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In the current economy, chances are you or someone you know is looking for work. But gone are the simple days of finding a job, applying, and maybe getting called for an interview.

To get a job now, you have to pass tests before even being considered for a position. While some people say it’s a good indicator of a person, I say, given how a number of these work, that it’s bunk. And here’s why (HR people — take notice!)

Important Missing Information

A job hunter goes to a website (or paper) and goes looking for a job. They see an ad for a company they like (or just is the only one listed they can even remotely do), so they continue reading:

“XYZ Looking for a hard working person to fill a position with our company. Series inquiries only. Send resume and how you’re qualified for this position to: XYZ corp, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, Somewhere, Someplace, 00000. XYZ is an eoe.”

Now while it’s not verbatim for a job application, a number put in something along the lines of “how you’re qualified” in it. But do you see the problem? What’s the job?

That’s right, whoever is at the company in the HR department wants to know how you’re qualified for work at this company — yet they won’t say what the position is. Sad thing is you frequently see this only at companies that have positions ranging from high school diploma required to masters of electrical engineering with 10 years experience minimum. So how would a person know if they are even qualified if they don’t say what it is?

Are you on drugs?

Read into that whatever you want — it applies pretty much no matter what. Some of these tests you have to pass are personality tests. They’re designed to weed out any “bad” people or people who you wouldn’t want working at your company. Basically, if the test comes back you’re an introvert who doesn’t like dealing with people – you’re not going to get called in for a job that involves working the crowd and dealing with people (unless they’re desperate).

But here’s where these things get messed up. Originally these tests were on paper, and then they converted these to online versions for auto-grading and storage. And here’s where it gets messed up and you pretty much find out that many companies need to fire their HR people and hire new.

After you submit an application now, you get a few “gems” on your personality tests that you have to answer “strongly disagree”, “disagree”, “somewhat agree/disagree”, “agree”, “strongly agree”. These examples were on actual personality pre-application screening tests:

When I’m high I get into fist fights with my coworkers

I like to be high before sexually assaulting my coworkers

Rape charges have been dropped

I prefer smoking my cocaine over injecting it

I smoke weed a few times a week

I smoke weed every day

Now some of you corporate brainwashed types might think “what’s wrong with those?” — and other than some of those, and many more on the actual tests, fall into being a question asked in a “if yes” to a prior statement. It’s pretty obviously what a “agree/strongly agree” or even “somewhat agree/disagree” would seem to imply (that it’s true)… but what if you say “strongly disagree/disagree”?

When I’m high I get into fist fights with my coworkers

Are you saying that “no I don’t get into fist fights when high” or “no I don’t get high so it doesn’t apply”? Both apply!

I like to be high before sexually assaulting my coworkers

Again, are you saying that “no I don’t get high first”, or “no I don’t do any of it!”

Rape charges have been dropped

So no charges ever filed, not caught, or never raped anyone?

I prefer smoking my cocaine over injecting it

This one, and similar ones, is especially bad — you either say you prefer to smoke cocaine, or you prefer to inject it. While it’s similar to the others in a “missing ‘do not do at all’ option”, it’s actually making you choose “smoking cocaine” or “injecting cocaine” as your preferred method by your answer. While like with the “rape” question you could say “strongly disagree” and hope they take it as you’re not a rapist — pick strongly disagree here and you are saying you prefer injecting it – and you hope they ask you if you do cocaine in person (as normally this question would’ve followed “Do you do cocaine? If yes then…”)

The others follow the same thing. How can you answer these questions without implying that they’re true? And if a company is using this test to screen people before their application is even seen by them, how would you know if your resume is actually even submitted? Some companies will have these statements (or variants thereof) scattered around:

You must pass this test in order to be considered for employment.

You will not receive any indication whether you passed this test, and we will not acknowledge your application submission.

You cannot contact us about your application; your application will be tossed if you do.

Notice the problems here too? Yep, if you fail the test (i.e. didn’t answer questions as above as you should and is frequently graded by a computer), your resume might not even be given to the company. And worse yet – you’ll never know if you failed or if they even got your resume as they won’t acknowledge anything.

Wrapping up

So there you have it. HR personnel using automated tests to get personalities – yet they screw them up (or just don’t pre-screen them) so you end up with these things happening. Toss in computer-scored into it, and the person is at the mercy of computer code for whether they get a job or not. And the best part of it all? You almost always see “do not contact us about the application or you won’t be considered” whenever you have these messed up tests — so you can’t even call to explain things or to even tell them “hey, uh, you really need to redo your online test! Take it yourself and see why.”

