These days we job applicants are assailed not just by illiterate person specifications, but also by the particularly piquant pleasure of the on-line psychometric test. These are supposed to alert employers to, well, to what some psychologist believes one can infer from the enforced answering of bizarre questions. Since I’ve perforce become familiar with being on the receiving end of these charades, I now cringe with shame that I allowed my Head of HR to persuade me that they should be introduced for some high-level posts at my last company.
Generally these tests ask you to say which of 4 statements is most like you, and which least. About 150 times usually, with different combinations, sneaky repetitions, and seemingly designed to force you into either inconsistency or lying about yourself.
An example: I’m modest about my achievements; I do most of the talking; I don’t like keeping to the rules; I keep a tidy desk.
Next question: I’m prepared to stand up for what I believe; I get anxious before big meetings; I keep my own counsel; I don’t like to show my emotions.
And always, you must tick the most and the least like you. Usually, having ticked that which is most like you, you end up having to tick something as least like you that you don’t believe, but which is the least daft choice. Or vice versa. Try them out and see. But although you can often look at an individual question and give a sensible answer, it’s the sheer number of questions, and the way they force you into corners, that most frustrates and demoralises.
At the final question I’m asked what best describes my current emotional state: You want to slit your throat from ear to ear; You feel like throwing your computer in the bin; You would glady throttle the writer of this exercise. I tick all three. The computer says I can’t tick them all. Oh yes, I fucking well can.
“Tell me, Mr No-Job, how long have you had this difficulty with anger management?”
“Oh, about 45 minutes. In fact, ever since you started asking me these damn-fool bloody questions!”
But sadly, my future employment may yet depend on this psycho-babble nonsense.