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Behavioral Interviews for New Hires?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the corporations-work-in-mysterious-ways dept.

396

banetbi asks: "I am a PHP developer and FreeBSD administrator, and have been looking for a new job for a couple of months. Finally, I got a call back from a company, but they want me to take an on-line questionnaire before I come in for an interview. After doing some research I found the company that makes the test and checked out their website. It looks like this is some sort of personality test (they call it an artificially intelligent behavioral analysis). What does my personality have to do with my ability to perform in a job? Have any of you had to take a personality test to get a job? Should I do it, or just keep looking?"

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Your personality is tested *regardless*... (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166075)


What does my personality have to do with my ability to perform in a job?

Don't want to be insulting here, but the fact that you even need to ask that question shows that you need work in this area.

Even if all you do all day is sit at your desk and churn out code, you will have to interact with your other employees and your employer at some point or other. Your personality is a part of you that they will have to deal with, and it's no wonder that your prospective employers would like to know what they're getting. Given the choice between two technically equivalent candidates, if one has a cheerful, helpful personality, while the other has a withdrawn, antisocial one, who do you think they're going to go with?

Have any of you had to take a personality test to get a job?

Yes, I've had to take one for every single job I've ever held. They were called interviews .

While I'm sure you'll be interviewed as well, I think they're just trying to cull out some of the undesirable personality types in advance via this test, just as they cull out the unfit applicants in advance by examining resumes and applications.

Should I do it, or just keep looking?

As I said above, your personality will be tested sooner or later...if not by an actual test, then by the interviewer during the interview.

Personally, I'd much rather take the test...it's probably far easier than answering that damned question, 'What do you regard as your greatest weakness?' during the interview...

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (4, Insightful)

Sad Loser (625938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166184)

Behavioural interviewing is a very dodgy 'science'. It is based on the premise that if you ask someone what they would do in a certain situation, then assess their reply. Obviously there may well be a difference between what they say they would do, and what they would do.

Behavioural interviewing has been seized on by HR people as being somehow more valid than any other technique. There is no evidence to support this, and it is more likely that they are just clutching at the nearest pseudo-scientific theory to fill the inner emptiness in their lives.

It is probably more likely that the on-line test is just a Myers Briggs type test where they are looking at Introvert/Extrovert/ Thinking/Feeling/ Perceiving/Judging scales. In this case, don't worry. They still can't tell that you are a dangerous psychopath.

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (1)

scotch51 (108624) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166373)

There is no such thing as "equally qualified." By virtue of reading /. you are clearly way above any candidate who does not. ;-)

However the employer is bigger than you are. You won't ge the job unless you take the %@#%$@#$%@ test. Whether you wish to work for a company that requires this BS, or not is up to you.

Recently took one for a job opening where the skill and personality match were pretty solid. Never heard back from them.

Guess that means I'm... well nevermind that.

Try this: Agree to take the test but require that they give you a copy of your results. That way at least you won't be listening the the phone not ringing.

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (1)

charlesnw (843045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166532)

They still can't tell that you are a dangerous psychopath.
And we all know that /. readers are all secretly dangerous psychopaths :)

"Behavioural" questions at an interview (5, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166605)

I'm not in HR, I have a senior technical role, but I give a fair number of interviews - I'm averaging 1 a week at the moment. I've been on the company course to understand what a good interview consists of, and it was worthwhile doing that course...

Two things:

1) "Behavioural questions" are supposed to be based on past experience, not made-up scenarios, eg: "Tell me about a time when you had to give negative feedback to your direct superior". Another example "Walk me through a time when you were working on a small team, and the team disagreed with your ideas". The idea is that there are several ways each of those questions can be taken (mainly because they're challenging situations), and the way in which the candidate chooses to perceive the question is just as much a guide to their character as the actions they claim to take. I always ask at least one question like the above, and the range of answers is quite remarkable...

2) There is no way on this good earth I will recommend anyone who I feel will be disruptive to the team I work within, unless they (a) walk on water, *and* (b) telecommute a lot. Ok, hyperbole aside, the morale of the team is one of the most crucial parts of software development - I want people who go the extra distance when needed (and only when needed, because to *need* that is indicative of a failure somewhere else, probably on my part...); I want smart, motivated, excellent-at-what-they-do engineers and QA. I take the time and effort to build a cohesive team with both a "we can do this" (backed up with some data...) and a "we *want* to do this" attitude, and I don't want Joe Random Nobody upsetting that.

Simon.

Re:"Behavioural" questions at an interview (2, Interesting)

nbvb (32836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166782)

+50,000 moderator points, you're right on the money here.

The Behavioral questions tell me more about the person than how they compiled a module into Apache. Who cares? I need someone I can -work- with. I can teach the technical things, but I'm not Pavlov.

In all seriousness, I look for two things in candidates: 1) Will you fit with my team; and 2) Did you lie on your resume? If it's on your resume, expect questions about it. You should've seen the face on the guy who claimed to have built a Beowulf cluster (seriously.) When I started asking questions about interconnects and latency, he clammed up and admitted to having installed some Linux flavor or another (which one doesn't matter), but not really -doing- anything.

Just don't lie to me. It's OK to tell me you don't know something, but don't claim to be an expert in it on your resume. :)

Re:"Behavioural" questions at an interview (2, Insightful)

bkeeler (29897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167019)

I'm not a fan of questions like "Tell me about a time when you were challeneged and overcame it", or "Where do you plan to be in five years?" I don't think they tell you all that much about a candidate, and what you do learn can be misleading.

For starters, those questions are very common in interviews. People that answer them well have either prepared and rehearsed stock answers for them, or they've had a lot of practice being interviewed.

If they're the well-prepared type, well that's not bad in itself of course, but their answers don't tell you much about how they would handle a spontaneous, real-world situation.

If they're the well-practiced type, of course you have to ask yourself why they've been interviewed so much. Either they job-hop a lot, or they don't get many offers, and you tell which by looking at their resume.

Personally, for a coding position, I'd rather sit down with them, put some code on the screen, explain what needs to be done to it and see how they go about it. We pair-program at my company, so seeing how people fare in a pair-programming role is exactly what we need to know.

Re:"Behavioural" questions at an interview (3, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167123)

When you come to interview with us, you'll get a day's worth of first-round interviews (between 5 and 8 in total) with a variety of different types of interviewer. Whereas I *can* ask the start-off-simple-and-drill-down technical questions, there are others whose job it is to ask that. Mine is normally to assess the character of the candidate - every interviewer has a particular role to play in our process.

I deliberately didn't give many examples of what I ask - and I tend to ask a lot of questions in an hour's interview - because as you say, there are those who prepare answers. Part of the course I went on was to help me come up with a set of my own questions that won't be typical outside my company, another part was how to deal with obviously-prepared candidates...

I personally think a candidate gets a fairly gruelling day, and if (s)he succeeds, there is the (harder) 2nd-round to look forward to, with fewer but far more in-depth interviews. All the interviewers compare notes at the end of the day for every candidate (on 1st and 2nd round interviews), and I think it would be hard for anyone to maintain a faux personality over that entire day, with different people asking similar but differently-focussed questions.

Simon.

Re:"Behavioural" questions at an interview (1)

Associate (317603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167297)

Last interview I had, the hiring manager didn't really ask me many questions. I tried to ask a few without appearing to lead the interview. But this kinda left me in limbo as I had nothing to react to. Any suggestions for me, the interviewe?

Re:"Behavioural" questions at an interview (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15167359)

"RAH RAH RAH! GO TEAM GO!........ahhhhhhhh FUCK YOU!"

