Monday, April 15, 2013

The hell with you, Unicru

Imagine applying for a low-paying job in retail or fast food. In your heart, you really don’t want to work at this place; however, you have tried to find a better job but couldn’t. So you fill out your application and wait. 

If you are lucky, you then get the opportunity to take a personality test. A long personality test, 50 to 100 questions on average, with statements like these after which you are to indicate Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree:

“You are a friendly person.”

“You keep calm when under stress.”

“You could not deal with difficult people all day.”

“You show it when you are in a bad mood.”

Those sound fair enough for a job in which you will need to deal with the public, and the public will not always be in a good temper. Yes, ideally you will be friendly and calm, and be able to deal with difficult people without showing a bad mood.

But then you may see these statements as well:

“It is maddening when the court lets guilty criminals go free.”

“When you are done with your work, you look for more to do.”

“Other people’s feelings are their own business.”

“You have to give up on some things that you start.”

How do you answer those questions? Are the “guilty criminals” drug users or murderers? When you are done with your work, you may look for more work to do, or you may stop because it’s quitting time, or you may be just too tired to do any more meaningful work. How much do you need to know about other people’s feelings? And don’t you have to give up on some things in order to start new and better things?

Not according to the Unicru test, which is a product of Kronos, a creator of human resources tools. (“Human resources tools” – I don’t like the sound of that.)

Timothy Horrigan, who has a MBA in marketing from USC, did some research on pre-employment personality tests and came to these conclusions:

1. Always answer Strongly Agree or Strongly Disagree – don’t be ambiguous.

2. Give answers which make you look cheerful, outgoing, patient, humble, and willing to do anything the job requires – no matter what.

3. Don’t give even a hint of introversion.

Mr. Horrigan has helpfully provided a key to the questions you may be asked on a personality test. I read this key, and I know one thing for sure: I would have to kick honesty to the curb in order to “pass” this test.

“Any trouble you have is your own fault.” Not always.

“You do not fake being polite.” Isn’t that an essential skill of a service job?

“You have no big regrets about your past.” Who doesn’t?

“You know when someone is in a bad mood, even when they don’t show it.” What are you, Betazoid?

“You love to listen to people talk about themselves.” Unless they’re bores.

(All of the questions above are Strongly Agree according to the key.)

Then we have statements that are similar, but have contradictory “right” answers: 

“You give direct criticism when you need to.” (Strongly Agree)

“You criticize people when they deserve it.” (Strongly Disagree)

And then we have the statements which weed out the introverts:

“You chat with people you don’t know.” 

“You like to be in the middle of a big crowd.”

“You like to talk a lot.”

“You are a fairly private person.”

“You are unsure of yourself with new people.”

“You do not like small talk.”

“You ignore people you don’t like.”

“You like to be alone.”

If you don’t know you should answer Strongly Agree to the first three statements, and Strongly Disagree to the rest, you will probably fail the test.

I know I would.

But think about this:

Would you have a problem with service from an introvert who wasn’t a Chatty Cathy, but could be patient and helpful?

Would you not have a problem with a service person who yakked your ear off about subjects not related to what you were there for? 

Isn’t it strange that employers, who would almost always say “yes” if asked if they wanted honest employees, would give a test that only a liar could pass?

Does that sound logical to you?

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