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Simulators Take the Humans Out of Hiring

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the use-the-konami-code dept.

Businesses 143

Hugh Pickens writes "Ken Gaebler discusses a new way of hiring called 'employment simulations,' which are gaining popularity among high-tech firms that are seeking data from prospective employees that you can't get from sit-down interviews. In a typical employment simulation, candidates participate in online 'video games' that leverage simulation software to determine how well candidates perform in actual job situations. 'There are no questions about your former work experience and office habits. There's simply a computer game. If you win, you get the job. If you lose, game over.' As one example, call centers are very amenable to simulations because the work environment (a series of computer programs and databases) is relatively easy to replicate and the tasks that make up job performance are easy to measure (data entry speed and accuracy, customer service, multitasking, etc). Other employment simulation programs have been written for healthcare, insurance, retail sales, financial services, hospitality and travel, manufacturing and automotive, and telecom and utilities. But skeptics say employment simulators and other computer-based hiring models have some drawbacks. 'Like any technology, the effectiveness of employment simulations is limited to the quality of the software and its accessibility to users,' says Gaebler."

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frost prist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934189)

nigger boner

Good luck with that (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934199)

Why would I want to have an employer with that kind of approach and attitude to managing employees?

Re:Good luck with that (4, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934213)

Presumably, they'll just get employees who can simulate working. While goofing off.

Re:Good luck with that (4, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934593)

Having good references from previous jobs that you've been at for 5+ years in no way means that you can actually do the work. It could just be that you're a very good slacker who can bullshit their way out of doing work.

For every Dilbert, there's two Wallys.

Re:Good luck with that (3, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934925)

Having good references from previous jobs that you've been at for 5+ years in no way means that you can actually do the work. It could just be that you're a very good slacker who can bullshit their way out of doing work.

... which makes them management material ... :-p

For every Dilbert, there's two Wallys.

What I can't help wondering is how soon some start-up will offer to help you literally "game the system?"

Actually... (4, Interesting)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934973)

Not only that, wouldn't you want to hire a genius with 0 experience? (This is the amount of experience they will leave university with). I have been advocating this for ages. Not necessarily a computer simulation of the job, that seems unnecessary as you can test someone's abilities without one. In a call centre I would for example just get them to work a few hours and see how they do. But the principle of testing seems much more effective than relying on paperwork. I recently moved to Germany where you can't clean a toilet without the proper qualifications. I have an IT degree and while studying I learned that one can pass such a degree without actually being good at any of the skills taught. In addition I knew lot of people who could out program me in their sleep, who taught themselves while being bored of high school. If I was an employer I would want to hire those guys out of high school and avoid the university dilettantes. How? Easy: let anyone who claims to have the skills come in for testing. Give them a task: 'write a program that does this, you have 3 hours'. Read their code. I worked with a company that did this and it really worked. In my current situation I am tempted to simply photoshop my university degree to say that it certifies that I am God. That will (not) teach the Germans to rely on pieces paper.

"write a program that does this" (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935099)

That was exactly what the British advanced City and Guilds programming exam consisted of: A defined program space for which you had three hours to design a program. I imagine it cost a lot more to mark that a multiple choice questionnaire.

CORRECT. This is how it's done. (2)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935751)

Programming is one field where you can say "screw their degree" and just ask someone to write little pieces of code and talk about system design with a toy problem, and then get a reasonably good sense of how competent they are. Essentially this is a simulation of the position they're going to be hired for. It's not perfect, of course, but it'll be worlds better than many other fields. And, of course, some programming questions can reveal more than others.

It seems like most of the things they're talking about with computer-automated simulations are only likely to be effective for grunt work, though. Myself, I'd rather work on software to run robots than software to test how robot-like people can be. :P

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935821)

For every Dilbert, there's two Wallys.

It's a Wally World. The moose at the door should have told you.

Re:Good luck with that (3, Informative)

darkob (634931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934217)

Because you need a job.

Self employed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934347)

Only because you've made your country so inhospitable to self-employment. Quite why you'd want to stifle new enterprise like that, I'm not sure, but there it is.