Yea, thanks....

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (2, Insightful)

Agripa (139780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166726)

Behavioral interviewing has been seized on by HR people as being somehow more valid than any other technique.

It would be more accurate to say any other technique legally available. The use of tests to gauge the performance of prospective employees has a long legal history. In general, tests that are specific to the job have been deemed acceptable but tests of a more general nature are not mostly because of discrimination issues. I suspect the HR people are using the tools available to them rather then picking the ones they might prefer under other circumstances.

Re: myers briggs discrimination? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15167027)

In my experience the typical 'software engineer' is INTJ (clean desk) or INTP (messy desks), and 'tech leads' are usually ENTJ/ENTP (though more often ENTP). So what happens when management (typically ISTJ/ESTJ) or HR (typically INFJ/ENFJ) predecides your fate based upon the arbitrary score you got on a given day? "We're looking for at least 80% 'Thinking' here; but this candidate only scored 75%. Should I send him the rejection letter?" or "This guy applied for the tech lead position, but his score indicates that he's just a regular engineer."

I'm an INFP. I interview well, I get along with anybody, I learn very quickly, I'm a good teacher and leader, I'm a great problem solver, I think outside the box like nobody's business, and I'm really good at analyzing large systems. But if someone only looks at my myers-briggs score and they have a predefined notion of what scores you're supposed to have for a given position, they'll probably assume I'm unqualified to be a software engineer, let alone a tech lead.

Perhaps the submitter is in a similar predicament and doesn't want to be judged only on his or her personality type. Besides, don't we already have laws preventing companies from making open call for applications but secretly discriminate based on age, race, gender, religion, political affiliation, level of physical disability, etc? I don't see myers briggs type as being any different from those, and I don't think it should be legal to include it in the hiring process. (Note: I'd feel really bad if I found out that I got a job because some affirmative action rule said they needed more INFPs.)

On the other hand, I really wouldn't mind if they had a way to screen out the whiners, deadbeats, loudmouths, pranksters, people that feel the need to make more than a dozen puns every day at lunch, Mac users, and anyone with a /. UID below 10,000. Ok, just kidding on those last two. Honest! :-)

Re: myers briggs discrimination? (2, Funny)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167221)

anyone with a /. UID below 10,000/i.

Damn! So close... Oh well, back to doll queue....

Simon

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (2, Insightful)

MrCool80s (243383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167050)

Agreed, this 'science' is very subjective and given too much weight. However it is fast becoming a crutch. I believe the best 'compromise' is to require (get an agreement in writing) a full copy of the results and any and all analysis be provided to you no later than 3 business days after the company receives it...and before an on-site interview, if applicable. Assert also that you "look forward to discussing the results with either HR or the group manager".

In my experience, the technical people are fine with this, but HR balks, claiming "confidentiality". I asked them "How can the results of a test taken by me, about me, for the analysis and presumed betterment of myself be confidential _from_ me?" I can appreciate these things cost money, but I thought they wanted to invest in me as an employee. Anyway, the tech people were understanding, but the HR people decided it was "time to part ways".

As long is one is not an employee, one has a choice not to take it. I believe that if the "tool" is really foir improvement and not a weeding-out crutch, they could just have waited until hiring and required it.

Always remember that HR is not there to benefit you, they are there to protect the company, first.

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (4, Insightful)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167154)

Behavioural interviewing is a very dodgy 'science'. It is based on the premise that if you ask someone what they would do in a certain situation, then assess their reply. Obviously there may well be a difference between what they say they would do, and what they would do.

WHile a lot of what you say has been well though out, this statement is a perfect example of a major problem amoung hard science people in their view of psychology. It is like an astrologer who says they understand asstronomy because they know astrology. In short, it is a statement that, to those who know much about the field, contains within itself an admission of complete ignorance of the field, yet continues to judge that field from that stand of complete ignorance.

Testing does not always ask what someone would do. There is more to it than that. Often tests do ask what one will do, but what people don't realize is that many times the same essential questions are asked in different ways and the results are compared. If they are inconsistent, that can indicate the person is lying on the test or has ethical issues or perceives himself as being one kind of person when, in reality, he is not. A test can also ask people to pick which term out of 2 or 3 or more applies to them. One set of terms may make the person pick between compassion and logic. Another may make them pick between compassion and fairness. A few other questions with choices like that, when put together can tell that the testee THINKS they value logic over compassion and passion, but may show that they are more likely to react passionately than logically.

I've seen that many times here, on ./, where most people think they know logic and have a better grasp of it than others, but if you challenge a point they don't want to know is weak, sometimes you'll get a vicious attack that is written up as a logical argument, but instead focuses on name calling and other ad hominem attacks. That is a case of someone who thinks he is strong on logic, yet does not realize how much passion blinds him to it and does not realize just how strong his emotions are. Testing can be invaluable in finding such people that claim to funciton logically and do well in teams, but who, in reality, may have ego problems that make them poor team players and unresponsive to logic on some topics.

And to the point where a person may say they will do one thing but, in reality would do another -- did you think that a person who has several degrees in a science that studies human behavior (you don't see tests with credibility designed by someone with a B.S. only) and who has spent years in that field would not know this little detail you are sure of? Do you give psychologists credit for that little intelligence? Serioulsy -- think about it. It's to their benefit, when you're being tested, that you do not see beyond that. Tests are often designed to show what you say you'll do, yet also tell the evaluator what you'll really do.

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (3, Interesting)

bhsurfer (539137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166324)

My company routinely gives personality tests to all new sales applicants. I suspect they use it more to corroborate impressions from interviews than as an actual "pass/fail" kind of thing - the two work together in tandem.

I was given one during some management training I attended and found it to be not only somewhat interesting but also informative about the other people I was with. I was pretty suprised to see how closely the results matched the predictions. We were given the test and then given the descriptions of the 4 core areas of this test. Then before we got our scores we took turns trying to predict what each other's scores would be. It struck me as a *fairly* accurate measure - nothing to get too bent out of shape about but closer than a 45 minute interview would be.

Another potential positive about taking a test like this is that it could indicate potential to your employers that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to see. If you're working in a cube all day and your bosses boss never sees you then they might not know that you're "a born problem-solver" or "a natural leader" since they never interact with you. Keep in mind that there's room for lots of different personality styles in a business, so there's nothing wrong with being "on record" as having a particular style. Successful people have lots of different personality traits - it's not like there's only one way to do things...

TMM's remark about interviews being personality tests is also 100% correct in my opinion.

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166407)

if one has a cheerful, helpful personality, while the other has a withdrawn, antisocial one

What if you're both? I'm someone who mostly keeps to himself during the day. I don't go around shooting the shit with co-workers, I don't attend going away parties, etc... However, whenever someone comes to me with a problem/question, I'm always helpful and nice. I even do the Dale Carnegie routine of asking them about themselves during downtime (waiting for a file to d/l or for a computer to reboot). I never have a problem putting down my work to help someone either.

In an in-person interview (or phone interview), while I'm probably going to be nervous, my communication skills and my genial personality will still show through but I'm worried how a test would rank me. Would I show up as an anti-social person? Would I wind up looking like Milton from Office Space on paper even though I'm actually nothing like that?

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166652)

I sat in a gatekeeper meeting for prospective new employees at my company. One of the candidates - who had reached the point of an on-site interview - might have done well during his interviews (I don't know). But at the top of his report were general comments from his "host" during his day on-site. They included that he made several disparaging remarks about women, and that he expressed the opinion that the best way to get a raise was to jump from job to job.

His actual interview results were not read by anyone in the room; he was put in the 'reject' stack and got the form letter.

