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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Fight Usage Caps?

edcheevy Re:My Favourite Question Of All Time (353 comments)

Hah hah, reminds me of high school when a friend and I started a small web hosting company (pre dot com years). One night we received a frantic call from the local dial-up ISP where our server was co-located. Turns out one of our customers had started hosting some pretty tame stuff (mostly models in swim suits or underwear, but a few nudie pics) and it completely maxed our both our server and the ISP's bandwidth. It created an interesting legal situation given that the two web host owners were also minors - needless to say we had to turn off that user's account. Good times.

about a year ago
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Could Technology Create Modern-Day 'Leper Colonies'?

edcheevy Difference between the problem and the symptom (452 comments)

As an analyst, to me it's a question of data cleanliness. Yes, people should be able to look at the facts (i.e., crime rate) and route around a higher risk area if they so choose. Trouble is, there's a partial racial component driving those crime statistics (i.e., minorities more likely to be arrested) which probably inflates the "true" crime rates for those neighborhoods. If people are going to get all bent out of shape, they should do so up-stream. Tackle the issues that inject a racial element to crime statistics and leave the people looking for an objective measure of risk assessment alone - they're only using the best available data to make a decision.

Easier said than done of course...

about a year ago
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Feds Seek Prison For Man Who Taught How To Beat a Polygraph

edcheevy Re:Pseudoscience debunked? (374 comments)

No psychologist worth their salt puts any stock in polygraphs, it's law enforcement that loves them. Psych 101: a good test should be reliable and valid. Polygraphs do not meet the criteria.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is an Online Identity Important When Searching For Technical Jobs?

edcheevy It's a screen, not a selector (358 comments)

Unless you're applying for a job that requires security clearance (no presence might be good) or a marketing/PR/public-facing position (having a presence is good), it's really only going to be used to screen people out. If a Google search turns up a red flag about someone else with the same name, you might want to create a LinkedIn profile for yourself to SEO your results and easily distinguish yourself from your negative doppleganger. Recruiters are also using LI much more frequently now to look for talent, so it can't really hurt to have a profile. You might get some leads. Other than that though, there's not much reason to go out and create a presence just for your job search. It's only going to hurt you if you post something a recruiter or hiring manager doesn't like and you're not going to get many brownie points for a post they do like.

about a year ago
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Google Respins Its Hiring Process For World Class Employees

edcheevy Re:Big data works for hourly applicants (305 comments)

Sure, one question type we use a lot is the forced-choice dyad. For example, pick between "My friends say I'm a good teacher" and "The customer is always right" (they're not actually this obvious but you get the idea). #1 might be more predictive of success for tier 2 tech support agents, #2 for basic customer service. But they can vary from company to company, that's where the big data and the specific competencies required for success kick in. So while #1 may predict for most TS agents, at a company that is truly passionate about customer service #2 may still be the best predictor. No single question is going to make or break an applicant, but in aggregate and across many hires you get very real differences.

about a year ago
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Google Respins Its Hiring Process For World Class Employees

edcheevy Big data works for hourly applicants (305 comments)

I work on the pre-hiring screening tool validations at Evolv (full disclosure: Lazslo sits on Evolv's board). I am not at all surprised that silly tech interview questions predict next to nothing. What I can tell you is that validated personality and work-style questions absolutely do predict success among entry-level workers (and if you do it right, professional individual contributors). Like they touch on in the interview, a combination of a structured behavioral interview plus some simple personality screening can be a great screening tool, but you have to balance the raw "big data" results with practical, legal, and applicant experience concerns.

about a year ago
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Adobe's Creative Cloud Illustrates How the Cloud Costs You More

edcheevy Aka "business opportunity" (403 comments)

Company gets greedy, company raises prices, opportunities become more enticing for competitors. Sure it will take the market a little while to react, but if the vacuum at the reasonable end of the price spectrum creates more competition from paid or FOSS alternatives, I'm cool with that.

about a year ago
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Browser Choice May Affect Your Job Prospects

edcheevy Re:Loaded language? (374 comments)

Hi there, I'm an I/O psychologist at Evolv. To dispel a few myths and FUD:

  • - I absolutely agree there are a lot of HR folks & hiring managers out there who don't do a good job of using scientifically-based, job-relevant screening criteria. And no, simple correlations are not science.
  • - We don't actually score or weight every statistical relationship our marketing team mentions to the press :)
  • - Something like this wouldn't be used in isolation as a cut-off. Good selection systems use experience, work samples, appropriate personality & cognitive testing, relevant skills tests, behaviorally structured interviews, etc to come to a holistic hire/no-hire decision, and even then there are always allowances for people who don't fit the mold but who may still do a great job.
  • - The forums seemed to take this in an anti-M$ direction, but the finding is independent of OS. Installing a non-default browser on a Windows or an Apple machine is linked to positive post-hire outcomes. Having said that, there are many other predictors that are more job relevant.