Re:Good luck with that (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934245)

Why would I want to have an employer with that kind of approach and attitude to managing employees?

Don't worry, before too long these simulators will be used to measure the ability of robots to fill the job instead of humans. Then we'll really be able to "take the human out of hiring".

Conspiracy theory: (3, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934351)

How do you know these simulations aren't being used to train A.I. replacements today!

Re:Good luck with that (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936419)

For a long time, I've felt like high-level managers are an easy target to replace humans with machines. They all have basic rules like "when the company loses money, lay off employees" and "when sales are good raise prices". Or "if vender == Microsoft, approve the purchase". And they don't even have to do a good job. It really could be reduced to an algorithm.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934395)

Why would I want to have an employer with that kind of approach and attitude to managing employees?

Because you need to eat? And all employers are doing the same?

Maybe your question was geared towards: should we, as a society, allow that kind of thing? Isn't it more important to ensure general population happiness than allowing this latest Kafkaesque fad that probably does little except annoying people? Then it would be a very good question.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934631)

If that approach carries beyond the hiring phase, you'll be giving status reports to a licensed video game character. (Turning on "gravity mode" for your boss might be a HR violation.)

P.S.

I took the test for an office gig, but failed when I shield-slammed three people asking where to find the toner cartridges.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934667)

Because living in refrigerator box does not appeal to you?

Re:Good luck with that (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934767)

Well, you could always work for an employer who uses HR drones instead.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935129)

This didn't happen to me when I was looking for a job in '00, but one conclusion I've drawn while looking at the job market the past couple of years is that pretty much everyone who's hiring is just trying to find a very reasonable-sounding way of ordering job applicants to "Dance, monkey!" This goes for the famous, profitable companies like Google, though they say "Dance, should-have-gone-to-graduate-school monkey! For two or three days, straight!"

But can the simulator tell me ... (5, Insightful)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934209)

... that candidate x plays well with others?

Technical skills (as in the technical ability to perform the tasks of the position) are only half the equation, if that. Plenty of people that have the technical chops for a given position just aren't a good fit for the position because either they don't have people skills at all, or they don't fit in well with the corporate culture, or have some other impediment to being a valuable employee that won't show up in a simulation.

As an example, I helped interview a very technically skilled person a few years ago. She really had the technical chops. Nevertheless I recommended against hiring her because she kept cutting me off in mid-sentence during the interview. My boss (and her boss) disagreed with my assessment and the candidate was hired. Technically she did quite well. But the way that she ultimately left the company was filled with the sort of drama that we all could have done without.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934239)

Yeah as if THAT can't be faked at a human powered interview. This is better, because no one "important" takes the blame for being conned during the interview process.

There is the "median" problem that the median skilled person gets stuck in the median job position and its management's job to make it work, so they failed in your anecdote, eh... Everyone likes to think they're the top 1% of whatever skills they have, be it programming languages or BSing (soft skills). 100% of personnel trying to find the top 1% is a waste of time for all concerned.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (4, Insightful)

qwak23 (1862090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934349)

Humans and computers each have areas in which they excel, though neither is perfect in those areas. A good process should try and take into account the strengths of the judge for any given criteria. In the past we relied solely on human judgement because we had no other choice. Now we can put together a system that relies on both human and computer based judgement and exploit the areas in which they each excel.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (0)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934357)

No wonder that Aspergers seems more and more like a illness...

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934371)

To play devil's advocate:
If you're talking about a position that doesn't involve much dealing with people, the human side of things may be a matter of discrimination rather than just being nice. For instance, if somebody starts speaking in African-American Vernacular English or Spanglish as they get less guarded (because they're excited or comfortable with the interviewer), some people will hold that against them, even if they're being perfectly polite and respectful.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934739)

Which is normal because "African-American Vernacular English" (so much politicaly correct terms in one expression make me dizzy) and Spanglish are, well, incorrect forms of english. It's not about being polite and respectful. It's just plain wrong grammar and orthograph.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (4, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935221)

Which is normal because "African-American Vernacular English" (so much politicaly correct terms in one expression make me dizzy) and Spanglish are, well, incorrect forms of english. It's not about being polite and respectful. It's just plain wrong grammar and orthograph.