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (4, Informative)

disappear (21915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167011)

he expressed the opinion that the best way to get a raise was to jump from job to job

Now, mentioning that while interviewing is in bad taste, but it's actually pretty [informationweek.com] well [careerjournal.com] established [techwr-l.com] that job-hopping increases salaries. (Yes, those reports are essentially anecdotal; I'm unable to find the survey that report similar results right at the moment, but I recall that they're out there.

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167144)

Matches my experience as well- I can get a 2-3% raise per year by staying at one job. When I jumped, I got a 15% raise. Thats not counting stock and signing bonus.

That said, in my mind there's other reasons to stay at a job. And I wouldn't jump every year even if I got a 15% raise each time, pretty soon you get unhirable as someone who won't stay long term.

Not just about interpersonal skills or morals (1)

spun (1352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166743)

I have had to take several of these types of tests. Some are designed to catch certain types of immoral behavior by asking what you would do in a given situation, and what you believe others would do. In general, people actually do what they think others would do, so if you answer that you think everyone steals office supplies, you are admitting to stealing office supplies.

The other type is like the Myers-Briggs test, and is designed to see if you are a good fit for the job. We don't want to stick introverts in sales positions, nor extroverts in a tiny cubicle coding all day long and never talking to anyone.

Re:Not just about interpersonal skills or morals (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166972)

The problem with the MBTI is that your type is whatever you say it is, regardless of your test results. I think if I were asked by my employer to take an MBTI and the job was something that frowned upon INTJs for some reason (probably sales, as you said), I'd say my type was ESTP or something similarly gregarious. Even if you can't outright say "this is my type", you can research the sorts of questions being asked and reverse-engineer the test.

If I apply in the first place, it means I want the job (I wouldn't want sales, of course, as an INTJ), which probably means my personality is at least somewhat aligned. A personality test is hardly going to stand in the way of that.

Re:Your personality is tested *regardless*... (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166928)

Yes, I've had to take one for every single job I've ever held. They were called interviews .

While this attitude is generally correct, most outfits that put too much emphasis on this and too little on actual skill usually tend to slide into the quagmire of mediocrity.

There has to be a balance. Most brilliant people tend to have personality quirks and most people with "perfect fit personalities" tend to be mediocre.

The latter has been proven countless times by various psychological experiments.

We subconciously tend to like the "golden middle".

The following is an experiment which has been done many times with different sample sizes and test groups to the same effect. You give a test group of people some pictures of subjects where all but one have some characteristic visual trait like big nose or big ears or bushy brows. The one exemption is a morph where the bushy brows of subject A are diluted and toned down by the normal brows of all the rest. Similar for the sticking nose of subject B, pointy ears of subject C, etc. In nearly all cases the test group will point to the artificial "average" person as the most trusty looking and most attractive.

Setting a similar experiment with personalities is difficult because the deviations are much harder to quantify. Personally I have not seen publications regarding such experiments, but I am not a psychologist so there may be some. Still, I am pretty sure that if someone manages to formulate a statistically representative setup, the mediocre average personality is usually selected as "this will fit best" and "this is most attractive". Same as with the face morph.

You're asking us? (1)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167357)

What does my personality have to do with my ability to perform in a job?

Don't want to be insulting here, but the fact that you even need to ask that question shows that you need work in this area.

Should I do it, or just keep looking?

Actually, I found the submitters second question to be much more indicitive of the need for "work in this area". I, too, would prefer not to be insulting here but quite honestly if you are asking slashdot readership whether or not you should take the test, that doesn't bode extremely well for your independence and emotional maturity. "Should I do it?" is really a question that only you should answer. Asking a bunch of people who don't know really baffles me. You need to decide whether you truly object to this type of test and an employer that would make you go through this trial. I can tell you what I would do in that situation, but I have different values, economic situation, etc. than you do so my answer doesn't (or shouldn't, at least) mean jack shit to you.

Let me put it this way: if you decide not to go through with this on the basis of our advice and forfeit your chance at working for this company, and later you realize that joining them would have been a wonderful opportunity, who are you going to be upset with? Us, for telling you to turn away from this company? You, for believing that our advice was worth listening to? This decision is important and you shouldn't be so quick to abdicate responsibility over it to people you don't know. Simply put: you shouldn't need us to tell you how you feel about this (or anything else). And that's what this comes down to in the end: how will you feel working at a company that made you go through this?

GMD

fact of interviewing life these days. (5, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166085)

Behavioral and Personality Type tests are becoming almost standard for larger companies (read, ones that can afford them). Whether or not they add value is debatable, and whether you should "move on" obviously will be a personal choice. If it's a job you really want, you probably should consider taking it.

I don't consider these tests harmless, especially since many companies allow too much weight to the results. I wonder how many industry leaders today would get "passing" results.

All that said, if you're interested in what they're looking for and some info on why, and what you might do to improve your results visit this site [uwec.edu] .

For a perspective from the "hiring" side, you might want to look at this article [about.com] .

Also, here's an article [job-employment-guide.com] that describes what behavioral interviews/tests are. It claims (I won't agree or disagree):

..., behavior-based interviews are said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviews are only 10 percent predictive. They can help hiring managers get more objective information about a candidate's job-related skills, abilities, interest and motivation, and make more accurate hiring decision. Currently, 30 percent of all organizations are using behavioral interviews to some degree.

It's mostly voodoo garbage (no offense to voodoo practicers) but is a fact of life in the interviewing world.

Little to no value. (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166237)


You will filter out only the truly stupid with these tests and will be needlessly polluting the profiles of very talented people. These things tend to overinflate the value and/or severity of very normal variances in personality. So, you answer "I'd rather go to a museum than an amusement park," "I work best in quiet solitude" and "I enjoy hunting and fishing over canasta" and all of a sudden "candidate X is a sociopathic introvert with severe avoidance issues who can't work with other people and is possibly armed and dangerous."

The true sociopaths that you REALLY want to avoid, however, are generally smart enough to navigate these tests better than the people who write them. You could give them the Meyers-Briggs type/Keirsey temperment desired and they could answer the questions perfectly to hit it on the spot every time.

Not really (1)

GuloGulo (959533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166317)

"You could give them the Meyers-Briggs type/Keirsey temperment desired and they could answer the questions perfectly to hit it on the spot every time."

That would give them away. The very good tests include questions to gauge the accuracy of the answers. In your example, many of the tests would show the person being tested was deceitful.

Right. (4, Insightful)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166669)

Honestly, these tests aren't very long and having seen "real" results for whatever temperments, there's no way you could tell a "deceitful" person from an "honest" person if all the answers are the same. A truly deceitful person will fly under the radar because they know the test and know the answers.

Besides, the real problem here is taking something that is actually a relatively neutral analysis and making screening decisions based on the results. In the case of Meyers-Briggs, I'm an INTJ, so how do I compare to a ESFP?

The problem here isn't that the tests are useless, it's that the tests are designed for situations where there is no incentive to deliberately skew the results. If someone's financial livelihood depends on how they "look on paper," it for all reasonable intents invalidates the foundation of the test. Sure, people do the same thing in person, but the problem is relying on these results sight-unseen and giving any credence to the supposedly "objective" results as if it retains any scientific validity.

Re:Right. (1)

GuloGulo (959533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166888)

Okay, first I said the good tests, not this one.

Second, the MMPI for example is over 500 questions and takes in excess of four hours to complete.

"A truly deceitful person will fly under the radar because they know the test and know the answers."

This is very difficult. There are no correct answers for them to know.

You appear to be basing your understanding of these tests on the Meyers-Briggs, which, as you probably agree, is garbage in all it's variations.