So any HR people out there — take your own personality tests, and actually think what the answers they have to select would mean based on the question.

Ok… I trashed the original post.  Yep, completely (I found things that made some points potentially invalid, so I cleared it up).  See this is how it was… some people say employers doing credit checks hurt your credit score, others say it doesn’t.  Both say the inquiries are listed in your credit report (so yeah, two competitors could potentially see you applied for the other — like that’s going to help you).  But in the end it kind of falls into a simple thing, credit scores are spirals.  If you have good credit, you can get more; if you have bad, it’s only going to get worse without more effort than it took to get in that state (a single accident could trash your credit).

And in the end, it’s that simple thing that causes problems for everything.  You have to pay out more money if you have a bad credit score — so the people with less money have to pay even more.  Those with more money get discounts.  If you’ve got to pay more for the same things, it’s possible you’ll get further behind on some payments.  Then when a company does a check, what do they see?  Short credit history (if you closed accounts on your own of old accounts), late payments, etc.  So now they think you’re a lazy slob who can’t manage things.  Now you run the risk of not being hired (although they do have to tell you why if it’s because of the report — now if they do this….), or being hired and given less pay than you would’ve before, less chance for advancement/etc.

If you’re ever been on an interview, you’ve most likely heard any of these useless questions:

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  2. What are your greatest strengths?
  3. What are your biggest weaknesses?
  4. Why do you want this job?
  5. Why should we hire you?
  6. What type of animal/tree/food/mineral/planet are you?

Now I’ve seen many interviewers that say these are very important because they say something about the candidate! Yes, they say just how much time you’ve wasted online looking for answers to these very questions. Overall, they say nothing, and really have nothing to do with any job.

After all…

#1 Where do you see yourself in 5 years — what are you psychic? Now the interviewers say they want to know what goals you have for yourself to see if their inline with the company… but in all honesty, chances are in 5 years you’ll be looking for another job because either they’ve let you go, the company’s shut down, or just the job totally sucks and you’re needing something better, or they aren’t paying you enough. At the same time, there’s not really that many companies that have advancement no matter what job you’ve got. You a programmer? Great! Start at an entry-level position, work your way up to senior programmer (maybe 10 years if that), but after that you’ve got to either leave the company or enter a position unrelated to programming. If they’re looking for a programmer, and you say in 5 years you’ll be doing something other than programming (because, well, you might just be if you advance like planned) – do you really think they’ll hire you for a programming position?

As a similar thing, how do you even know that during the interview some plane, semi, train, car, etc isn’t going to come crashing through the building and take you out – or just cause the business to close shop? How do you know you won’t die unexpectedly while sitting there? You have no clue what will actually happen 5 seconds from now, let alone 5 years. A similar thing exists for what you’d be expecting: you can’t give specifics, only some vague standard “doing a job related to {the job I’m interviewing for now} with a company I love” which is pretty much the happy little lie that the interviewer likes to hear even though they know you’re lying. You’d really like to see yourself owning your own island with tons of parties, money, and not having to work.

#1.5 What guarantee can you make that you’ll still be here in 5 years? — This is a question sometimes asked, but is really similar to #1, so we call it 1.5. A person can’t guarantee that they’ll be alive in 24 hours — there’s no way they can guarantee you’ll still be working for them in 5 years. The business can’t even guarantee that they’ll be around in 5 years. They can’t even guarantee that they’d still be keeping you around that long. This question is the dumbest one around as you can’t even give a standard response – as it requires knowledge of the future, and a guarantee that knowledge of future events won’t cause the future events to be changed (so everything’s set in stone, if you know you’re going to be killed in a car accident at 8am, even if you have yourself committed into a padded room, the act of you getting committed will cause you to die in the accident). Yet there are some really dumb people demanding a guarantee from people before they’ll hire them.

#2 & #3 What are your greatest strengths/What are your biggest weaknesses? — Yeah, and who’s going to say their biggest strength is the ability to drink anyone under the table, and the biggest weakness is missing too much work from being in jail for drug offenses? Once again, the interviewer expects you to lie and give a canned response. But if you think about it, do they really want your strength/weakness in reality, or as related to the job you’re applying? If it’s in life, it doesn’t apply and shouldn’t be asked for it has nothing to do with the job at hand; if it’s the job, what if you’re just now entering the field? Do they want you to answer given your jobs overall? What if you got injured at your prior job in a way that you couldn’t/shouldn’t do it anymore, and are going into a different field? The greatest strength of a human resource manager wouldn’t really matter if you’re going to work in a non-HR capacity. If your job was as a programmer, your greatest strength/weakness wouldn’t apply to a non-programming job — overall of course, as some things (ability to solve problems, etc) could overlap in a general sense.

