Wed 4 Mar, 2009 01:33 pm
Have you ever applied for a job and had to take one of those "personality" surveys or questionnaires that somehow tell your prospective employer exactly what kind of person you are, if you're likely to be able to handle the work load, and what color underwear you are wearing at the time of the interview? Well, I want to know: what exactly DO they want you to say?! The instructions clearly read: be completely truthful, do NOT give answers that you think are the right ones, just pick the answer that best describes you, you will not be graded on the topic of the questions asked, but how accurately you answer them, and so on, so forth. So of course one question was: Have you ever experimented with illegal narcotics? Which one and how often? Hmmm...well, there WAS that one time in college when I tried smoking marijuana for the first time, and then puked all night...and they SAID be completely honest...okay, I'll mark: yes, once, in my college years. Needless to say, I did not get the job, and the hiring manager was nice enough to give me a parting tip, she said, you know, you don't have to be SO honest, employers don't want to hear that you did drugs before. THEN WHY ASK???!!!
Good question! Why do they ask if they suspect dishonest answers?
However, she gave you good advice. Answer questions based on a "need to know" basis. If it won't affect your performance, don't tell them. It's really none of their business.
Yeah, well, that particular incident was the time I applied to a jewelry company. Now, the police department, on the other hand, not only tells you to be completely and brutally honest, but they threaten you with a follow-up polygraph lie detector test in the final stages of the application process. NOW WHAT??? damned if ya do, damned if ya don't, huh?! lol
These tests say more about the company (as a perspective employer) than they do about you (as a perspective employee). They are no more accurate than a tarot card reading in determining if you would be a good employee or not.
So decide what you want, then play the game accordingly. Remember that getting a job is a two way street, they need to convince you that you want to work there at the same time you are trying to convince them that they want you there.
That a company makes me jump through this kind of meaningless hoop is a negative in my judgment of them as a perspective employer. Depending on how desperate I am for a job, I may rule them out before I take the test.
If I decide to go through with it... then my goal is to get them to offer me a job. And so, I would answer accordingly giving them the answers that will most likely give me a high score (based on my understanding of what they are looking for). I would certainly not say anything that might hurt my chances, particularly things like drug use that are frankly none of their business.
The interview is another matter. The interview is a face to face conversation about whether my perspective employer and I are a good match. In this case I strive to have an honest discussion that includes my qualifications as well as things I care about in a workplace.
These tests are snake-oil that make a lot of money to the hucksters who promise a mystical shortcut to the hard work of finding good employees. The idea that these tests can somehow detect dishonesty is silly... the results are little more then random-- and certainly wouldn't reveal anything that a good interviewer want find out.
This is why I don't take them at all seriously.
Even if I was a reformed heroin user I would have answered no to that one.