There are, however, many other tests, such as the MMPI and TAT that are actually reasonably accurate.

I suggest you read a little more about them. You'll find what I'm saying is true, and some of the tests are genuinely amazing in their descriptive ability.

As to this particular test, I haven't seen it, but it's most probably useless, as the very good tests require extensive training for administration and scoring.

Admittedly... (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167060)

...most of the ones I've seen "in the wild" are of the b.s. variety. But, by "knowing the answers" and there not being any "correct" ones, well, that's the point. However, there _are_ answers that together will generate a particular result and for the b.s. tests that seem to be in use (probably because they're cheap and short enough that people will put up with them), there are pretty obvious categories of people that they're looking for.

I got tired of one particularly horrible one years ago that was just insultingly obvious--of the "if you know your second cousin twice removed in another state is stealing pencils, do you call the police?" So, I started giving totally "ethical" responses to everything, which oddly enough weren't far from the truth--that is, "no, it's none of my business, let karma sort it out." When I "failed" the test, I confronted the yahoo who "interpreted" the results and asked him point blank, would you really want the psychotic nutjob this test considers "honest?" He agreed and dug up the phone number of the quack who wrote the test.

Re:fact of interviewing life these days. (0, Offtopic)

ronfar (52216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166249)

People are always picking on Voodoo until Baron Saturday [wikipedia.org] takes them to school...

Re:fact of interviewing life these days. (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166891)

"It's mostly voodoo garbage (no offense to voodoo practicers) but is a fact of life in the interviewing world."

Not just voodoo garbage -- they also serve a very important purpose -- documented justification for not hiring someone. Many large companies use personality tests to help them avoid liability in case of a discrimination lawsuit. Lawsuit prevention seems to be a major function of HR departments at most firms I've worked with.

Well... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166115)

You could be one of those nutjobs that, well, posts on slashdot attacking the President for everything and anything he does, no matter what it is.

They would not want a single-minded fanatic working for them... they are better suited to work for the DNC and MoveOn.org (haven't they moved on yet?)

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166155)

I see you're another one of those poor saps who was suckered in by timecop's 'How To Be A Bad-Ass Slashdot Troll' correspondence course.

It's time to ask for your money back.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166238)

No, not really. I'm just trying to get the Lib's to blow their Mod points on useless posts like this and keep them away from the conservative ones. For the most part, it works nicely.

Sure, I've had to take such tests. (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166128)

It isn't a big deal -- it's important for a good employee to be able to play with others as well as make responsible decisions in stressful situations, and sometimes those tests can be an interesting addition to the interview process.

I find the tests quite entertaining, personally. :-)

Personality test you say? (4, Funny)

zephc (225327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166144)

Run, don't walk, out of there if they want you to take this 'personality test' [xenu.net]

Re:Personality test you say? (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166334)

Wow! They said I'm highly qualified and exactly what they're looking for. All I need to do is pay a small fee to get more information. It's looking like I have a bright future with them!

Re:Personality test you say? (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167346)

You may be closer than you think. The combination of the words/phrases "executive" and "personality test", sets off Scientology alarms.

Hell yes you should take it... (0)

RedOregon (161027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166147)

...if you even want half a chance at getting the job. If you're a bunghole, you're going to negatively affect the company in one way or the other. Only way the company is going to hire you is if you do even halfway well at the test. Doesn't really matter what the job is, your personality *will* affect their company, so they would be remiss in *not* checking you out.

Personality test i took once. (1)

KarlH420 (532043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166180)

One time for a Job, they had a 100 question multiple choice personality test. I remeber the first question was asked by the interviewer.. Here are 7 colors on cards. Place the colored cards in the order you like. How that relates to a software engineering job I don't know. The other 100 multiple choice questions were all of the type that they were what would you do in this situation type question, with no right or wrong answer. I had never seen a test like this in an interview before, and was rather un prepared. Anyone know what they are looking for?

Re:Personality test i took once. (1)

boldtbanan (905468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166259)

That sort of test is illegal in America. They can't ask the 'if you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be' sort of questions. The fact that it's not legal doesn't mean it doesn't happen though.

Cite please, (2, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166466)

I feel you have pulled the content of your post out of you ass, and ask you to give a citation indcicating a law, or body of laws, or point to a webpage where I can further research the
validity of your claim.

I think you are (1) wrong (2) full of shit (3) stupid as hell or (4) all of the above.

Illegal? Hardly... (4, Insightful)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166498)

The only things that are illegal are those that reveal "protected class" status (e.g. race, sex, religion, handicap etc.) -- and even then, it's not illegal per se to ask, it is only illegal to actually screen people out based on that information. Obviously, someone seeking a lawsuit will have a pretty strong case just from the asking, but that only means it is well inadvisable to bring it up, not that it is illegal to do so.

So, those lists of "legal" questions you may see are merely recommendations of what you can ask and not risk litigation. That doesn't mean it is illegal to go beyond those questions, just that you're getting into unsafe territory. You could, say, ask someone "what do you do for fun on Sunday." That's not literally saying "are you a Christian," and the person might be a christian but say "I go to brunch," but they might well say "I sing in the choir at my church" and voila, you could now be accused of discrimination based on religion--even though you never actually asked about it directly. Similarly, you could try to be "safe" and ferret out recreational activity on Saturday but get smacked with "Oh, I go to temple." Voila, now you're potentially an anti-semite. The point of those guidelines is to avoid questions that will give anyone the opportunity to volunteer that information--but that isn't law, it's just good advice.

Re:Illegal? Hardly... (1)

boldtbanan (905468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167135)

My mistake. I thought I remembered being told this during some 'job search' stuff I had back in college. Apparently I was wrong.

Re:Personality test i took once. (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166420)

What are they looking for?

Honestly, you can't be sure.

I once saw an online test where they asked silly questions like, "Which of these two monkeys would win a fight," and "do you prefer sailing or waterskiing." The questions were dumb, but using a naive Bayesian classifier, they took the results and categorized the testers as male or female, with stunning accuracy.

If you asked the people who designed the test, they couldn't tell you why men were more likely to pick monkey X. All they know is that they do, and if you expose enough of these tendencies, the computer is very likely to figure you out.

They could be trying to determine anything: whether you're married, whether you have kids, whether you're likely to take orders or be stubborn. You just don't know.

One of your respondents claimed that such tests are illegal. I'm not sure. It's illegal to ask questions unrelated to job performance (like political affiliations), but if somebody could show that the results of such a test can predict your future success in the job, then a judge might take their side.

You gotta be kiddin' me QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166188)

What does my personality have to do with my ability to perform in a job?

I suggest asking your interviewer this question at each interview. I'm sure it will tip them off as to what an insightful potential employee they have on their hands. They'll be stunned at subtle, yet forthright, brilliant logic contained in the question.

Go, young man! Go! Go forth and spread the news that personality has nothing to do with performance on the job! The world awaits to be educated, the world awaits to be freed from the tyranny of its beliefs! Free at last! Free at last!

Pardon my tears of joy. I can't go on. Excuse me, please.

Say what you know they want to hear (4, Funny)

93,000 (150453) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166194)

If it's anything like the ones I've taken, the 'correct' response will be pretty obvious.

"What would you do if you found a coworker has been stealing office supplies?" (actual question)

Um . . . Ask for my cut as hush money? Tell him I could peddle his take on eBay? Reccomend a better style pen than the ones he's been stealing? Fall to the ground and play dead every time I see him? Spray-paint 'STICKYFINGERS!!' on his car?

So many choices.