No, it is not. They are a variant version of English, but not "incorrect". This is like claiming that British English is bad orthography, because they spell "honor" as "honour", and that it has bad grammar, because they treat collective nouns as plurals, "my bank are nice."

If you want to say that it's not the desired REGISTER of English, then you would have some traction there. However, they are valid and correct forms of English, that are nonetheless nonconformant with formal American English registers. The same way "ain't" is actually a word, and is perfectly grammatical.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935359)

This is like claiming that British English is bad orthography

British English has the virtual of having a whole country (actually many countries) where it is widely used in business. Those other variants don't. Hence, they are not "valid and correct" for general business use.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (3, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936375)

This is like claiming that British English is bad orthography

British English has the virtual of having a whole country (actually many countries) where it is widely used in business. Those other variants don't. Hence, they are not "valid and correct" for general business use.

They are indeed not a good choice for general business, however that doesn't make them invalid, or incorrect.

I could speak perfectly grammatical German, and have impeccable German spelling, but that wouldn't make it a good choice for doing business in the USA. In the same way AAVE is simply not a good choice. One might say it's an "incorrect choice" as well, but it doesn't make the language "grammatically and orthographically incorrect".

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936119)

AAVE and Spanglish are mutually incomprehensible with each other and with standard American English. Whether you call them dialects or merely incorrect forms of standard American English, they're not a good choice for communication in most large American companies. If you can't speak a language/dialect closer to standard American English, that's a minus.

(Note that AAVE is usually considered a dialect, but Spanglish is not)

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936339)

AAVE and Spanglish are mutually incomprehensible with each other and with standard American English. Whether you call them dialects or merely incorrect forms of standard American English, they're not a good choice for communication in most large American companies. If you can't speak a language/dialect closer to standard American English, that's a minus.

(Note that AAVE is usually considered a dialect, but Spanglish is not)

Indeed, they are not suitable for business and such, which is why programs have been started trying to teach Standard American English to speakers of AAVE, and Spanglish. There is a definite privilege and wider opportunities if you speak SAE, and not AAVE or Spanglish alone.

I wasn't really attempting to establish that AAVE and Spanglish don't have disadvantages, but rather solely attacking the argument that they are "orthographically and grammatically incorrect".

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936305)

I'm impressed. I can't tell whether you're being sarcastic or have actually have political correctness rammed up your arse that far.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (3, Informative)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936353)

I'm impressed. I can't tell whether you're being sarcastic or have actually have political correctness rammed up your arse that far.

It's called knowing fucking linguistics. The science simply does not support the prejudices of people who want to say that AAVE is just sloppy or incorrect English.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934407)

Like this has to be an either-or, my hiring experience has been that there's a lot of interviews and relatively little practical testing of skills. I guess the closest I came was a company that tested me for logic, math and reading comprehension but there were no tests on the subjects and tools I claimed to know, just interview questions. Most the hiring WTFs I read about are people that smooth talked their way through the interviews, like coders that couldn't code their way out of a paper bag. Most of the time you can find some way make good people with bad personalities productive, easier than the other way around. Of course in an ideal world we'd like just good people with good personalities, but reality is a compromise.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935419)

I've known too many people with good personalities who really tried to code and just couldn't do it well. Meanwhile, I've been dinged on performance reviews because of a tendency to snap at people who ask the same question several times. I've learned to bite my tongue and be more tolerant of the incompetents and barely competent people around me. Most of the incompetents have been fired eventually. It would have been better for them and the company if they hadn't been hired. We would have found better people and they most likely would have found employment in a line of work more suited towards them.

Having said that, you really need human interviews for positions that deal with the public. A simulator for a sales position? WTF????

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935035)

they don't fit in well with the corporate culture

Perhaps you should also wonder why anybody would want to fit into the corporate culture. When a man takes a corporate job, it's solely because he needs the money; if he had a choice, he would no doubt go elsewhere. Congratulations to all those big companies, who have succeeded in creating an environment nobody wants, where people nobody likes design products nobody buys.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935577)

In theory one drives a business to success, in part, by spending lots of money on the really important mission-critical things and not spending money where the returns are low.

