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Behavioral Interviews for New Hires? 396

Posted by Cliff
from the corporations-work-in-mysterious-ways dept.
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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Behavioral Interviews for New Hires?

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  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:03PM (#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choice between two technically equivalent candidates, if one has a cheerful, helpful personality, while the other has a withdrawn, antisocial one, who do you think they're going to go with?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...
    • by Sad Loser (625938) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:11PM (#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.
      • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:52PM (#15166605) Journal
        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.
        • +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 clus
          • Except these sorts of hiring procedures are performed by sociopathic managerial types, more often than not. Anyone that could work well with them, has severe personality issues anyway... they want to make sure that you are broken, and that you are broken in a way that makes you easy to use.

            Not so much fun, that.
            • Not here, at least.

              Our HR department receives the resumes and forwards them to us (the technical team the person will be working on) for review. We then schedule the interviews and make recommendations.

              No HR involvement at that point.
        • 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
          • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:42PM (#15167123) Journal
            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.
          • Q: Where do you plan to be in five years?

            A: On the other side of this desk explaining why you won't be getting a severence package.

            Works every time...

      • 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 p
      • 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
      • by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:46PM (#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.
        • by billstewart (78916) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @07:12PM (#15169628) Journal
          You can usually tell when a small company has hired a professional HR manager - there are about 100 employees, and the HR department kills the every-Friday-afternoon beer party.

          I've dealt with a range of different company sizes, from the old-style huge company I've worked with to the little techie shops my friends and customers have often worked for. The folks in the HR department may have psych degrees, but they generally don't understand how tech people think, work, relate to their work, or relate to each other. They _sometimes_ have a clue about how sales people think and work, but HR people who understand techies are really rare golden folks, and you usually only run into them if they're at consulting companies brought in to help your company out of a jam.

          I don't think that an HR person needs to be able to read a Java-graphics-widget-set manual to understand how a developer and tech writer talk to each other through the process, but they do need to be able to read things like "The Existential Pleasures of Engineering" or at least read science fiction or have some familiarity with Monty Python or other fundamental works of our culture, as opposed to "The Inner Game of Golf" or "How To Feel Really Really Self-Motivated about Success" if they're doing HR for sales people.

          HR people are usually good at dealing with employment bureaucracy - hiring rules, legal requirements, medical insurance, payroll, administering salaries in line with market trends, etc. Sometimes they're good at employee counseling, and you'll find good psych types there handling things like alcoholism or family-related stress. But how often have you seen the HR folks spending time with your department looking at the personal dynamics between people, coaching managers in how to manage the folks working for them? I'd be happy if the HR people could make sure that the resumes they forward to us are for people who understand what all the buzzwords they use mean; I guess they're mainly adding value by filtering out responses that _didn't_ include the right buzzwords, and by understanding the clues that mean "got fired from last job due to ongoing criminal activity" or checking whether they actually attended the colleges they say they did. But if they don't know how developers talk to each other, or what kinds of stories consultants tell with their clients, or what depth of math background is needed for the kinds of problems we solve, then they're seldom likely to add value by sending the ESFJs to one department and the INTPs to another, much less interpreting MMPIs in ways that are any use at all.

          Nor do I usually see them forwarding that kind of information on to managers, who might like to know that one developer is an INTP who needs to be encouraged to see the value of shipping code before all possible features have been added, while another is an ISTJ who needs regular short meetings to discuss whether the tools have sufficient generality to really capture the potential user spaces before starting to write the user interfaces for it, or is an ENFP who needs to be given some critical concepts about the functionality and the capability limits so that the user interface actually supports the right features and also needs a supply of chocolate bars to bribe other developers into communicating with the documentation people.

          Back in the early 80s, when Affirmative Action was becoming a social issue, we had a lot of HR types spend a lot of time with us to deal with attitudes about cultural diversity (ok, and to deal with lawsuits), and there was a lot of good psych work in some of that as well as generally useful tools for dealing with situations, not only about cultural relationships but also about getting my ISTJ football-player boss to understand different work styles. On the other hand, when the HR department comes around with courses about "Change Is Good!" and buttons saying "We're Navigating Change!", that's really a clue to get your resume in shape for the upcoming layoffs. (I did wear the button

      • by morcheeba (260908) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:18PM (#15167966) Journal
        Behavioural interviewing is a very dodgy 'science'

        To test your assertion, I ran the text of your post through a behavioral analysis program. Here are the results of your personality, using the HDWU scale:

        Happy: 2%
        Depressed: 98%
        Winner: 3%
        Under-achiever: 97%

        The stated margin of error is 5%, so I think it did pretty well is assessing your personality. Well, if usernames are to believed...
    • by bhsurfer (539137) <bhsurfer.gmail@com> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:26PM (#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.

