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

Martin Burns martin at easyweb.co.uk
Tue Sep 3 11:57:00 CDT 2002

On Tue, 3 Sep 2002, Chris Marsh wrote:

> 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
> ended.

They're trying to jump-start the interview - both are very typical
interview questions.

> 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)

Correct, which is why it's hard to fit into this framework. But if you
have an example of how you went beyond the norm, then that's a good one
to have.

>, basic
> numeracy and literacy, and  customer service skills are required. Which
> is all fine and dandy until you have to answer number two.
> "I had to read an internal memo. I understood it."

And how did you demonstrate that? It's always external behaviour which is
important, and assessable. Show what happened as a result of that.

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

That's much better, but it needs details, details.

> 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?

Nope, no psychology. But can you suggest a *better* way of reporting how
to assess a potential employee than asking them to prove:
a) They understand what the job's about
b) Whether they can do it through evidence of having done it (or
something close) before?

(same goes for appraising existing employees, especially if they're not
working next to the person appraising them, a typical situation in our


"Names, once they are in common use, quickly
 become mere sounds, their etymology being
 buried, like so many of the earth's marvels,
 beneath the dust of habit." - Salman Rushdie

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