The Gnomes of Personality Assessments


During my odyssey of interviews, I have come across a strange happening – personality assessments.

They are usually administered after speaking with the initial recruiter and taken at your own leisure, although “your own leisure” contains an entirely separate definition than that of a recruiter; “right this very instant” is more of their speed. I suggest that you take the test while sitting in that chair where you over-analyze things and spill coffee on all of your favorite books.

Ready? Perfect. Let’s begin.

You will be confronted with a panel of words – if you are not a definition type of person you are shit out of luck – and proposed a simple question, such as:

“Choose the words that best describe you”

This is relatively straightforward and shouldn’t induce much head scratching or nose picking. But recently I was asked a question with a Saw-like, “I want to play a game” twist:

“Which one of these three best describes you?”

Funny – Helpful – Dedicated

Well, fuck me.

After I blurted out a combination of laughter and obscenities, I began to break down each word as if they contained some sort of cryptic, Stephen Hawking meaning.

Well, funny. Everyone likes funny, but do they want funny in an office setting? Does funny mean “I don’t work hard?”, “I goof around?”. Funny how? Funny like a clown? Funny like I amuse you? Eh, Henry? Eh?

Helpful is a good, strong word. You help that old lady cross the street, you help your buddy move into his apartment, you help the Nazis rise the 3rd Reich. Shit. 

Dedicated. That has to be the word they want me to pick. Dedicated to the company, dedicated to my position. But maybe they know that I know that I’ll choose it because I know that they want me to. Trixy these corporate people.

That popping sound is your brain storming out of your ear like Napoleon across Europe.

I forgot which word I chose, but I didn’t receive a second interview, so I must have chosen poorly a la Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

My major gripe is that hiring the correct person for the job shouldn’t be decided by these sort of impersonal, static, and arbitrary tests. Human beings possess intangibles – abilities that cannot be quantified – and no test or survey is going to be able to convey that to a hiring manager or recruiter.

It instantly puts the candidate at a disadvantage by placing another brick in the wall that they must remove before even being seriously considered for a position; do companies really wonder why most people are disenchanted by corporate America?

I realize that there are thousands of resumes being thrown into the pit for a single position, but allowing the gnomes of personality assessments to pigeonhole people by means of a pick-and-choose test is entirely unacceptable. I would prefer a system of shoots and ladders.

At least then we’d all get a free ride on the slide.

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