Hope that helps!

about a year ago
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G2 Crowd Wants to Crowdsource Enterprise Software Reviews (Video)

edcheevy Re:Well, I wish him well (26 comments)

Ditto! The irony of not researching the viability of your software platform, which is designed to assess the viability of other software platforms, is a little too much.

about a year ago
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RSA: An Unusual Approach to User Authentication: Behavorial Biometrics (Video)

edcheevy About time (69 comments)

Bryan & Harter (1899) noticed telegraph operators could identify one another through rhythm and style, nice to see someone finally apply that! :-)

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/rev/6/4/345/

about a year and a half ago
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What To Do When an Advised BIOS Upgrade Is Bad?

edcheevy Name names (467 comments)

I generally exercise some degree of distrust towards computer manufacturer recommendations when my product is no longer under warranty and their legal team likely has them relatively well protected against your situation, but I'd definitely name names. Send a note to the Consumerist, find a few execs and contact them directly. It may be legal, but it's a dishonest approach for those companies to take. It doesn't cost you much time and energy to bring unwanted attention to the companies and that attention is sometimes enough to suddenly get your components replaced. It won't cause systematic change, but at least you're better off.

Not one to miss an opportunity for a car analogy: if a critical recall fix bricked your ride, I think most everyone would agree it is the manufacturer's responsibility to make things right even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Of course, there's obviously more regulation involved and a more direct correlation to physical safety in the case of cars (i.e., you are putting yourself at risk of bodily harm if you choose to disregard the recall fix).

about a year and a half ago
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Massachusetts May Soon Change How the Nation Dies

edcheevy Re:life insurance (439 comments)

I signed up for some term life insurance a few years back and the contract explicitly permitted suicide. That surprised me but I confirmed it with the agent. I image this doesn't apply to everyone (maybe it's not allowed in whole life plans), but I have a standard plan from a major carrier.

Unfortunately my wife also read the fine print so now I have to watch my back...

about 2 years ago
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When the Hiring Boss Is an Algorithm

edcheevy Re:I work at Evolv (245 comments)

This may be overly cynical, but I think it's the lesser of two evils. Historically, we've done an awful job of matching people to jobs. It's depressing to learn what really gets people hired and fired. As an I/O psychologist, I cringe whenever an under qualified applicant gets a job just because they know somebody. So as a field, in general, our goal is to make the process more scientific. As a field I/O is generally pretty positive, but it can definitely be used for evil. The strongest force stopping those folks are probably the equal opportunity laws and regulations.

If you want creepy though, the screening piece is just the beginning. Someday careers could be like your Netflix queue. Based on your past jobs, your performance at those jobs, your ratings of those jobs, your knowledge, skills, aptitudes, and interests, and other factors, your career queue could literally suggest new jobs for you and even line up start dates. That's terrifying for many of us, but for others that peace of mind would be a godsend. If it was mandated it's definitely Brave New World. But if it's voluntary? Then it's not so bad. You don't have to watch the movies Netflix suggests... But how would you ever break out and try something new? I think a poor implementation would be linear, single-career (which we know isn't realistic). A smart implementation which could actually enrich a lot of lives, would encourage career jumps every so many years to help keep people engaged and motivated.

about 2 years ago
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When the Hiring Boss Is an Algorithm

edcheevy Re:I work at Evolv (245 comments)

Sure, at the end of the day the employer pays our bills. That said, the highly inquisitive employee may not do so well in a customer service roll, but they can often make a great technical support agent. When an employer is trying to fill three positions and we can tell them which one an applicant is most likely to succeed in, we're helping the employer but also indirectly helping the employee. Many applicants for these types of jobs are taking the shotgun approach and apply to everything they find. They just want any job, so if we can match them with one where're they'll tend to do better, it's a least a small improvement over the old way of doing things.

