing them out >.)

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:57AM (#26429385)

    Really? Your story encompassed years. In particular, it was about 1/5 of your life.

    That's a LOT of time for your personality to evolve.

    By the way, try hanging out with ANYONE you're describing when you can't get a job in the first place.

    Hurray, another catch 22.

    So now, if I get 4-5 new credit cards and run them up running down to trendy districts and hanging out I might get a job in 5 years? I'm sorry but that doesn't counter my point.

    Employers are not allowed to include religion, so why should they include the core philosophy upon which you operate?

    This is a HUGE thing. If everyone operates on the same core philosophy, nobody will balance it out, and nobody will innovate.

    The trend against hiring pessimists is a very good example.

    No pessimists in the highly competitive investment banking job market makes the world a sad panda!

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:03AM (#26429429)

    Might I add that my current insult is in the service sector.

    I call it an insult because food delivery is not a job for a degreed professional.

    In this environment i'm quite capable of providing service with a smile and prompting golden reviews.

    I'll still fail every personality test though. I guess nobody has ever seen someone with a personality deeper than plywood.

  • by jcenters (570494) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:12AM (#26429499) Homepage
    Well, what about people who do have that sort of personality? What are they supposed to do, starve? What's the point of education and experience if it all comes down to your natural personality and who you know? Maybe we should give out the personality tests before we let people into education. "Sorry, we know you want to be an Engineer, and you could be great at it, but you're just not bubbly enough. You'll have to settle for after hours janitor."
  • by Klootzak (824076) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:32AM (#26429627)

    I'm not the AC, but I empathize with him/her greatly.... Why do you think the AC is an arrogant jackass?
    Because he/she is telling you the truth? Why are you penalizing people for being honest?

    The last personality test I did had two questions which were supposedly the same one worded different ways... it's MEANING was completely different:

    a)Did you give your teachers trouble while you were at school?

    b)Did your teachers have trouble dealing with you while you were at school?

    'a' DOES NOT equal 'b' in this instance, I NEVER gave a teacher trouble, yet the teacher always hated me for asking questions, because he/she couldn't answer them! (I wasn't trying to make her or him feel stupid, I just wanted to know!!)

    So I'd answer question 'a' with strongly disagree, 'b' with strongly agree.

    However, this is not the answer the tester wanted!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:32AM (#26429631)
    The company I work for designs and delivers tests for applicants for jobs in fortune 500 companies. It has collected data on millions of applicants, including the answers they gave to those tests, whether they were hired, how long they lasted on the job, and why they left. The grading on those tests is based on statistics. A certain profile of answers on a 'dependability' test may produce a higher probability of a person being fired, or not lasting for long, in a particular kind of occupation, than another profile will. This scoring enables the prospective employer to have better returns on his hiring practices, which in the long run, saves the employer a *lot* of money. This is no different than using a person's driving record to predict his probability of having an accident and adjusting his insurance rates accordingly. Or using his credit record to predict his probability of being a bad - or good - credit risk. The significant difference between this and the "personality" based test is: You can't predict the outcome of this based on the questions, where you could with the MBTI-style ones. Even though the questions are the same, the scoring is based on results. So if you didn't get hired based on the results of one of these tests, it's probable that you wouldn't have liked the job long enough to stay there very long, or would have left under less than desirable circumstances. So it's a win for you, the applicant as well, even though it doesn't feel like it at the time you're passed over. And about discrimination: at some point, someone has to pick someone out of a crowd of applicants. Legally, he can use any criterion he deems fit, except for the well-known proscribed ones of race, creed, color, religion, etc. Someone was a better fit than you for that position.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:35AM (#26429659)

    You can't find a job because you're shooting too high. People seem to think college entitles them to something. Try being a temp worker in your field for a while. You'll gain experience, you can easily bail if you hate the place, and it's pretty easy to get hired if you can put on your job application that you already work there.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:37AM (#26429673)

    I can see points of bias in your tests already.

    The exclusion bias.

    You have no idea how many people with different personalities from those you know were excluded. Perhaps people who had personalities with more facets than the test could examine, or with facets none of "kennedy's wiz kids" (who designed the test the same way they ran vietnam) have ever seen.

    The inherent inaccuracy of self-confidence.

    self-confidence is a relative thing.
      People who are interviewing for a job generally have their fundamental ability to eat and pay rent at stake. Those are much, MUCH higher stakes than "this is a new client, let's do a good job" and as such is subject to greater risk aversity.

    Analytical capability:

    Various positions require various levels of analysis, and my experience is those robotic tests do not provide adequate clues as to the level of analysis which should be applied.

    And its not mumbo jumbo that drives this. Its just freaking statistics.

    because we all know statistics cannot be manipulated, misrepresented, improperly gathered, etc.