      • Here's my problem with the whole thing.

        I've taken a professional, honest-to-goodness Meyers-Briggs test. Administered by somebody specially trained to give them. She spent several minutes explaining about how it shows tendancies, how it's a learning tool, made a great analogy that a right-handed person could, with effort, learn how to be a left handed person, and a given personality type could, similarly, train themselves to new tendancies. It's a spectrum, or a continuum, not an absolute thing, and so on. Test took several hours.

        Great. I'm an INTP, by the way.

        When a itty bitty 50 question 'MBTI' test is downloaded off the Internet by some random middle manager, who considers it to be the 100% accurate be-all and end-all of crystal balling, and given all willy-nilly, without even understanding how the terms 'introvert' and 'extrovert' are used (and no, they don't mean shy versus gregarious,) I get worried.

    • 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 introvert
      • 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
      • 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.

        Or you're just cynical.

    • 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 subcon

    • 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

  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:04PM (#15166085) Journal

    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.


    • 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 possibl
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:19PM (#15166891) Journal
      "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.
  • 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. :-)
  • by zephc (225327) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:08PM (#15166144)
    Run, don't walk, out of there if they want you to take this 'personality test' [xenu.net]
  • by 93,000 (150453) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:13PM (#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.
    • 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.
      • 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.

        Not necessarily. While I don't argue that it's a 'call center job' quiz, these quiz types still come up in places you wouldn't expect. At this particular company, the test was given to applicants across the board, regardless of position - and this was at a $1+ billion financial services company that was an excellent place to work.

        Usef
    • "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 an

      • 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!

        TESTER'S NOTE: Subject's response displayed admirable enthusiasm and loyalty, but extreme disregard for cleanliness of the office carpet.

        XX Two demerits.
  • by GodaiYuhsaku (543082) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:14PM (#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.
    • 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

      • 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.
    • I don't think i've ever lied personally

      Well you just did!
  • 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 deci

  • 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.
  • by alta (1263) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:20PM (#15166260) Homepage Journal
    Give me the login info for the test, I'll take it for you, since you obviously have a problem taking it.
  • by Doctor Memory (6336) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:21PM (#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).
    • ...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,

  • Spoof it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Marko DeBeeste (761376) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:27PM (#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.

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

      I think they're just giving you something to do while enjoying a root beer [dpsu.com].
  • 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 syste
  • Simple (Score:2, Troll)

    by Billosaur (927319) *
    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.

  • by eddeye (85134) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:59PM (#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.

    • 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
    • by Xugumad (39311) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:14PM (#15167403)
      > all this during his probationary period and they still kept him on full-time.

      So, erm, is your company hiring? :)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:59PM (#15168391)
      you remember me

      please don't post about me on my bike again now they'll be looking for me on my bike

      i cant find that orange hat do you have my orange hat

      i like animals

      i need to change my socks because my socks are dirty

      i just got rehired

      i see you monday free coffee
  • 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

  • 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
  • by Mr.Surly (253217) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:06PM (#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.
    • by Trifthen (40989) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:30PM (#15168646) Homepage

      Gotta love "tests" that provide completely artificial situations that would never occur, with actions you'd never perform, and supposedly gauge your personality or other metal capacity. It should go more like this:

      Interviewer: You're currently raping a quadrapalegic twelve-year-old girl who's recently had her family murdered right in front of her, and...
      Me: I'm WHAT!?
      Interviewer: Please don't interrupt. This test is designed with situations which provoke an emotional response. These answers are very important to us!
      Me: You and your company are clearly insane. How's that for an emotional response?
    • by kjs3 (601225)
      Thanks! That's the first laugh-out-loud thing I've read today.

  • 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% pe

  • by rlp (11898) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:12PM (#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
  • Hahahaha oh man (Score:5, Insightful)

    by E. Edward Grey (815075) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:13PM (#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

  • by xjimhb (234034) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:14PM (#15166841) Homepage
    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.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      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 pe
  • I had one (Score:4, Interesting)

    by macdaddy (38372) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:35PM (#15167062) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:43PM (#15167130) Homepage
    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!"?
  • 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
  • There's an old saying about how "An IQ test measures exactly what it measures." If people can't agree on what something that is supposed to be as "objective" as IQ is, then how are tests that measure "personality" going to be able to assess something squishy like "personality" in any objective, reliable way?