That's not always easy. (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166809)

If it's anything like the ones I've taken, the 'correct' response will be pretty obvious.

"What would you do if you found a coworker has been stealing office supplies?" (actual question)


Not to be a snob or anything, but that's a pretty telling sign of a crappy job where you're untrusted, unskilled, and replaceable. That's a fast food / call center job quiz. We're talking about something a little more subtle where they're more interested in how well you play with others than whether you're a petty criminal.

The kind of personality tests for corporate office workers are more along the lines of Myers-Briggs tests [myersbriggs.org] and and color-ranking quizzes [colorquiz.com] than "don't do drugs; don't steal" tests. I don't trust these quizzes for two reasons:

1) They're not always accurate.

I vary strongly on E/I and J/P scales on a Myers-Briggs test depending on my mood, and with a little understanding of the categories, I can get any result I want. (Solid NT, though -- that part of the test is dead on, and it's extremely obvious in everything I say and do.)

The color test is just so much voodoo, in my opinion. However, since the system is totally opaque to the person being interviewed, you can't game it like you can a test that asks actual questions with recognizeable "right" and "wrong" answers. Similarly, there are all sorts of Bayesian-based tests with crazy questions that somehow tend to correlate to certain personality traits.

2) I don't trust my employer with the results.

Even if they were accurate, I see absolutely no reason to let my employer know anything about who I am beyond what I bring to work every day. Some of the tests purport to tell fears, points of anxiety, reasons for self-doubt, etc. If these results were true, then I don't trust my employers with that information. (I might trust my current boss with that info since we get along well, but I don't trust HR at all.)

Actually, it's even worse that they're frequently inaccurate. HR people who don't ever interact with you beyond an interview or some sort of legal difficulty will ardently believe the results to accurately measure you. What if your test says your intolerant or dishonest even if you're not?

I try to avoid these tests whenever I can. They inherently says that I can't be trusted as much as some scientifically-shaky questionaire since I could be a faker while these tests will reveal "the true me."

Re:Say what you know they want to hear (2, Funny)

digitalgiblet (530309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167208)

"What would you do if you found a coworker has been stealing office supplies?" (actual question)"

I think a good answer would be something like:

"I would gouge his eyes from their sockets with the very pens he was stealing, then rip off his testicles with the staple-remover he was stealing and cut his heart out with the letter opener he was stealing. Such traitorous acts to the beloved mother company can NEVER be tolerated!"

Unless I was trying to get a job at Enron or Arthur Anderson (the list goes on and on and on), in which case it would be something like:

"I would destroy all evidence as a matter of course."

Problem with personality/honesty testing (4, Insightful)

GodaiYuhsaku (543082) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166202)

I used to work as a temp in a company that made entry/promotional tests for various civil service positions. He was an I/O Psych Doctorate and one time he asked me and the grad students working there, "What is wrong with tests that tests honesty?" Which I at least consider similar to these personality tests. I answered correctly. "People lie." Honesty tests and personality tests both have the same problem. I know your testing me. And since the answers are usualy so vague. Its just a matter of me picking the answers you want to hear. I don't think i've ever lied personally but its the flaw of the tests themselves.

Re:Problem with personality/honesty testing (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166277)

And since the answers are usualy so vague. Its just a matter of me picking the answers you want to hear.

A well designed test doesn't have answers so obvious that you can't tell "what they want to hear". The options are all reasonable options that reasonable people could choose. In fact, the "obvious" questions are sometimes test questions to see if you're trying to gum up the works. A question that to answer honestly is negative (e.g., "have you ever left early"), but that everyone whose honest would have to answer in the negative way.

Re:Problem with personality/honesty testing (1)

GodaiYuhsaku (543082) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167157)

Alot of the questions i've sen have been on the 5 scale Strongly Disagree Disagree N/A or neutral, Agree, Strongly Agree Or some scale where you agree and disagree but some strength. So even if i have left work more often then not i wouldn't answer strongly agree. I'd agree. So its a matter of picking a believable answer. Maybe i just have a skewed view on these tests which is possible since i had a bad run of job interviews. Though i think two answers i had on one of these personality tests were fairly funny. Q: "How do you handle change?" A: "I handle it fairly well, after all everything changes, except static variables." Q: "Why should we hire you?" (Closing question) A: "Because I said so.... (Start BSing about how i'm the qualified for the position)'

Re:Problem with personality/honesty testing (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167177)

Erm, yeah.

I guess if you're too stupid to figure that one out you'll probably not do a very good job at embellishing the truth on the other questions. ;-)

Q: How many people have you killed?
A: 1) None (of course!). 2) One. 3) Not many. 4) Lost count.

Thinking deeply... I think I'll go with 2), that way I seem more honest.

Use of these tests (1)

Jumbo Jimbo (828571) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166206)

I have some experience with these tests. On the whole, they aren't used to screen out employees, but to flag up points of weakness.

For example, if your test responses indicate you prefer working as part of a team, in an interview the employer may ask you how you would cope if you have to work independently at a client's place of work.

Although I do have my doubts about them, they are meant to help eliminate some of the elements of interviews and selection where humans can be fallible - such as making decisions based on first impressions, I have read many times that decisions are often influenced by your first 2 / 8 / 120 seconds of an interview. However, it's still possible for employers to use these irresonsibly and just use them as a blanket screening process.

Back to your question - should you look for something else? Well, these tests are pretty common nowadays, and I think your decision should be based on other aspects of the company - if you like them, the people who interview, and the work environment.

Personality on the job (1)

nekoniku (183821) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166213)

What does my personality have to do with my ability to perform in a job?

Not a thing; however, it does have something to do with how well you'll fit in the culture there. Whether these tests reveal anything worthwhile is questionable, IMO.

What I find much more offensive are drug screening tests before being hired, because of privacy issues.

I'll take it (3, Funny)

alta (1263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166260)

Give me the login info for the test, I'll take it for you, since you obviously have a problem taking it.

How important is the test? (1)

monkman (171965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166269)

If the results are so important to them, they should be willing to give you a copy. That way you can try to improve any weaknesses it finds.

And since you are going to be working with others in the company, you should be able to get the results of their tests, too. It will help your team operate more effectively.

If they don't agree with that, why are they insisting on the test? And do you really want to work there?

I took one for my current job (2, Interesting)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166274)

It's funny, I looked at it (they gave me the test before my "live" interview, and handed me the results when I left) and it said some fairly negative things about me (loner, needs his hand held when given new tasks, tendency to run with scissors ;-). I still got the job though. I've only been here a couple of days, but things are going pretty well and my boss seems quite happy with my work (more like my comprehension of what my work will involve when we finally get something I was hired to do).

My advice? Go ahead and take the test. Techies aren't hired for their personality, so if you've got a proven track record a test shouldn't affect your chances one way or the other. OTOH, if this is your first or second job, then a test might carry more weight (since they've got little else to go on).

Re:I took one for my current job (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167158)

...it said some fairly negative things about me (loner, needs his hand held when given new tasks, tendency to run with scissors ;-).

If you're going to work alone, rather than on a team, being a loner isn't a bad thing; it may be good. Needing your hand held may be bad, but not if your supervisor likes teaching because this gives him more chances to do what he likes. Either that, or he's a micro-manager, in which case, watch out! The last just shows you're enthusiastic, but can get carried away. Again, a good manager can keep you under control, so that's not too bad.

Motivated candidates? (1)

d_p (63654) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166279)

The biggest problem I have found interviewing candidates for sysadmin jobs is determining who is going to be motivated to learn on their own and take ownership of systems. I have had trouble before with employees that need to be told what to do and constantly supervised to make sure they complete a project.

