August 23, 2010

Analyze This

Last week, I had a face-to-face, sit-down interview for a new job and, despite my own perceived lack of solid inter-personal skills, I managed to advance to the second round of the applicant review process, in the form of a writing exercise assignment and personality assessments.

Now, the writing exercise I'm pretty confident about. After all, having written professionally now for over a decade, I think I have that particular skill figured out. The personality assessments, however, left me a little bit frazzled.

I was assured, prior to taking the personality assessments, that there were no wrong answers. That's just nonsense. Of COURSE there are wrong answers; otherwise, what's the point of taking the assessments?

I was also encouraged to be "brutally honest with myself," which just can't possibly end up being a good thing for me. I mean, I once blew up a grenade in my parents' back yard, got hit by a train and cheated death in other similar monumentally stupid ways over the course of my life so far. If I'm ever going to be brutally honest with myself, the only conclusion I could possibly reach is that I'm a spectacular moron.

The assessments themselves were particularly peculiar. In the first assessment, I was asked to place 12 terms and phrases in order of how good and bad I felt they were. I was able to list the "good" terms fairly easily -- "I love my life," and "I find comfort in the harmony of the universe" were the kind of phrases that struck me as generally good.

The "bad" terms, however, were seriously bad; like, almost comically seriously bad. For example -- and I must stress I'm NOT making these up -- "poisoning the city water supply" and "torturing a person to death," were two phrases I actually struggled to rank in the 11th and 12th positions. Let's be honest, they're both REALLY bad, but I found myself waffling a bit when it came to deciding which one was the worst.

I mean, yeah, torturing a person to death is bad, but if I'm not the one doing the torturing, or the one being tortured, I didn't think it was AS BAD as poisoning an entire city's water supply. After all, a poisoned water supply can kill hundreds, if not thousands of people, whereas the whole torture thing is only going to kill one person. In the end, however, I listed "torturing a person to death" as the worst phrase, based entirely on my preference of how the word "poison" sounds better than "torture."

The second personality assessment was a list of over 300 "True & False" statements and, let me tell you, the statements ran a very diverse gamut. While I confidently answered "True" to "My car has air conditioning," I wasn't quite sure how to respond to "My excuses aren't usually believable." That really depends on the person I'm delivering an excuse to, after all.

There were literally scores of questions that could have gone either "true" or "false" depending on all sorts of extenuating circumstances, so I felt mentally exhausted after over an hour spent completing the assessments.

And the worst part is, I just KNOW I got all the questions wrong, if I'm going to be brutally honest with myself.

Posted by Ryan at August 23, 2010 02:57 PM | TrackBack

Sounds like a Myers Briggs test, or a weird offshoot of one. Having taken one, I'm of the opinion that they're a waste of time, and tell the employer little of value.

"My anus is bleeding." T / F

Posted by: Keith at August 23, 2010 03:16 PM

"Myers Briggs" it was! And I thought it was a waste of time from start to finish, too. I'm focused on nailing the writing assignment, because THAT actually matters.

Posted by: Ryan at August 23, 2010 03:31 PM

I've always hated those kinds of tests. My answer almost always would start with "it depends" if given the chance to really answer them.

And I wonder what kind of person actually fails those things.

Posted by: Beth at August 24, 2010 09:03 AM

I don't know if this is a good thing or not, but there are some people who know how they scored on Myers-Briggs. I just took a quickie online test that was scored as an INTJ (Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging).

This is more justification for the continued employment of Human Resources employees, and continued expansion of HR budgets. They look at these tests and say "Oh, well, a writer should have a thus-and-such Myers-Briggs result." Like they know.

All I know is that if they don't hire you as a writer, it is so their loss. Especially if part of the job is being occasionally unspeakably hilarious.

Posted by: Douglas Bass at August 24, 2010 08:20 PM


Posted by: Ryan at August 25, 2010 06:50 AM
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