#4 & #5 Why do you want this job / Why should we hire you? — For virtually everyone in the world, the “why” would be “I need a job/I need more money” or a variant thereof, and the answer of why they should hire you, if answered honestly, would be the same answer. There’s not much else to say about this, every so often a person wants a job because they actually just want the job (and don’t need a new one, they’re moving on because of desire), every so often a person has a unique set of skills that matches a job position perfectly. In the end, why the company should hire you over someone else is entirely up to the company. A person either has the requirements for a job, or they don’t. They’ve got no idea what skill set anyone else applying for the job has. It’s just one of those questions that is pretty much useless. The person needs a job – that’s it. If they applied, they aren’t overqualified for the job. They aren’t going to leave you in a few weeks for another job (generally). They applied and showed up because they need a job.

#6 What type of animal/tree/food/mineral/planet are you? — Or any other question along these lines where they try to figure out what makes you tick by saying you’re a “yellow fox orbiting Jupiter”. The interviewer might have some psychology-based research paper that says “someone who identifies as a ____ is ____” and might be going by that to find the “perfect match”. Yet the person applying for the job might say they’re a cat because they like cats, not because they’re a predator that stalks and kills their prey.

In the end it all comes down to a few things about job openings, a business will always end up getting more applications than they have open positions. Some people will have to be cut. But questions like these and others that are just dumb to even ask could all be eliminated with one very simple way: have the employee wait 5-10 minutes in the waiting room, and ask the receptionist their opinion of them, and what they did (or use security footage). That’s it. If they practically bite the head off the receptionist, you’ve got a better idea of what type of person they are than what type of animal they are. If they’re polite, look around, check out any awards, pictures, etc you’ve got up about your business – you know they’re interested in your company. If they sit like a dead log and don’t even check out the rules of the business that might be on the wall, you can figure out other things.

Undress code

by | January 13, 2009 | In society 1 Comment

What would you do if your workplace had an undress code — you know, a dress code but it said you had (or could) go naked?

If you’re like many people you’re picturing your co-workers naked right now, and probably thinking how to get that image out of your head — if not, you are now.  But I’ll add the important distinction between “naked” and this type:  you can wear an apron, provided by the company (yet it’s yours alone – you get to keep it), that will cover up everything but your shoulders and your butt.  Bending over is at your own risk (think hospital gown, with less upper back coverage).

And let’s say that’s your retail uniform (those in offices may be allowed to go completely naked if they so desire).

But your workplace gives you a few conditions and just general information about the policy (assuming it’ll be legal and without repercussions):

  1. No commenting about size, poking, touching, or anything else that you wouldn’t do if the people were dressed (sexual harassment policy still stands).  And a security officer will be on hand during work to take care of any problem customers (yep, they touch — they get charged).
  2. You won’t be seen by people outside if you don’t want to be (dark front windows or something to block on-lookers if the town requires, otherwise you’ll be put in the back and “hidden”).
  3. A check-in person (fully clothed) will notify all people that employees are “naked”, and let them decide whether to enter (if required by the town)
  4. All employees will be 21 or older (or 18 — but they will be adults)
  5. You will be paid a living wage (not min. wage), benefits, and everything else of a normal job, you just have an “undress code” instead of a “dress code”
  6. Shoes (“flip-flop”, “thongs” or even regular shoes) will be allowed and recommended to prevent injury — and all employees will be told to use their own town when sitting on furniture.
  7. A safe place will be provided for your clothes (since you won’t be driving to work that way), and any personal effects
  8. All security tapes will only be reviewed by naked people, who are so around the other employees, and only seen by police with a warrant (so it’s “fair” — no clothed people will get to stare at the “naked” ones).
  9. All employees are given 5 days where they can be partially dressed, or otherwise “hidden” from the main area, no questions asked, for any “personal” reasons.
  10. You’ll have the option of wearing a company-logo apron that covers everything but your shoulders and butt.

Sound really weird?  Perhaps, of course if you search for “Lush’s Green Days” you’ll find just this, if even just for a day (and they’re in the USA too!)  But think of it this way, it’s just the dress code – only instead of saying “business casual” or “khakis and red shirt” they’re saying “naked with an apron optional”.  There would be positions within the company that you had to wear clothing for safety if nothing else (like shipping/receiving, cooking, etc).