    Personality tests can range from things taken out of legitimate psych research to some management guru's take on personality to pop science. Not only is what can be interpreted from them as a measure of

  • Why not ask them? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmuth (14143) <doug.muth+slashdot @ g m ail.com> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @03:42PM (#15168225) Homepage Journal
    I'm serious.

    An interview isn't just a one-way process where the company asks you questions, it's also YOUR chance to ask the company questions. For example: Questions about the product they sell, questions about the workplace environment and policies, and questions about who you would be working for and what sort of hours you'd be expected to keep are all legitimate.

    That being said, I think it's perfectly legit to ask them why they'd like you to take the chance. I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was, "We had a past employee with real attitude problems and don't want anyone like them here again".

    That's my two cents. IANAI (I Am Not An Interviewer)
  • Easy - Burn It! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rmckeethen (130580) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @08:49PM (#15170040)

    About six months ago, I met a young woman in a bar who'd just gotten back the results from one of these 'personality' tests she took for a potential employer. Amazingly enough, they'd assigned her a letter grade on this test: she scored a D+ . Wonderful. How sweet. After a half hour of discussion, I convinced her to walk outside and burn the stupid thing. The barmaid got pissed with the fire, but fuck it -- incineration is the only appropriate way to deal with this kind of garbage.

    In my opinion, passing judgement on anyone's personality is a pointless and elitest exercize. It's the same with drug testing. In my experience, it's a sure bet that companies which utilize these tests never expect to maintain the same standards they want to hold me to. When potential employers start offering the results of their owners/executives/managers personality tests, I'll be more willing to take them. Until that time -- and I'm not holding my breath -- I'll look elsewhere for work. I'm just not that interested in being someone's worker drone.

  • by quietwalker (969769) <pdughi@gmail.com> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @10:15PM (#15170441)
    I think that several people posting simply don't have the right concept about what's going on. This isn't a behavior or social ability test, to see how you can cope with a situation. Rather, as a select few individuals have indicated, this is a measure of your personality type.

    For example;

    • Are you extroverted or introverted
    • Are you more likely to focus on detail and move slowly or focus on results and willing to take a risk.
    • Are you motivated by a challenge, or by money.

    Additionally, certain tests include a quality indicator. Answering questions like, "Have you ever lied?" with a "no" sets off an alarm that the person may be falsifiying information.

    I've worked with an industrial psychologist who generates these exact tests, and helped them provide web-enabled interfaces for it. I've implemented the scoring and ran through the tests as they've changed many times. I'm not going to comment on whether they're accurate or not - it's irrelevant to the people here.

    Instead, lets look at how they are used - something that I've also been exposed to, both from the usage of the tools I wrote, to being subjected to similiar tests by potential employers.

    1. HR requirement as a filter.

      These tools are meant to check you into usually four to eight personality types. If you do not fit the type, you do not get the job, for any company who uses them.

      Real world examples I've seen include:

      • Programmer: Attention to detail, motivated by sense of accomplishment, lack of ambition.
      • Manager : focus on completion/results over detail, motivated by power/control, high career ambition
      • Salesman: focus on people, motivated by money & recoginition, optimistic
    2. 'Smart' usage

      Instead of randomly specifying a category, your existing employees are profiled, and you take the results of your star employees and make those the expected attributes for the position.

    3. Contract jobs

      Many contracting firms expect a contractor to take a behavioral assessment, which is used as a tool by the contract manager to; provide a good match for a candidate, ensure the candidate and company needs match, and to provide humanistic value for an individual they have to represent. You can't easily say "Such-and-Such is trustworthy," having only met them once, but you can point to a psych evaluation and say "Our analysis shows that s/he places a high emphasis on trust."

    So, what do you do with this info if you're a tech-savvy guy applying for an IT-related position?

    These tests work as filters for, well, non-skilled positions. They are applied to every new hire, usually per company HR policy. Honestly, they don't appear to work very well for skilled labour. Look at the programmer example up above. The profile given is for a programmer who is sedate. No new languages, no new technologies, happy to be doing the same job for the next 20 years. This was just the result of a random decision; you had to pick one of the 8 categories, and the one with 'attention to detail' was the top pick. What happens when technologies change, or the software needs to be updated, or new software designed? Too bad you hired someone who won't tend to learn new things.

    What they say they want, and what they need are often disparate things. You can be perfectly suited for the job, but dinged on the somewhat arbitrairy match from the personality test.

