[thechat] Application Forms (Was: predictive indexing - is it evil ?)

Chris Marsh chris at webbtech.co.uk
Tue Sep 3 11:32:00 CDT 2002


> The problem with any of such profiling questions is that
> situations are never black and white. Without context, you
> have no way of predicting behaviour. If you asked me, "do you
> get along with people", I'd say "yes". Does that mean I'll
> get along with everyone? Of course not. Another such question
> is "do you prefer to work in a team or by yourself". Again,
> no reliable answer to this one. My answer would be "who's in
> the team and what are they doing?". There have been
> situations in my work where I've got things done faster by
> doing it solo, but there are other times when I've worked
> with great people to produce great work. Unfortunately, the
> "profiling" test don't allow "it depends" as an answer.
> You're either here or there.

It's funny that this line of discussion has come up. My girlfriend is
currently applying for jobs now that we have moved due to my job. I have
a CV, but I cannot remember the last time I actually filled in an
application form for a job. Both she and I are getting very frustrated
with our attempts to fill in these forms. Here is an example of one of
the sets of questions for a sales assistant and cashier position:

1) Name three skills that are necessary for this position.
2) Describe a situation involving each of these skills. In each
description tell us what happened, what YOU did, and how the situation

Number one *seems* straightforward, until you realise that number two is
waiting for you. For a sales assistant/cashier I would have said that
honesty (although I guess strictly speaking it isn't a skill), basic
numeracy and literacy, and  customer service skills are required. Which
is all fine and dandy until you have to answer number two.

"The situation was as follows: I took some currency from the customer in
order to complete the transaction. I put it in the register without
stealing it. The customer walked out with their goods."

"I had to read an internal memo. I understood it."

"A customer approached me with a query. They were very angry. I resolved
their query without losing my temper/referred them to the manager."

What is the company getting at with a question like this? This is not a
mere rant, if anyone can help me out a little here I would appreciate
it. Is this just a dumb set of questions, or is there a hidden
psychological test beneath it?

Many thanks in advance

Chris Marsh

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