Does anyone have any ideas for screening these kinds of traits? What kind of questions would you ask during an interview, beyond technical questions?

Re:Motivated candidates? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166553)

What I've tried (with some success) is to ask about things that are tangetially related to their work experience, but not actually necessary to get things done. I generally aim for things that they should have at least heard of.

The more inquisitive types will have looked into it at least a little bit, and at a minimum be able to give you a loose description of it. Some will even have quite a bit of detail. Failing that, you'll get a response of "I've heard that's good for blah, I've been meaning to check that out."

Obviously don't just do it with one tech, try a few different ones.

And for people being interviewed, the biggest thing that I've learned from asking the questions is that many of the questions being asked of you are not asked for the most obvious reason.

Eg: When I interview people who have worked with various unixes, I ask them which one they prefer. I don't actually care which one they like better. It's a set up for the next question, which is why do you like that one better? And that answer tells me all sorts of stuff. "Because I'm much more familiar with it." is an acceptable answer to me. I learn about what they value in an OS, as well as what they might or might not understand about what is actually different between them.

Nuff rambling. HTH.

Re:Motivated candidates? (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166775)

I ask them about out-of-office activities, since those projects are the ones where successful completion depends on self-control, not on direct and constant supervision. If they believably demonstrate that they successfully complete projects on their own, then it is likely that will carry into the office.

Big Five Personality tests (1)

Mercuria (145621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166283)

I don't know which personality test they're having you do, but at least one has been shown to have psychometic value -- the "big five", which has dimensions of extraversion, neuroticism, Openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. google scholar for "big five personality". if you score high on neuroticism and/or low on concientiousness, studies would indicate that you're not going to be a great employee. the others can have an impact depending on what you do (i.e., salespeople with high extraversion scores tend to do better than less extraverted ones), but generally aren't conclusive about performance across the board.

I have no problem with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166329)

The company I work for consists of about 30 people right now, and we use these tests, too. Everyone already employed was asked to take one so a baseline could be established, and now it's part of the interview process.

It's nice to have an idea of whether someone will fit in or not before they actually start the job. Someone can have a spectacular resume and know how to sell themselves in an interview, and then turn out to be a complete prick that everyone dislikes when they actually start the job. Personally, I'd hate to waste time training a guy only to find out that he got fired because he turned out to be an ass. In the years I've been with this company, we have had two people like that.

Spoof it (3, Interesting)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166341)

1) Research the test. Find the "right" answers. (yes, they exist)

2) Out-doublethink them, answer in a way that seems polite, co-operative and not too self impressed.

3) NEVER NEVER use the "Stronlgy agree" or "Strongly disagree" answers, unlessit's an obvious trap

I have a degree in psych, was married to a shrink and have done graduate work in this area. It's all about as accurate as a horoscope, just anothe way to one-up you before they slip on the harness.

I'd use such a test if I were an employer (3, Funny)

CrosbieFitch (694308) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166350)

I'd use such a test if I were an employer.

I'd reject all candidates that submitted themselves to it.

Re:I'd use such a test if I were an employer (1)

screenrc (670781) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166789)

Yes, you are correct to reject those who
willing to spend their time to answer 100 mostly
unrelated questions. Most competent persons
will laugh at you if you ask them to do this
or that just to make it to the interview.

some things to think about (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166352)

First of all, personality tests are well debunked in the scientific literature, and they are also easy to beat.

So the first thing this tells you about the company, right off the bat, is that their HR department will be filled with incompetent losers. Are you going to work in the HR department? Will you spend a lot of time working with the HR department?

Personally, I hardly ever deal with HR after the first 3 days at a job. So I hardly care if they're incompetent losers, as long as they are just competent enough for me to get paid. So for me, having to take one of these tests doesn't typically tell me anything too worrying about the company. If someone remarks, 'the personality tests were the CEO's idea, he's a really big proponent' then I might worry and consider skipping on to look at another job.

Since personality tests are easy to beat, if i'm interested in the job, I'll just take and pass the personality test. The real personality test is always going to be the in-person interview anyway, that's when you'll find out if you are a good fit for the team you'll be working with, and if the team is a good fit for you.

So my bottom line: try to evaluate as neutrally as possible just what exactly the company wanting you to take this test really says about the company, and the people you'll be working with.

new hires whats? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166384)

The article title makes no sense. New hires whats? Is this about some new graphics card or monitor or imaging format or something? And what does that have to do with behavior?!?

It tells you about their culture (1, Informative)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166404)

The personality test tells you something about the company. Someone in a position of influence in HR got that instituted as a policy. I've only had one formal test like that. It was the only job I ever interviewed for that I didn't get. I'm making twice what they paid in the first job I got after interviewing there, so it appears to have worked out ok. All of my other employers have been happy with me as a person and employee, so I don't know what the personality tests tell someone.

I primarily do system administration and development centric jobs. The thing that's interesting about the personality tests I had experience with in psychology class and my mom's masters thesis is that they do a decent job of rating specific traits, but it's not clear what any of those traits mean.

For example, I find myself having frequent personality shifts. When I'm asking our senior management about their business needs, I'm a follower. When I'm telling them about technical solutions, I'm a leader. I tell them no and correct their assumptions. They seem to like that I can be an expert in some things without being an arrogant prick in things I know less about. I enjoy working with people like that as well.

How a personality test would help is beyond me. In most cases, it's beyond the HR people too. Technical people are black and white for me. They can either do what they claim they can do or they can't. The computer will be the one to decide if their solution works, so it's pretty easy to evaluate them. The HR people live in a world that is all one shade of grey. Whether or not their personality test is helpful or detrimental can't be determined. If they apply it uniformly, the ones who would have been great employees but fail the test will be working somewhere else, so you don't know that. Likewise, if it gets rid of the people who are one TPS report cover sheet away from going postal, you won't know because it will just be some workplace shooting on the other side of town for all you know.

Every company has weird little things that don't make any sense. If you otherwise like the company, jump through their stupid hoops and see how it goes. If you wouldn't be inclined to work for them even if offerred the job, tell them that you find personality tests to be demeaning and are no longer interested in the position. If you think it's worth posting on ask slashdot, I'm thinking you're already disinclined to do it. Why not give them negative feedback in the process.

Re:It tells you about their culture (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166725)

"I'm making twice what they paid in the first job I got after interviewing there, so it appears to have worked out ok."
Not relevant at all. What you did after not getting that job isn't the question - the question is whether or not the person who did get the job (and - perhaps - whose answers they liked better) has worked out for the company better than you would have. Obviously, this question isn't going to be answered - as you later allude to.
"All of my other employers have been happy with me as a person and employee, so I don't know what the personality tests tell someone."
You don't even know that they didn't like you because of the personality test. The sample size of jobs you've applied for is so small that the fact that the one with the test you did not get is meaningless - that does not show that you didn't get the job because of the test.

"Technical people are black and white for me. They can either do what they claim they can do or they can't. The computer will be the one to decide if their solution works, so it's pretty easy to evaluate them."
I'm not entirely sure if I am following your line of thought here (feel free to correct me). Typically on a resume you'll see skills listed - while they may claim they have the technical skills needed for the job and they may have those skills even, they may not be able to do the job. Not because "the computer decides" (that's a pretty hokey statement you made there, btw) but because they may not work well with the larger group dynamic. Your statement seems like a gross-oversimplification of what is involved in a "technical job."

Although, you've chosen the incredibly broad "technical people" category to discuss, it may be true for some job in that category, for most it is not the case that technical skills either exist or don't.