    To answer my question above, the smart IT person will attempt to determine before hand what the employer is looking for and cheat the test.

    These tests are transparent. If something asks if you'd rather have a trophy with your name on it, or a cash prize, you can tell one is focused on recognition, and the other on money. Figure out beforehand what the profile is they're looking for and try to match it. Be consistent, since the same question will be asked 3-4 times using different wording. Most scoring systems ar

  • by M0b1u5 (569472) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @11:39PM (#15170807) Homepage
    I have LOST a job I held as a direct result of these type of tests - but it was a few years ago.

    I was hired as a salesman, in New Zealand's biggest appliance store - there were 15 sales "men" there (no women at the time!) and I was head-hunted from the competition. I was on a great salary, plus commission, and I had achieved all my sales target except 2 (and they were artificially high, it would have ranked me at #4 in the store after 4 months there!).

    Did I mention that the head office, was directly across the alleyway from the store?

    In the 6th month I was required to take some kind of test like this - which I dutifully did.

    Anyway, I took the test, and two days later was involved in a stand-up shouting match with the sales manager and the marketing manager, who accused me of "failing to achieve your sales targets, and your profile brands you as 'not a salesman'" (which was pretty funny, seeing as I was ranked at #7 for that month.

    The short version is that they gave me notice right there and then.

    I was only 22 years old, and crushed! I cried for about an hour as I cleared out my gear.

    The #1 sales guy found me sobbing in the warehouse and asked what was going on. I told him what'd happened, and he said "Shit, sorry Chris, I should have told you that was coming, because I figured you'd be gone this month."

    I asked why, and his response was that it was obvious to him, that despite being a fine salesman, I wasn't going to be happy there 5 years from now, and would want one of the management positions in thehead office - less than 50 metres away.

    He said, and I fully believe, that the test I took showed I had "management potential" and that the managers promptly fired me so they wouldn't have to deal with me 5 years down the track, by which time, I would be gunning for their jobs...

    Anyway, a word to the wise: be careful how you come across on these things - because if you don't fall into the "right" category according to the tester, even if you are fully qualified for it you probably won't get a job.

    Middle and upper management (I know this now!) spend most of their day shitting themselves that someone will find out that they have not a single clue about their job - and the rest of the time they are office politiking to ensure that no one can grab their job.

    It mustbe hard work to be such a dirt clod, but there you go.
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday April 21, 2006 @05:25AM (#15171667)
    And it GOT ME THE JOB. The other guy looked better on paper, and was was about the same for personality in person. I blew him away on not only the skills portion of the online test, but the personality portion, too.

    Just before my interview, the company implemented a policy that they would test for personality before hiring ANYONE. Even the lowest worker. The reason is that there were so many people that disrupted the harmony of the workplace and made everyone's life miserable. They decided to fix the problem and it's worked. It's a totally awesome place to work.

    If you don't have the personality to pass one of these tests, by all means, don't take it and just go find another company to apply to. If you think you are a likeable person, take the test.
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday April 21, 2006 @05:39AM (#15171701) Homepage Journal
    and they'll smash their thumbs.

    Are tests like this useful? Yes.

    Are tests like this going to cause some people to make bad decisions? Yes.

    The bottom line is 90% of the people in the world do not know how to handle data. It isn't about being good at calculation; it's about triangulation. Every bit of evidence has to be weighed in context.

    What they need to do is take the following bits of information (in order of importance IMO):

    (1) Your references
    (2) Your interview
    (3) Test results

    and look at them as a whole. It's like SATs. You take a kid with low grades, an intriguing interview and high scores and the picture that comes out is, "bright kid, bored in school." Or the kid with high grades, a bit uncomfortable in the interview but obviously bright, and low scores is "test anxiety".

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

    A great deal. In many cases as much or more than your technical skills. After all, if you're smart skills are easy to acquire, but attitude is hard, possibly even harder for smart people, who are used to being right when everyone around them is wrong. It may be that they're looking for somebody who doesn't like people. There are jobs for people like that, people who have to do tasks that would suck the life out of a gregarious person. But most jobs require people skills, because most of the time there is more work than one person can do without interacting with others.

    The problem with these tests IMO is that they don't necessarily measure adaptability. Sometimes you have be able to work as a loner, other times hand in glove as part of a team. You tend to think of yourself in terms of your most recent work, but it doesn't mean you can't work a different way.

Nobody's gonna believe that computers are intelligent until they start coming in late and lying about it.

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