Spending money on the interview process ensures that you get really good people. Then you don't wind up needing to spend as much on training (since your people are all livelong learners), problem resolution with clients (since good people produce higher quality products), consultants (since good people can self-organize and figure out how to augment their own team deficits) etc.

In practice, however, executives tend to think that there is a strong effect of diminishing returns when spending time/money on the interview process, and those costs should be minimized so the money could instead be spend on that which is of first importance: their own salaries.

 

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937101)

Spending money on the interview process ensures that you get really good people.

In theory. In practice, there's lots of ways to kill money on interviews while receiving the same quality of results -- many of them championed by proponents with only anecdotal evidence.

In practice, however, executives tend to think that there is a strong effect of diminishing returns when spending time/money on the interview process

Perhaps because they don't know a more expensive interview process that's actually more effective? MBAs invent interview methods, and MBAs and science don't mix well.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936537)

You sir, are an asshole. Just because someone cut you off in mid sentence doesn't mean it was a problem with them, maybe it was a problem with you. Maybe you are just butt hurt because she was better than you, go fuck yourself. You are the kind of person that makes it so hard for someone who actually knows what the fuck they are doing to get a job, die in a fire.

Re:But can the simulator tell me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936959)

Susan, is that you?

Effectiveness depends on quality? (2)

Cyphase (907627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934211)

Like any technology, the effectiveness of the human interview process is limited to the quality of the interviewers and their accessibility to interviewees.

Air Traffic Control (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934251)

ATC have been doing this for years, but it's part of a multi-layered hiring approach

Re:Air Traffic Control (2)

Hellswaters (824112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935803)

Same with the guys in the air. Most airlines flying anything from twin props, to A380's do a sim eval. Again, part of multi tiered hiring approach, but still exists. And a lot of the airlines that do not have a sim eval, will frequently go one further, and do it in the real plane.

this is how I got my last job (4, Funny)

condour75 (452029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934257)

defending the frontier against Xur and the Ko-dan armada.

Re:this is how I got my last job (2)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934353)

I'm pretty good at GTA, and I just got a call from some guy called 'Lucky' Lou Scarlotti.

Re:this is how I got my last job (1)

msk (6205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934717)

Did your recruiter look like Troy McClure?

We could do that. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934261)

"Here's a blank PC, a Fedora DVD. and an internet connection. Write me a 'hello world' powerpc
linux executable. I'll be back in an hour to see how much progress you've made. Extra credit if
it runs on that eval board in the box over there"

Re:We could do that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934325)

I'll be back in an hour to see how much progress you've made

An hour later .....

Interviewee" "Downloading updates...."

You: "There's a cot over there, food in that fridge, I'll check in tomorrow morning."

Re:We could do that. (3, Funny)

qwak23 (1862090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934329)

Fortunately for me, I'm an expert at porting "hello world" across multiple platforms.

Ask me to code anything else, and you're probably SOL.

Re:We could do that. (3, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934543)

Hmmm ... google Hello world powerpc, click on the first link [ibm.com] and scroll a bit down until you find the assembly. Now you only have to find a powerpc assembler and linker, and you're done.

Re:We could do that. (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934883)

Perfect assignment then, since that sort of thing happens frequently.

Re:We could do that. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934607)

a) echo "Hello World"

b) cat > hello.pl
#!/usr/bin/perl -wT
use strict;
print "Hello World\n";
ctrl-d
chmod 750 hello.pl ./hello.pl

Both should work on most unix platforms.

Re:We could do that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935387)

But he wants an executable, so I assume that means he doesn't want a shell script.

Ooooh, it's so hard to use pico and gcc... :] Or even cat and gcc, given that it's just hello world.

Re:We could do that. (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935517)

We actually did something like that when we interviewed Unix sysadmins a couple months ago, except instead of writing a program they had to install and configure a certain package correctly on a virtual machine.