Simple (1, Troll)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166422)

Should I do it, or just keep looking?

If you don't like the idea, keep looking. If you don't mind or don't care, take the test -- as long as you're not suicidal, homicidal, or bipolar you pretty much don't have anything to fear. From what you've said, it sounds like you're aiming for the former and not the latter. Just my 2 cents.

Not such a bad idea (1)

aimansmith (631702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166442)

In one of my previous companies, we usually interviewed just for personality. We would often rate people on personality first and skills second - the idea was that if someone seemed sharp, hard-working, and friendly, then we were likely to get a lot done with that person. If someone's resume says s/he's been a PHP programmer (to use your situation as an example) for X years (and that can be verified with previous employers), then you have to assume that s/he has a pretty good idea of what s/he's doing, and it's very unlikely that you're going to get much more of an idea of a person's skills from his/her interview. Of course, you want to weed out incompetent ones, but you can do that with a 10-minute tech session - after that it's near-impossible to get an accurate gauge of someone's skills. So, more often than not, you're really looking for someone whose personality "clicks" with the group. The only caveat I can think of is that, if you're going to administer this kind of test, you need to have administered the same test to everyone in the interviewee's potential group, and you need some way of predicting how well they'll all get along. Also, you need some variety in a group - groups without some diversity of personalities and styles are (IMHO) much less likely to succeed than groups with a mix of personalities and skills.

personality tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166587)

i applied at blockbuster and whole foods in texas and both locations required me to fill out a 30 page personality test at a kiosk before even getting contacted for an interview.

What I learned from Scott Peterson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166611)

You don't have to be a good person with a charming personality. You just have to lie well enough for others to believe that you are/do. It is the most devious sociopaths what will succeed the most in this world, resulting in them producing more offspring. The human race will evolve.

So, if your personality is being evaluated, imagine that Scott Peterson is interviewing for the same job as you. You'll need to come off as more charismatic than him. Use your intellect to determine which answers will make them think the best of you, and that's what you say. Practice your phony plastic smile in the mirror, until it can pass off as genuine. Stuff like that.

Give the answers they want (1)

proteus421 (308880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166629)

It is fairly easy to do well on these tests. Just like answering interview questions in general, any answer that is positive is good and any that is negative is bad. As part of the process for one interview, I had to answer two pages of questions that an HR rep read to me verbatum. When answering the first question, I noticed she was making notes based on certain things I said. By the end of the interview, I had her writing on command. ;) Silly HR departments. In the end, I removed myself from the interview process as this was just one of several things that gave me the impression the place was not for me.


If they are going to partially base employing you on some canned questions that are transparent, give them the answers they want. Of course, if the culture is such that they use such a test to judge you, the company may not be a good "personality" fit for you. :)

Re:Give the answers they want (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166834)

A well-designed test will not have the fallacy -- the purpose is not to determine whether you can select the "right" answer -- the purpose is to determine which right answer you'd select, and what insight that gives into how you would handle certain types of situations.

Any personality test with clear right/wrong answers is useless.

Company Culture (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166656)

Companies develope a certain culture over the years. Generally speaking, the higher ups want to keep that culture stable (culture changes would rock the boat and possibly reduce productivity). If they are trying to keep things stable, at the very least they won't want to hire someone who will conflict with the existing culture.

don't make this mistake (4, Funny)

eddeye (85134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166677)

This may just be to screen out the real whackos. Trust me, this is important. You don't want to hire a guy with all the technical skills who:

  • in the interview, puts his hand over his mouth every time he giggles
  • looks over his shoulder nervously every time you use the word 'security' and says you shouldn't be talking about this
  • after being hired by the clueless manager, does random exercises in his office "to quiet his head"
  • when given a half-day task, disappears into his office for a week (no one wanted to deal with him and it was low priority, so we let him be). when he comes out and you ask where the result is, he says "oh that. I didn't feel like working on that so I've been doing something completely different."
  • confides in a coworker that he's afraid one day some black suits from Raytheon (his former employer) will shove him into a van, drive him out to the desert, and put a bullet in his head
  • after finishing a week-long project with no overtime, says to the president of the company "boy that was tough. i need some time off." and promptly walks out of the office at 2pm on Wed without another word.
  • doesn't show up the next day. or the next. or the following Mon. finally Tues morning a coworker spots him in the breakroom getting coffee. asked where he's been for 3 days, he replies "riding my bike around town". when the coworker says "at least you're back", he responds "i'm not back, i'm just here getting coffee." then disappears for another two days.
  • one day you see him wearing a bright orange shirt and a snap cap. you say "boy, you look different today". he says "no, it's still me". takes off his hat. "see? it's still me."
  • doesn't show up early one morning when he's supposed to get a ride to an out-of-town conference with you. you wait and wait and finally decide to leave without him. as you're pulling out of the parking lot, you see him walking up. you shout his name. he sprints off down the street in the other direction. you catch up to him in your car and identify yourself. he says "oh i thought you were someone else." you say "let's go to the conference." he says "i can't go. i have to go home and shower." which he does.

all this during his probationary period and they still kept him on full-time. it wasn't til months later when the women in the office said they were seriously afraid of him that he was let go.

People with Personality (1)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166859)

Love that story. Here's mine (names removed to protect... well, I don't care, but I took 'em out anyway).

Back in the early '90s I am leading the team doing Windows drivers at a fabless semi. I need more resources. Several months before, we had a new hire, who did not report to me. Was working on SCO drivers, but had the technical expertise to help my group out.

He was temporarily assigned to my group. Needed a couple of days to clear the SCO work, so I gave him background documentation, and discussed the new work with him. Unfortunately, he did not really speak English, but was very good at nodding at the appropriate times, and saying "Yes, I get it. Yes, I understand."

I left it at that (give him a couple of days, and then touch base).

Now, it gets really bizarre. He was a paranoid schizophrenic. After reporting to me for two days, the hard drive on his SCO box crashed. He mumbled "I won't be needing this", threw his security badge at the admin, and left the building before lunch. He went to a local mall, and knifed someone to death.

Not guilty, insane.

Fast forward a couple of years. He is still collecting LTD. During a meeting discussing staffing for the dev on a new chip, the VP asked "What about xxx? Can't he do the Unix and SCO drivers?". "But he is in the insane asylum!". "That's ok, we can give him a computer, can't we? He is still on the payroll".

Personally, I prefer to work with sane and reasonable people (and, no, he wasn't given the work assignment).

Ratboy

Your right, its not fair (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166701)

But I mean, if your socially deviant, who wants to hire you? Unless you have an impressive CV and can easily demonstrate your exceptional in what you do, then don't question why an employeer expects you to fit a certain mold.

The bottom line is that the employeer has a right to hire whomever they want. While racial profiling would be far too much and would result in lawsuits, there is nothing inherently illegal about refusing to hire a person, and without cause either.

Even once a person is hired, there is generally few laws that prevent an employeer from firing you without cause, unless your unionized of course.

Love it or hate it, life isn't fair, and if your applying for a company that requires a personality test, look elsewhere. Chances are this company doesn't know their ass from a hole in the ground if they think someone with a nice personality is what they need in good employees. You probably don't want to work for that company anyways.

$0.02 (1)

crotherm (160925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166703)


I have to add my two cents here. I was asked to take one of these by some employment agency that my old company contracted to handled the people laid off due the dot bomb. As I went through it not only did it keep asking very similar question, but just reworded, it also was asked very personal questions as well. I felt like I was on the couch in a shrink's office. So I just started BSing the thing and it came back with a result that was almost the opposite of what I think I am. Either way, I would feel awkward enough to answer those questions in person to a shrink, there was no way I was going to do it to a computer. Next thing you know, the whole internet is busting your balls over the stupid crap you had to answer for some personality test...

sheesssh....