What worries me more is somebody who scores poorly across our entire assessment. Somebody who you might say "does not play well with others". Personality isn't quite as static as pop psychology would have us believe, but that doesn't mean it's easy to change. How do we as a society engage with somebody who wants to work (they're applying for a job) but doesn't have a good attitude for it? Are there really that many entry level jobs to go around for the poor scoring applicants?

about 2 years ago
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When the Hiring Boss Is an Algorithm

edcheevy Re:I work at Evolv (245 comments)

You raise very valid concerns. Faking is addressed through two main approaches: different scoring patterns for different jobs and adaptive tests (the content you see today may not be there tomorrow). Many of our clients are trying to fill two or three positions at the same time. That could mean customer service, sales, and tech support at a call center, or cashier and back room at a retailer. A lot of skills and aptitudes are important to both positions, but there will be some differences and even different weighting within the same trait. So a question often has multiple "correct" responses, but one is more likely to point towards sales and the other customer service. In these cases, faking doesn't really help an applicant. Adaptive tests also include a concept called "item exposure" which is simply the number of times a question has appeared in a test. Item exposure becomes part of any adaptive testing algorithm to help determine which question to present next - the more times it's been exposed (thus more susceptible to cheating), the less often it will appear.

Absolutely a concern. Evolv (and any assessment vendor worth their salt) checks this to confirm their products don't cause adverse impact on age, ethnicity, or gender. With that in mind, there's data we've looked at but cannot use. For instance the distance from work variable -- yes it's reasonable to think that people who live further away are more likely to quit, but that data is often tied to socioeconomic status, which is often tied to ethnicity. Poorer people typically don't live next to employers. So we're aware of the correlation but we can't use it.

The big data approach works best in hourly positions where there's plenty of feedback for machine learning. When the inputs are fuzzy, it's a less useful solution. When companies do a poor job measuring performance to begin with, no amount of processing power will save them.

about 2 years ago
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When the Hiring Boss Is an Algorithm

edcheevy Re:I work at Evolv (245 comments)

You're absolutely correct, I do think this is the best currently available method for hiring hourly workers. The assessment itself is just one component. For instance, call center applicants also do a mini voice audition (clarity, tone, etc), take a typing test, and complete a behavioral descriptive interview. There's always a human element in the process, we're just trying to make sure the interviewers are asking consistent, job-relevant questions.

I completely agree that people can learn to be good at their job! Our assessments don't quiz people on knowledge they'll pick up in training or on the job. We don't pay much attention to resumes because great hires can come from any background, regardless of whether they have a specific skill set, and be a great fit for the role. When we start working with a new client, this is often a paradigm shift. But we do look at some relevant skills. If two people apply for an email support position and one of them has better typing WPM than the other, it only makes sense to hire the better typist even though the slower typist could learn.

At my previous Fortune 50 employer, top level executives absolutely did take tests like these. The analytics weren't as sophisticated as what we do at Evolv, but the same basic concepts applied. In either case though, these are never the single deciding factor for C-suite or front line positions.

about 2 years ago
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When the Hiring Boss Is an Algorithm

edcheevy Re:Not an algorithm... (245 comments)

Touche, you got us (I work at Evolv). But our heuristic is accurate enough for us to guarantee our results. Is a "guaranteed heuristic" semantically possible? :)

about 2 years ago
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When the Hiring Boss Is an Algorithm

edcheevy Re:Equal Opportunity Laws (245 comments)

I wouldn't worry about that, employment laws are well entrenched. IANAL (though I am an industrial/organizational psychologist at Evolv), but the employment laws are pretty clear when it comes to discriminating against protected classes. We've also known for years that intelligence is the single best predictor of performance across all job types, but as an industry we can't really use it because intelligence tests tend to discriminate. That's why you see so many personality-style tests.

There are a lot of specific questions employers cannot ask (personal, disability, some criminal history) as well as protected classes which cannot be arbitrarily discriminated against. Protected classes include ethnicity/race, gender, and age (people over 40). We're constantly checking our assessments to ensure they do not discriminate against women, any ethnicity, or older applicants.

Things get trickier when you add the notion of job relevance. IF you are using a screening tool that discriminates, it MUST be job relevant. You cannot disproportionately screen out women who can't lift xx lbs over their head from a firefighting job if that's not something a firefighter actually has to do on the job. You CAN disproportionately screen out blind people for the job of fire truck driver because vision is obviously job relevant.

