A New Disturbing Trend in Job Recruitment

My sister, known on this blog as “The Sister”, owns a job recruitment agency in Montreal. She tells me that there has appeared a new and very disturbing trend in the job recruitment process. On several occasions, she found a candidate who was a perfect fit for the job and who was really liked by the prospective employers. However, the employers added a new step to the job interview process: a personality test.

These personality tests consist of prefabricated sets of multiple-choice or yes or no questions that are extremely silly and pointless. Let me share a couple of examples with you.

“Do you agree with the statement ‘It’s a jungle out there, and everybody is out for themselves’?”

What is this, people? Who asks this idiotic kind of question of professional adults? What is the “right answer” supposed to be?

The following question was part of the “personality test” administered to a person applying for a managing position:

How would you describe your leadership style?

  1. Leading by example
  2. Leading by authority

Any leader worth his or her salt would be hard pressed to answer this question. Good leadership means you know how to adapt to a variety of situations instead of choosing one vaguely defined method and imposing it on every situation.

I have no idea why employers don’t trust their instincts as to whom to hire or don’t rely on the advice of professional recruiters. Instead, they rely on these meaningless questionnaires that, of course, will weed out all the good, self-respecting candidates with an ounce of independence and original thinking.

24 thoughts on “A New Disturbing Trend in Job Recruitment

  1. Is that new in Canada? The only perid in my life where I hold full time jobs outside academia, I had to go through one of them every time I applied for a job. A friend who works in human resources told me what the right answers were supposed to be (and it’s pretty obvious anyway). I did loose a job because they asked me to draw a man in the rain (it could be stick figures), and so I did the drawing, but the man had no umbrella. Apparently, that says something important about my personality.


    1. Are you serious??

      I don’t want to sound like a broken record here but, hello, discrimination against autistics!

      In Montreal, at least, this seems like a new trend. And a very stupid new trend, too.


      1. Yep, assistant to the communication director if a marketing research firm. The other one was to work in the storage backroom of a comic book store. I got the last one, thanks to the ground and the windows I guess. Working for them was a bizarre story in itself.


        1. You had to pass a personality test and draw houses to get hired to work in the storage of a comic book shop?

          I’m starting to feel like people in this thread are trying to make fun of me. Is this even possible?

          The world never ceases to surprise me. Often, not in a good way.


          1. Even better, I’m the most disorganized person in the world, and I hate comics. I managed to be unable to find for 3 days where I had placed a shipment of 100 graphic novels that had just arrived. The storage space was probably 15′ * 15′.


  2. Oh you have no idea. I’ve had to take a few personality tests for job applications. Both were over fifty questions. It seems, too, like the lower the rank/prestige of the job, the more inane the personality test. They deal with a variety of personality issues, most of which have fuck-all to do with the job in question. For example, they all had a strong emphasis on optimism and extroversion. You know what? I’m neither, and I’m in the service industry, and I deal *wonderfully* with my customers. My perspective on, say, politicians lying (yes, that’s an actual question!) has not much to do with the job. Aaaaaahh.
    I noted some of the actual questions from one once. I’m going to try to find those for you. Very much like the political questions you were analyzing earlier, the potential answers are absurd – both over and underinclusive, not at all reflective of the way real people interact with the world.
    I do also wonder if these could be shown to discriminate against autistics and other non-NT folks.


      1. umm I don’t have them anymore. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/where-to-find-practice-personality-tests0.html <– has some examples. They ask about your personal life, how you feel when your home is messy, etc. And somehow this tells them magically about your behavior on the job. Except for how it doesn't, at all. My bedroom's messy, but I'm immaculate at work. Yes, I prefer to deal with people one on one, but that doesn't mean I can't do teamwork. Ugh.


  3. It may amuse you (and your sister) to know that inane personality tests have been a fixture of the hiring process (for corporations, at least) for generations.

    The book The Organization Man, written in the early 1950s, complains about this “new” trend (it was actually new then!), and even has a handy “How to Cheat on Personality Tests” appendix in the back! (The author knew the questions were crap, but they were crap that recruiters were looking for specific answers to, so he tells you what kind of answers they want, and why, in that appendix. No idea if those hints would still work sixty years later … I think it would be hilarious, and sad, if they did, though!)


  4. You mean, the same year I make my escape to Canada, the inane idiocy and corporate cheery nonsense I worked so hard to escape is getting imported along with me?
    I feel like a bad luck charm now.


  5. These tests are there so they can make sure their qualified applicants are easily lead, docile conformist extraverts or willing enough to have the job so they fake the answers. These are often coupled with drug tests to weed out pot smokers (the only drug that really stays in your system for a long time). .

    What sort of jobs is your sister recruiting people for?


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