That said, if you really want the job, I would tell them that you would rather do the test in person. There is no way I would do it to a machine.

I had one of those ... (5, Funny)

Mr.Surly (253217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166736)

... It didn't go so well:

Interviewer: You're in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down...
Me: What one?
Interviewer: What?
Me: What desert?
Interviewer: It doesn't make any difference what desert, it's completely hypothetical.
Me: But, how come I'd be there?
Interviewer: 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...
Me: Tortoise? What's that?
Interviewer: You know what a turtle is?
Me: Of course!
Interviewer: Same thing.
Me: I've never seen a turtle. (pause) But I understand what you mean.
Interviewer: You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back, Leon.
Me: Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden? Or do they write 'em down for you?
Interviewer: 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.
Me: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I'M NOT HELPING?
Interviewer: I mean you're not helping! Why is that, Leon?
Interviewer: 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. (pause) Shall we continue?


It went down hill from there. Needless to say, I didn't get the job.

Personality (1)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166739)


What does my personality have to do with my ability to perform in a job?

Pretty much everything. Most employers take the position that they can train any reasonably skilled person to do the task at hand, as long as they can work with the existing team. OTOH, disruption to the work/team environment, no matter your skill level, can cause real target-missing problems and be fatal to a company if it's small or bad for the department if you're looking at a larger place.

Most HR-conducted interviews are 100% personality tests, since they pretty much don't have the knowledge to quiz you on technical matters. And most employers, even technical ones, don't bother to give you a technical interview. IME. That alone tells you the value that employers put on personality above technical ability.

Thank goodness (1)

Odocoileus (802272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166747)

I am also currently looking for a job. I always feel that I fail to communicate who it is that I really am. I really believe that I would be hired if I could just get them to see the true me. I have maintained a 4.0 in an attempt to demonstrate my potential, but I welcome any help I can get in the interview department. I hope these tests spread like wildfire.

They are good for yourself also (1)

RPGonAS400 (956583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166765)

I had to take one of these after I had an interview and was considered a good candidate. They emailed me the results the next day. I found it amazing how bang on the results were based on obscure questions. It showed what motivated me, what bugged me, how to get more work out me, etc. I am glad I took it just for my own sake.

Sample question (5, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166819)

...
24. Jack calls and says "DON'T TELL ANYONE I called. Just re-position the satellite" Do you:

a) Hang up on Jack
b) Call Division and give them Jack's location
c) Tell Edgar to do it
d) Re-position the satellite

Re:Sample question (2, Funny)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167098)

Edgar is dead

Hahahaha oh man (5, Insightful)

E. Edward Grey (815075) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166830)

What does my personality have to do with my ability to perform in a job?

Nothing at all, if you job doesn't ask you do do these things:

1. Be in the presence of people

2. Communicate with others

3. Be trusted with / near property which does not belong to you

4. Provide products or services to customers

5. Exist in the physical world of things and people

Screening for Cheerful Charlies, not Tech Skills (3, Insightful)

xjimhb (234034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166841)

Ran into this when they opened a new Best Buy near us, and I thought I might pick up a little extra money as a computer tech (mostly back-room work, minimal customer contact). They asked a few (very few) questions to establish tech skills, 90% of this on-line application was this behavioral crap, which I answered more or less honestly. I could see where the thing was aiming, though, looked like they wanted everyone in the store to be "Cheerful Charlies" to fit in.

When I went over to their interview site in a nearby mall and inquired, I was told that I had not been selected for an interview. If I wanted I could try again in thirty days (by which time the roster for the new store would be filled up, of course). I didn't bother.

I no longer shop at Worst Buy, certainly not for anything like a computer, since it is obvious they are NOT selecting their PC techs for technical skills, just their beaming and radiant personalities.

Mmmmm. Bitter. (1)

Mr.Surly (253217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166943)

"Worst Buy": My, what delicious satire.

Re:Screening for Cheerful Charlies, not Tech Skill (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15167086)

The funny thing about this post, is it shows that it's probably a good idea that you weren't given the job.

If they had hired you anyway, you would have mocked the "Cheerful Charlies" that worked there, and created a hostile working environment. You would likely have taken the opportunity to degrade the "less skilled" to customers at times, since you decry them so much.

Doesn't sound like someone I'd want to hire. I find it horrible that I'm no longer amazed at the lack of people skills in many technical people ... and their ingrained thinking that people skills are not required for what they are going to do.

Ask a friend of mine who has lost at least 3 jobs in the last year and a half because his people skills and cooperation abilities were sub-par. Companies don't hire people who can't communicate with customers and co-workers very well, and who have elitest attitudes. All the technical skills in the world are useless if you're difficult to work with.

Not a Behavioral Interview (1)

mdmarkus (522132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166915)

This doesn't sound like a behavioral interview, but just a personality test. In a behavioral interview, the interviewer asks questions that discuss actual past behavior of the interviewee rather than speculative questions or the dreaded "What kind of tree would you be?" That said, their website looks like they're a yes-man body-shop. Keep looking...

TPS reports (1)

pdxguy (726066) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167057)

If the person can get their TPS reports done and filed on time, they will be a success in their position.

I had one (3, Interesting)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167062)

However my test was after my interview and after they offered me the job. It was about 3 hours long and involed 5-6 tests with lots of questions on each. The shrink that gave the test also secretly tested my test instruction following abilities. He would give me the test, give me some superfluous info about the test, then slip in instructions to take the sample questions and stop. Stop was worded differently but the meaning was to stop and no go any further. Then he'd leave you for 15 minutes. The sample tests would only take a minute or 2 and you'd end up sitting there waiting for the guy thinking that you heard that you shouldn't go ahead with the test but questioning whether you're right or not. He'd come in after 15 minutes and pretend like nothing was going on and he'd instruct you to move on with the questions. I saw a small pin-hole camera in the wall behind an large office plant as I was leaving the test room after the test. I wondered if he was watching me but that confirmed it.

Ahhhhh! Snakes! (3, Funny)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167130)

Fans of Starship Troopers (the novel) may recall when Rico is undergoing his MI testing and there are both physical and psychological portions . I always liked the part where he says "I don't understand what they can learn about you from having a secretary jump up on her desk and yell 'Snake!'"

I'd like to see tests a little more along these lines. Like maybe in the middle of the interview, smoke starts coming under the conference room door, or the interviewer pretends to be having a stroke. Or both? Or perhaps someone runs by the room yelling "There's a maniac with an axe in the server room!"?

Re:Ahhhhh! Snakes! (1)

GodaiYuhsaku (543082) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167284)

Didn't they do that in ST:TNG?

Take the personality test. (1)

Random Guru 42 (687672) | more than 8 years ago | (#15167314)

A lot of software engineering textbooks these days have a bit in them about team dynamics and psychology, including how personalities can affect development in positive and negative ways. Taking a personality test can be useful for the company in figuring out who would work best together, allowing them to arrange teams that don't just have the needed knowledge and skills, but who also work well together. Doesn't the idea of having co-workers you can get along with sound great?

I'd advise take the test. Even if you don't get the job, you still get to know more about yourself.

DON'T TAKE THE TEST!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15167397)

For gawd's sakes man, don't take the test! You don't want to be a part of palce like that, not to mention that aspects of your personality will become part of some permanent database, to be later used for who knows what! Also, I'm a PHP developer and FreeBSD administrator, and also looking for a job, but I'm not personally concerned with who pays me or who knows about me!
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