    Employment prospects are more like a scatter plot with high variance, and these tests are like the most simplistic best-fit regression lines. They WILL exclude wide swaths of excellent candidates based on arbitrarily placed limits. This is especially true for testing services contracted from outside.

    o everyone a huge favor by helping to ensure that the people we offer jobs to will do well in them and be happy

    Isn't that what interviews and training programs are for? acquainting them with company policy, teaching them the procedures, filling them in on how to do their job?

  • by MadKeithV (102058) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @04:43AM (#26429697)
    Best question: "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
  • by Hecatonchires (231908) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:29AM (#26429941) Homepage

    Sounds like someone has an unearned sense of entitlement. I'm a degreed professional too, but if it all goes tits-up in this recession, I know I can happily go back to dishpigging or a service station because I'll be earning money. Any earnt money is better than no earnt money when you have a mortgage.

  • by umghhh (965931) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:43AM (#26430045)

    I was charged with preparing technical test in a company that was growing fast enough as not to have real HR dep. so engineers had to do that. We always tested according to directives of our managers but the final result was always tweaked according to our gut feeling which could be helped by bringing some beers for instance or being recommended by one of us and bringing the boose:) The company was very successful in what it did. I left it to earn more money (which proved to be futile) the colleagues that stayed are now managers - the only one that went into reverse in his career there was the one that we rejected because we did not like him but our boss reversed our decision because his university degree was so good. So it worked in case of this company and it worked not based on some smart ass test done by agency that is 'professional' to the core but on our gut feeling and understanding that the candidate was one our peers. This worked perfectly. Now the tests that the HR dep. did later on was not even approximately so successful.

    I had to do tests as an applicant too and every time I failed but I do not regret it because I see this as an indication of a job not being suitable for me not other way around. It usually is. Incidentally only one of these tests was personality test, the other two were technical and experience based. I failed them because they were looking for 100% match and I did not chose to prepare myself to such test - hey if they do not appreciate learning candidates then they do not need me. That back then - now I have family so I try harder and may yet to reconsider...

    OC this all is a bullshit in times of crisis - usually people just discard you because your nose is not straight enough and that is the most frustrating experience there is.
    The only advice in such conditions is: try to get as much experience as possible during your university days and if job applications do not yield anything try to become self-employed - even if you are not very successful there future employers may pick you because of our will and drive shown in such way.

  • Re:No... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:45AM (#26430053) Journal

    I think the entire point of using the term making out is because it is so vague. IF you said no, they could figure that your willing to over look potentially wrong doing by other employees. If you said define making out, it could show that your willing to over look the actions that you agree of or the rules you disagree with. If you said something along the order of "if they were just holding hands and kissing, no, if it was more then that probably (or yes)", if could show that you know enough to know when someone crosses a line and are willing to inform them.

    Anyways, the question and answer isn't really important by itself. It means nothing without the other meaningless questions popped inside of other questions at random. You can see a trend that reinforces behavioral traits and the idea is to subconsciously extract it. For example, the making out question could have been followed by have you even told on your siblings or a school mate for doing something wrong. IF so, on a scale of one to ten with one being the most severe and 10 the least, point to the number referencing the least severe thing wrong and the most severe thing they did wrong. But they won't ask that right after the "making out" question, they will attempt to distract you from it altogether with other questions and then work it back in. The idea is to look for trends. Someone who always tells on people for the least bit wrong will tend to be an authoritarian who will bother management as well as disrupte the working environment. Or at least the potential it there. The person who will never complain will be too passive and watch everything fall apart right in front of him which isn't desirable either. But the people in between, as gauged by the other questions may actually be desirable even if tendencies to either extreme exist. Try taking a personality test [] by answering honestly then do it again while trying to manipulate the answers to be the person you think they will see you as. You will most likely be surprised at what you think the right answers really say about you.

    BTW, there are other personality test sites out there. I'm not affiliated with the one I posted nor am I with any of them. It's just the first one I saw from a google search and I recognized the names of the assignment the test attempts to associate with. I don't think there are any specific right and wrong answers to it. It just attempts to show how others will see you.

  • by innerweb (721995) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:23AM (#26430347)

    I have taken several of these tests and one of the things I have realized is that the person(s) writing these tests are not writers. Their command of the American English language is sometimes daft at best. So, you have to be very careful about interpreting what a questions means based on what is written. You have to intuit what they are actually asking/looking for based on the rest of the questions and answer that way. The best tests I have taken were all internally developed by the peers you were to work with, but the vast majority of tests seem to be developed by people who think that they have personality down to a science, but to me, seem to only be grasping at elementary fundamentals. Maybe there is another slant on this though.