Re:We could do that. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935663)

that's a hell of a test for flipping burgers

Cthulhu 2012! - Why vote for a lesser evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934269)

If employment simulators are good at judging employment success, then these companies should be willing and enthusiastic about making these simulators Freely available to anybody who wants to use them, and practice with them for the "interview".

This should only increase the quality of job candidates. Somehow I imagine that these Human Resources people would just consider that cheating, or too easy. Like somebody I once met said to me, he has techniques for making the job candidate nervous during the interview. He thought that making an interview a difficult process was a good thing.

Re:Cthulhu 2012! - Why vote for a lesser evil? (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934335)

You mean like SATs? No say it ain't so...

Could this be.. (2)

teknx (2547472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934271)

A new gaming genre? First Person Recruiter

// lulz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934279)

This is great news for programmers. One less layer of erroneous abstraction to deal with.

Re:// lulz (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934565)

Well, just wait until they find out to break complex problems into pieces small enough to be solved during such interview sessions. Then they can just interview so many programmers that they ultimately have the code without paying anyone for it.

Oh, you say breaking down the problems still requires employees? Well, the employment test could also be: "Given this problem, how would you break it down into smaller pieces to be assigned to different programmers?"

Re:// lulz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934881)

Well, just wait until they find out to break complex problems into pieces small enough to be solved during such interview sessions. {1}Then they can just interview so many programmers that they ultimately have the code without paying anyone for it.

Oh, you say breaking down the problems still requires employees? {2}Well, the employment test could also be: "Given this problem, how would you break it down into smaller pieces to be assigned to different programmers?"

Part 1 has already been done, but I haven't seen 2 yet. Best patent 2 quickly....

My skills shall pay off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934317)

Time to work on that aimbot.

If your job can be simulated (3, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934341)

it can (and likely will / should) be replaced with the simulator.

Re:If your job can be simulated (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934621)

Sounds like hiring /interview people from HR can be replaced by a simulator.

Re:If your job can be simulated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935561)

Sounds like hiring /interview people from HR can be replaced by a simulator.

Or buzzword matchers.

Re:If your job can be simulated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935441)

no, but it can be replaced by a Zynga-style socially addictive "Sim-Job" where you get reward points for working, or can spend real money on in-game coffees, or save points or make a bigger real-money purchase for a coffee machine for the break room, waste time going down to Kinko's to make photocopies, or save up points (or, again, shortcut this with real-money) for an office photocopy machine. This would be great - Zynga could finally bring the SOCIAL work experience to iPhone iPad, and other mobile devices. Now all it needs is someone to rip all this off from.

think outside the box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934375)

If Joe's Employment Resource Company LLC (JERC limited) come up with standard employment tests, an enterprising asshole applicant would only have to learn how to do one thing, and then pass the hire-test, work for 90 days -- the typical probation period, get terminated, and start over again.

Re:think outside the box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934603)

Hey, I've been successfully using this method since the 90s.

or... (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934501)

Firms have been taking humans out of the interview process for years. You can't seriously tell me that HR staff are human.

This might be better than having HR staff. Let's face it, HR people are failures -- at everything. Nobody ever, ever dreamed of working in HR as a kid. Nobody ever wants to do it. Hence the only people who do have no skills, no ambition, no creativity, not much in the way of brains, and have failed at something else. And thus have a chip on their shoulder with regards to absolutely everyone with any ability whatsoever.

This fact alone, explains why mediocrity exists in most corporations and government organizations. These clowns are the gatekeepers of everything else. This is why corporations lack the creativity and drive of smaller firms that have no HR.

Here's a crazy thought, mimic small firms. Have managers that actually manage, and use the technology that is available for admin and personnel management. Make decisions -- especially hiring decisions -- at the lowest possible common denominator level. Empower the lowest possible level of employees, make them involved in the quality of everything the firm does. Give them pride in their jobs. Build quality from the bottom up.

I guarantee that firing everyone in HR will increase productivity, profit and employee job satisfaction within 5 years. We simply do not need anyone working in HR in the modern age, they are a cancer at the heart of society.