Most employers try to stick with screening tools that are job relevant AND don't discriminate. Rarely do you see an idiot employer who screens based on some illegal, discriminatory criteria. More commonly it's an edge case, where a tool is job relevant but is discriminatory against some protected class (and isn't as obvious as the blind driver). Somebody sues and it gets settled out of court. It's just safer legally to not discriminate at all, job relevancy or no. At Evolv we include job relevant questions (i.e., call simulations for call center applicants; retail simulations for retail applicants) and situational judgment tests AND check to make sure they don't discriminate against a protected group. We could use job relevant questions that do discriminate since it would be legal, but it's just not worth the risk so you typically don't see it done.

about 2 years ago
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When the Hiring Boss Is an Algorithm

edcheevy I work at Evolv (245 comments)

I'm an industrial/organizational psychologist at Evolv. I help build assessment content and I work closely with our predictive algorithms. A few clarifications from the WSJ article & responses to /. comments:

Yes, creativity and empathy are important for some positions, even in call centers! We're not looking for hateful drones who will hang up on you when you call in. In addition to staying longer, our recommended hires perform better as well. That means increases in both customer satisfaction and efficiency (we call it "average handle time"). But it's a curvilinear relationship - somebody who is too inquisitive is going to tend to waste your valuable time (and their employer's) while trying to resolve your issue. There's a balance.

Most test vendors put a test in place and walk away. At Evolv we take all the post-hire data from our clients and continually feed it back into our algorithms. The content, scoring, and weighting adjust over time to be more predictive.

At Evolv, we don't pair obvious responses when we create questions. So no "I like to steal office supplies" vs "I always show up to work on time" questions. Coupled with the continual refresh & validation of the content, there is no "answer key" that will get you a job. One of the neat things about this approach that we've found is that people applying to entry level positions often don't know what they're good at. Either they've bounced around a few jobs or they're just out of high school. So when somebody applies to a call center job that's hiring for both customer service and sales positions, and we can recommend the position for which they're likely to be "fitter, happier, and more productive"... that's kind of cool. Their employer will make more money off a more stable employee, and the employee ends up doing something they will enjoy just a little bit more. I know some folks will see it from the Radiohead point of view, as creepy (and I respect that), but we think it's better than dumping somebody into a position they're not going to enjoy just because they had the right keywords on their resume or they BS'd their way through an interview.

Science & statistics help eliminate some crazy gut-based hiring decisions. Some hiring managers want to ask call center applicants what they'll be doing in 10 years with an expected response of "I'll be working at this call center". But let's be realistic - while some people enjoy them and thrive, call center jobs are typically not where you plan to be in 10 years. We've also found that resume experience for entry level positions is less important than basic skills and attitude. It's easy to look at that and say "duh" but you'd be surprised how many people hiring & screening for these roles want to exclude applicants who don't have prior experience. So we can cut things out of the interview and hiring process that just don't mean anything.

Evolv doesn't just do employment screening. We periodically follow up with people after they're hired. We find out what information wasn't communicated well during the hiring process, get their feedback on how their training is going, their thoughts on their supervisor, that sort of thing. We feed all of this back in to improve the process. In some cases, that means identifying the trainers whose students perform poorly when they start working. Other times it could be flagging a tenured stellar performer whose numbers are starting to dip for a new position to help reinvigorate them. We strive to improve profitability across the workforce, and do so in an employee-friendly way.

Last but not least, we're still expanding through Xerox, so if you've called their customer service and had a bad experience it must not have been one of our hires. Joking aside, agents are people too, and even our top recommendations have a bad day. We're working hard to to make it better though!

Hope that helps! Yes, there definitely are risks with employment testing, but we try to avoid them and build solutions that make everybody's life a little better.

Cheers,
Tim

about 2 years ago

Submissions

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Activist raises awareness for net neutrality

edcheevy edcheevy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

edcheevy (1160545) writes "Tania Derveaux is posing near nude and claiming "I will make love with every virgin who defends the Internet." As the spokeswoman for I Power, it's all part of a bid to raise awareness of net neutrality (and those who would destroy it). There's also an MSNBC article on the publicity stunt. Given the status of the site's readers, I have a sneaking suspicion this might get slashdotted..."
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