    Sometimes, I wonder if these tests are not weeding out people who have problem reading between the lines and giving the answer that another person is looking for. Maybe the goal of the tests is to hire the person who can say what they need to say as opposed to what they believe. Maybe in many positions that is what they really want. That makes sense if you think about customer service or many (if not most) managers these days. How many customers want anything other than yes mam? How many bosses want anything other than It can be done? If the tests are indeed looking to fill positions with people willing to do that, then people who lie are what they are looking for. That I find easy to believe. We don't seem to be a culture based on the truth anyway. We seem to desire delusional thinking and irrational exuberance. Reality sucks! Working to make it better sucks even worse, so lets all pretend it is all well and good anyway. Then we can skate until the economy tanks, or the house burns down, or the business collapses. In the mean time, we make our checks and we spend more. Yeah, these tests don't want people who see the problem with those things. They want people who breeze past those things.


  • Re:Not technical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Manuel M (1308979) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:28AM (#26430379)
    The problem is in the 'or'. Intelligent criminals and intelligent sociopaths are probably more dangerous than those who are less smart.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:49AM (#26430505)

    Oh, so I should move to india?

    Any job which is not facing a customer is either in mumbai or soon will be.

    That's so untrue. There are plenty of opportunities in Hydrabad and Beijing.

  • Re:Not technical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nevurthls (1167963) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:02AM (#26430597) Homepage

    But it can't. The test does most likely not correlate with actual behavior at all.

    To just say it bluntly: almost all personality tests are completely unreliable, the best ones are at most somewhat reliable. This means that most people, when they do the same personality test some time later, score differently. This is a terrible problem, as the point of these tests often is to measure a personality, something presumably stable over time. If a test used to measure a trait gives unreliable test results, it apparently can not be measuring a stable trait, and what it does measure can not be used as a predictor of behavior! Even the traits as measured in the Myers-Briggs questionnaire (the most used test in this country to measure personality) have terrible issues with reliability (for an easy quick link: []). A lack of reliability in a measure is extremely problematic when the measure is used for predictions, as lacking reliability literally means lacking predictive power.

    Now this poor reliability I mentioned is the test-retest reliability, the reliability for a test to predict itself in the future. that being bad is made even worse because more often than not these tests are used to predict actual behavior. And the reliability of any pen-and-paper test to predict actual behavior is even worse than the retest reliability.

    This problem of low reliability is the biggest issue and concerns all personality scores ever made. However, most tests, unlike the big five or the Myers-Briggs tests, suffer from horrible validity issues as well. Any ad hoc test created by employers is probably not even measuring what it's intended to measure due to it's creators not doing a proper factor analysis and such to test for underlying constructs, etc. (see [] )

    So besides being non-predictive of anything, these tests are not even measuring anything useful if they were.

  • by Heather D (1279828) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @10:20AM (#26432469)
    Once a company creates a human resources dept. they have effectively become a bureaucracy and from that point onward filling out the paperwork properly becomes much more important to them than any other concerns.
  • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @10:39AM (#26432777)

    He called an hour late again.

    Remember: you're interviewing your prospective employer, too. This guy clearly failed YOUR test.

  • by tnk1 (899206) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:54PM (#26435113)

    The single biggest mistake a student can make is assuming that your job is to study.

    Don't feel bad, the colleges try and fool you into thinking that Learning is Awesome and will Open Your Horizons.

    In reality, college is simply there to make sure you have some minimal level of skills above high school and to weed out the slackers.

    Your job is to study and double major and be academically impressive if you want to be an *academic*. If you aren't going on to grad school right after undergrad, you get a job in your field and intern while you are in school.

    If you do end up out of college without a job, either because you didn't understand why you were there, or because you're a failed grad school applicant, you need to get religion and get back to basics. You need two things:

    a) a job that gives you a title that sounds like the ones in your field

    b) a job that has enough responsibilities that are in your field that you could plausibly say that you have some experience with those skills.

    Look at that and stop thinking that you know what an entry level job in your field is. Anything at all that fulfills those two requirements plausibly is enough.

    For instance, running your Mom's linux server will not be plausible experience, but if your Mom runs a small business, guess what? You're a System Administrator now. Maybe you wrote some code for her? You're a developer. As long as your resume says her company name as a valid employer and you make sure your duties sound about right for what you are looking for, you now have *experience*... if you can spin it correctly in the interview.

    Bear in mind, you do need to actually be able to back yourself up when they question you about your experience, so make sure and actually do the job. I'm presuming that you are actually a skilled individual who can learn on the job if you need to and can take something away from doing the job.

    Having said that, no one really cares who you worked for, or even if they paid you, as long as that employer is not bullshit, and as long as you can talk convincingly about your experience.

    A college grad is one of the most useless things in the working world. Everyone actually doing the job you prepared for knows that your degree doesn't mean you know shit about your job. They know this because they were once college grads too. Your double major makes them yawn. Who cares if you are a CS/EE? So were they, and probably a good 1/5 of their applicants. And if they weren't, they think you're a nerd. Chances are that they are either doing CS or EE, and not both. Do you know what CVS is for? Have you used the IDE that they are using? Do you know what Agile development is (lol)? You get the idea.

"Help Mr. Wizard!" -- Tennessee Tuxedo