Quantify Yourself!

So, because of various issues, circumstances, and reasons, I’m looking for work. It’s slow going and not particularly pleasant, mostly because—due to other circumstances and reasons—I never finished my degree, and have a very limited and non-diverse work history. This severely limits the types of jobs I can apply for. That in and of itself is frustrating and discouraging, but there’s one more aspect these places like to throw at would-be applicants:

The assessment test.

If you’ve never had to apply to a job that requires this special level of hell, count yourself lucky. For those who have had to maneuver through these seemingly endless pseudo-psychological tests, my condolences. They are insulting, pointless, and impossible to use as a way to gauge any type of personality or worth ethic from the applicant. I absolutely HATE them.

For those of you who have no idea what these are, let me give you the run down.

When you answer a job listing these days, you’re likely re-directed to an online application process where you upload your resume, cover letter, references, yadda yadda. No problem, right? Saves a stamp, and doesn’t make you drive all over the world to apply in person. Being technologically capable, I have zero problems with this. Badabing, badaboom, you’re just about in the running with a few clicks of the mouse.

Then THAT PAGE comes up. The one that announces “You’re almost done! Now you just have to fill out our assessment test so we can get to know you better.”

Well. Hell.

These “assessment tests” are basically a bunch of statements, which you then have to declare whether you Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neither, Agree, or Strongly Agree with. Sometimes they like to throw in Moderately Disagree/Agree, too. Just to make things that much more complicated.

personality-test-big-4

They’re bull and they don’t give the full picture about the applicant’s personality, thinking process, or mindset. The statements are never as black and white as they seem, and just about always have an “it depends” type of answer. Some samples:

“I like problems that have simple solutions.”

Well, DUH. Who wouldn’t like a simple solution to a problem? But do I peg myself as a “lazy thinker” who only wants obvious, simple solutions, or do I claim I’d rather have some impossibly complex issue to deal with?

“I like to work alone.”

Truth be told, yeah, I do like to be left alone to get my work done. But that doesn’t mean I can’t work within groups, too. So do I Agree with this (or Strongly Agree) and risk being pegged as a loner who is anti-social and doesn’t work well with others?

“I like to listen to other people’s problems.”

This one’s particularly tricky. It could paint me as a good listener who’s always eager to help, or it could make me seem like a horrible gossip who’ll pay more attention to the social and personal stuff going on than my work.

“I like to ease into the workday when I start.”

I’d wager that not many of us jump straight into work the very second we arrive. We take a few minutes to see what’s been going on, socialize with co-workers, catch up with anything interesting or important we need to know, check email or messages, get our coffee, organize our station/desk/whatever, etc. I’m not saying screw around, but generally mentally prepare ourselves for the coming shift. Easing into the swing of things is not a bad thing. But this may make me seem like I’m eager to shirk responsibility until I “feel” like working.

“I often feel stressed out.”

This one kind of pisses me off, really. There are a lot of things than can cause stress—financial issues, personal problems, illness, kids, etc. It’s practically a given in life. But that doesn’t mean it will necessarily effect my ability to do my job. So do I lie and Disagree, essentially saying “NO, my life’s full of unicorn farts and puppy smiles!” or say “HELL YES, stress is like that stray dog that comes and humps my leg regularly!”?

And to add insult to injury, the SAME STATEMENTS pop up over and over again. I think they do it on purpose to see if you’ll give a different answer. I once filled out an application for a place, I forget where, and they had an assessment test that had something like 20 freaking pages, to the tune of approximately 100+ of these damn statements. A good dozen (at least) kept showing up over and over again. Are you freaking kidding??

I wish employers would stop with these stupid tests. They do nothing but frustrate potential applicants, and paint a very narrow—and often untrue—view of who this person really is. Maybe I’m overthinking them, but honestly, I don’t see how you couldn’t. NONE of these statements are black and white. (Except for the occasional “I think it’s acceptable to steal from work.” Seriously?) I could answer just about all with an “It depends.” Because it does. Each situation, each workplace, is different. Hell, each APPLICANT is different. You can’t use the same yardstick to measure them all by.

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Not to mention the fact that my resume isn’t exactly stellar reading. I took time off after my kids were born to care for them, and get my special needs daughter the therapy and resources necessary to help her function better. But that leaves a gap which, when pared with my non-degree and ho-hum history, offers another strike against me in the job market.

Stay in school kids. Or at least don’t let your resume stagnate. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in personality assessment hell. And I strongly disagree with that.

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