Re:or... (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934887)

Eh. Companies need people to do taxes. Companies need people to fill legal forms and do low-level accounting. Companies need people to do background checks once a potential employee has passed muster. Companies need people to do payroll. Small companies, especially, can't afford to have lawyer or an accountant (or have the time for the CEO to) do everything. That's where I see HR people fitting.

I absolutely agree with you that at the first level of hiring they shouldn't get involved.

Re:or... (1)

spagthorpe (111133) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935161)

I can't agree with this. While the above description might fit a lot of people in the corporate world, it applies to many other people working in corporate jobs. I've worked a few places with some truly dedicated HR people that took pride in doing their jobs well and did. I would never have considered them stupid or having failed at everything else. Some people want a low stress 9-5 job for whatever reason...I can't imagine why. In fact, in my last big name tech company, I considered the people working a job like HR to have the brains, since they were reaping good pay and an incredible benefits package from the company, and home every night at 5pm. My engineering team was doing 60+ hour weeks.

I do agree that HR people should not be the entry into a company, since few have a clue about the skills they are looking for.

Re:or... (1)

Toze (1668155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935959)

Disagree slightly.

If HR is limited to things like managing benefits packages, publishing internally generated job descriptions to job sites, pushing applicants back to the departments without gatekeeping, handling workplace complaints, and being a clearinghouse for interdepartmental transfer, then HR contributes usefully to its company. If, on the other hand, it becomes a job-defending gatekeeper that prescreens applicants, spends all its spare time coming up with workplace behaviour rules, and setting arbitrary limits on staff remuneration, then it's a parasitic infection that ought to be burned out.

It is a sad fact that in our imperfect world, most HR departments are more like the latter than the former.

Re:or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936457)

If you feel this way, I guarantee you'd never had to defend against a wrongful termination suit.

Yikes! (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934523)

Another way to keep people that think outside of the box off the payroll.

this will need to stay away from the pre screening (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934617)

this will need to stay away from the pre screening pit fills as the last thing that you need is keyword jamming on both sides or tests that are to wide or ones that test stuff that is not even needed for the job / skills that may only be needed one time a year or stuff that is like if you can do x and y we don't need you to do z.

Or say it's better to have someone that is good at X and y but not z vs some one who is good at just z or poor to fair at all.

IBM Aptitude Tests (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934633)

When I started in computing in 1964, there were no Computer Science degrees, no certificates. IBM would select their programming staff by aptitude tests. All that was important was the established high correlation between the test and subsequent success in IBM. Since then, I have seen people with various certification who are good at passing certificate tests, but hopeless at real world issues.

The positive side is that simulations are probably a good way of creating a threshold, however they do not supplant training, nor should they be used to support psychopathic bosses.

Will the tests have be safe from discrimination? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934649)

Will the tests have be safe from discrimination / be able to be modded for reasonable accommodations?

Will they be like the personality tests that some time have poor questions? and are Personality tests poor predictors of job performance http://www.institutobios.org/perstests.pdf [institutobios.org]

I don't see the problem (3, Interesting)

c1t1z3nk41n3 (1112059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934665)

I did one of these for my last call center job. It wasn't the only factor in the hiring process, but was a precursor to getting a face to face interview. Many jobs have an enormous number of applicants. Determining which ones actually have enough of the required skills to move forward is an excellent way to save time.

Re:I don't see the problem (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935199)

So far yours is the ONLY reply from somebody who has actually seen one. What does it actually test?

If this is applied in a fairly straightforward way, I think it could make sense, like a test of typing skills for a secretary job in the old days.

Re:I don't see the problem (2)

c1t1z3nk41n3 (1112059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936393)

It wasn't anything too in depth. Certainly not analogous to a video game like some of the comments here. It was basically a series of short tests for applicable skills. There was a typing speed/error rate section, then some audio listening/transcribing stuff. It's been a while and I wouldn't be surprised if newer ones are getting more in depth but the goal seems to be essentially the same.

Good for EEOC? (2)

wrencherd (865833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934691)

More competency-based hiring has to be a good thing for employers vis a vis demonstrating compliance with equal-opportunity regulation.