But here’s the question — if you knew this in advance, answer these questions:

Would you:

  • Shop there, or do business with the company? (keep in mind, there’d be men and women working there — of course given business practices, probably more women on the floor than men overall)
  • Apply for a position there, and if so, in the “naked” part, or clothed part?

Apparently in the State of Washington there’s a pizza joint whose employees accidently left the heat turned on 55ºF one night — only to be told the next day that “no one can turn the heat on now”.

It was said by employees that the temperatures inside the store drop to below freezing when it’s cold outside, because the exhaust fan is really good at sending the oven heat out of the store.

The reporters sent to the store said it was 55ºF inside when they arrived, but noticed something interesting: the real boss had a space heater in her room to keep warm.

If true, that the place gets really cold in the winter and such, it’s a very sad thing to think that a business would even consider making workers do their jobs in freezing and cold temperatures (especially since they weren’t hired to work in a freezer or other extreme temperature place [which do have requirements for working in them]). While some may find 55ºF comfortable, there’s probably more that consider that to be “chilly” or even “cold” let alone below freezing temps. It should be unthinkable to force employees to work in such temps when there’s no reason for it. And there, sadly, needs to be laws passed now to specify temps for working conditions — at least in ranges to give businesses some room for flexibility.

But even from a general business standpoint: how is having your workplace potentially being freezing good for bringing in customers from the “cold”? And better yet, exactly what does it do for the pizzas? Can you imagine making food at home, then immediately putting it from the oven to the freezer for, say, 10 minutes? Is that really going to to be hot and delicious pizza — or some luke-warm one?

New Year

by | January 1, 2009 | In general No Comments

It’s 2009. The time of year where those still writing checks mess up the dates, and checks from Jan 2008 are still potentially “valid” (as they could have just been a mistake of the year). And this year, it’s also the year of a new President in the United States – although that would be true no matter who won.

When people spend more time debating about religion’s place in government, or even  whether or not the United States of America is considered a Christian nation or not (despite, say, the constitution not mentioning God, saying there can’t be a test for public offices, and a document outright saying it’s not a Christian nation), this time of year leads to one of the biggest controversies in a sense that people get all bent out of shape about:  “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas”

Now when you really think about it, one has to wonder — exactly why is it that people complain?  In December there’s Chanukah (Hanukkah), Advent, New Years Eve, some even say Kwanzaa and Festivus, winter solstice — and Christmas (and probably a number more holidays). When someone says “happy holidays” they’re including every holiday in December, for every person and whatever beliefs they may have. When they say “Merry Christmas” they’re leaving out all the holidays but one. Yet people think that “happy holidays” is an attack against Christianity — when it’s really an attack on everything but Christianity.

Just as with everything in life, it’s all based on perceptions.

We make this comment now since the version we’re currently running is drastically different than the prior versions — and we’re needing to make sure everything’s working without too much of a problem.

Promises, Promises

by | December 8, 2008 | In government No Comments

So how many campaign promises will Obama discard, forget, or just outright say “I had no intention of doing it” (or in politician speak: “it’s important to realize that some things take time for adjustment and support to gain momentum”)? Some of them? All of them? Or better yet, given the different people, his own comments, the media/etc, do we even know what he stood for at the start? Or perhaps the best question of it all: is it even slightly surprising that he isn’t even put in office, yet he’s already going against things he said he was going to do (according to some of his supporters as well)?

To be honest, no one should even be slightly surprised. He’s a politician – and a good one. But that isn’t to say he’s a good ethical person, just that he knows how to manipulate the masses to get what he wants. As is the way of the political machine; politicians are the best manipulators of the crowd, at least in larger state-federal elections.

The big question on my mind isn’t why he’s not doing what he’d say he’d do (or so the reports say), but why is it that people are shocked or even reporting on it? Everyone knew, or should, that his campaign was the same as all the others: say whatever gets you elected, and be quick on your feet when you’re caught being on both sides.

It’s something that many people would be for: making sure all Americans have healthcare, and make sure businesses have to provide it — and kids have to have it too.

But if you think about it, you’ll realize that this has two very bad things that can happen if implemented as such:
1) Businesses have to pay double, triple or more to get health care for their workers than they’re currently paying — so they lay off half their workforce, or provide “healthcare” as in “you’re on your own unless dieing” (and still lay off 10-25%)
2) People working at the businesses will have the ability to have health care, but instead of being optional, $100-200 will be taken out from every paycheck, without a raise (so they’ll be making less money each month).
3) [potential] Parents will have to spend a $100-300/paycheck that they currently don’t spend to also cover their kids, as they may eliminate free kids health care if businesses have to provide it.