Given the demonstrable bias towards hiring people for reasons completely unrelated to ability (e.g. "attractiveness"), I would think that potential employees must favor this sort of thing as well.

Re:Good for EEOC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935595)

Perhaps you've never heard claims that the SAT is racist?

Re:Good for EEOC? (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937173)

Actually, the EEOC has traditionally taken a very dim view of pencil-and-paper employment tests. While such tests are not openly discriminatory, they are often considered to have a disparate impact on minorities if they fail at a higher rate than white males.

Sounds like a damned good idea to me! (1)

malhombre (892618) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934941)

I have always hated interviews because all you are doing in most is trying to make instant friend-like connections with the interviewer, who more often than not will judge the interviewees on things that have no effect on competency to perform a given job description. Many of them even create little lists of "deal breaker" mistakes that have not a damn thing to do with how effective someone will be on the job...like were their shoes shined as well as they could be? Was their tie annoying? Were they wearing a cheap watch, even!

If I am looking for a good technician, I don't care about his or her handwriting for instance - they are going to use an automated reporting system. I don't care about the particulars of what colors they wore to the interview - we are going to provide a standard dress code for field technicians. But in the company I used to work for, the HR people were definitely NOT persons with a technical background, they were geared towards sales and they all hoped to transfer over to sales or customer training positions. As a result, a good many of the candidates that I, as Systems Division Manager, finally got to interview were very nice, polite, cordial, and mostly incompetent for the job they would have to perform.Don't get me wrong, people skills are important for this job, but mostly in the area of keeping your cool and just being patient with stressed-out customers. It took me months of arguing to finally convince the owners of the company to let me do the initial screening prior to our little HR department, once I got the changes I wanted, the HR people could simply not believe that I had chosen the candidates that I did. But, finally, I got people who could actually perform the job requirements.

I would have given up part of my paycheck to have had an automated simulation in place that could effectively test people for the aptitude and skills they possess!

Re:Sounds like a damned good idea to me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935753)

Nobody interviews for tech jobs that way. In my last job we had a tech recruiter who forwarded good resumes. I did a lot of phone screens where I went over the person's resume and asked technical questions to find out how deeply they knew the areas that they claimed to be "experts" on. If they got past me (about 50%) then they were interviewed in depth by a couple more people and given a simple programming test. Then they got an offer.

Unless (2)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934967)

Your name is Ender Wiggin.

Welcome to my world! (3, Insightful)

ductonius (705942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935029)

Companies are only now figuring out that desk monkeys actually have to *do* something? Performance based evaluation is the norm in skilled trades. I have to pass practical test to retain my welding certifications. I will be asked to do something fairly complex when I start a new job (which all have trial periods akin to extended interviews) just to see what I can handle. Hopefully this type of evaluation eventually gets applied to management.

You get what you pay for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935049)

If you want cheap, automated screening, you can use simulation software, and enjoy the results of your new hiring strategy. For a while.

Crowdsourcing! (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935101)

You say "employment simulation?" I say "crowdsourcing!" What's a better simulation than the real thing?

In fact, let's get rid of the whole "we might hire them" thing entirely (but don't remove that text from the website).

Finally ... (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935117)

... some real progress in the improvement of the usual IT HR.

Re:Finally ... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935303)

... some real progress in the improvement of the usual IT HR.

Progress is the root of all evil. General Bullmoose

--

Frankie and Johnny at K-Mart

anecdotal experience with terrible tests (2)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935159)

I seem to recall that some of these tests are strange or written badly, to my expense. I remember taking such tests to assess my knowledge of, for instance, MS Office, but the software specifically required that I accomplish a task in one way and one way only. If I knew a perfectly valid way of accomplishing the task, but it wasn't the (presumably more common) way that the software wanted I got the question wrong. (Worse yet, they did this in a simulated MS Office environment...the only way to get the question right was to choose all the correct menus the first time. If the correct answer was to do something with File:Properties but I went for the Edit menu first, it was wrong immediately.)

In 2008 or so I was at a temp agency and they tested my abilities to do PC break/fix work. They asked the question which IRQ # is associated with COM1. I was furious to know that I was being graded on my knowledge of things that I hadn't had to worry about in at least 10 years.

Exploitable (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935259)

Anyone with the mindset of a hacker can learn how the software draws its metrics and game it."multitasking"? Make sure there is activity on each line of communication at least every x minutes. "data entry speed"? enter sparse data where optional.

Corporate HR is broken (4, Insightful)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935523)

As a manager that has needed to hire technical employees AND also an unemployed technical worker desperately looking for a job, I have seen both sides of the hiring process - and I can say without question that it is completely broken. The recruiters have no idea what skills are needed or how to match a technical job description to a technical resume. HR believes that they need to use systems like Taleo, Kenexa, Brassring, etc to collect a huge amount of data from every candidate - and that data is not used by *anyone*. Why does the company need to know the phone number of the boss I had in 1991 *before* I have even gone through the first screening? It is a huge waste of time for the candidates and useless collection of data. Meanwhile, the thousands of 3rd party recruiters are copying and reposting job descriptions all over the internet, so that 1 job opening at 1 company results in hundreds of job posts at Dice, Indeed, Monster, etc. The hiring manager is often not allowed work with recruiters he knows can provide good candidates - he can only consider candidates provided by the "approved" recruiters that have an agreement in place with the HR department. The result of all this nonsense is that the HR department is buried in useless data from unqualified candidates, the hiring manager sees a tiny percentage of the total candidates, the vast majority of the resume the hiring manager does see are NOT a good fit, and your hours of work to craft a resume and complete the online application data entry ultimately goes absolutely nowhere.

The entire HR recruiting process is designed to be a filtering process. They are not looking for the best candidate, they are looking for a reason to NOT hire each candidate. If your resume makes it through all the filter screens, then they assume you must be the best candidate. This is a critical concept - it means that if you are looking for a job, your primary goal should be to NOT be excluded. You need to get past the key word match filters, past the simulators, past the technical tests, past the personality tests, past the phone screens and finally past the in-person interviews. If your resume is still in the stack, you will probably get the job offer - but at any step you could be stopped and excluded from the rest of the process. You MUST think about this on every job you apply for - know what step you at, and try to figure out how to survive the current step's screen.

There has to be a better way!!!

     

Re:Corporate HR is broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38935837)

There has to be a better way!!!

   

There is - it's called "working at a smaller company where they don't have HR droids".

The sound of rejoicing ... (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935557)

... is heard from moms' basements around the world.

Kobayashi Maru (2)

at.drinian (1180281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935611)

Well, it worked for Kirk...

Let's face it... (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38935667)

For a lot of jobs, this is all the consideration it's worth. Call centers, clerks at most chain stores, someone moving pieces of paper around an office, you just need a literate piece of meat in a chair. You don't need an outside the box thinker or a cunning strategist, or even anyone with training in any special field. You need a warm body who can follow a flow chart and count. A game can figure that out better and faster than a human being.

Not your job of course. You were hand picked from the billions of people on earth to be the one special person who does your job and are irreplaceable.

So, game the simulation... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936187)

and your'e hired! Well, it's a kind on intelligence test, I guess - for cheating. You'll filter out all but the best cheaters. Yup, that's the kind of company I/i want to work for

Dell and other call centers... (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936559)

Dell is well known for having done this for several years. I did a call simulation and testing routine when interviewing with them about 7 years ago. The Microsoft brain teasers were legendary when they became common knowledge 12 or so years ago. Both are methods of accomplishing a variety of different hiring criteria.

First, every company hiring for some form of technical position has a legitimate business need for assessing both a potential employee's current intellect and their learning curve, but testing these things directly will run one afoul of the law. Second, simulations of real world job situations not only give you a baseline of their ability to perform the job, but completion times and such demonstrate how trainable, motivated, and focused someone can be when given monotonous but business critical tasks. You put 30 people in a room (as Dell did) and have them do a series of tests which concludes with a vocational simulation, would you really want to hire the guys who finished last versus first given equivalent execution scores.

So, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936857)

evaluating an employee's personality mesh goes out the window and we get to work with even MORE assholes?

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