Intelligent Confusion

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Testing, testing

As part of the candidate selection process for a new job (which I got), I was recently required to sit personality and IQ tests, to cut down the small shortlist to just one.

I've done several of these in the past, and I'm always slightly bemused by them.

Personality tests are odd. Remember the test Stan sat in South Park with the Scientologists? They're pretty much like that. Lots of questions that all seem fairly arbitrary, with "Agree/Disagree" options. I know the goal of these things is to prove that I'm a team player who can work independently (this seems like a contradiction in itself) but prefers not to, and that I'm not a potential axe-murderer.

Also, I've done a lot of IQ tests in the past, it's just technique, with a focus on speed. But what do you do with the results? Possibilities spring to mind.
  • You must be this smart to join this company
  • We like them smart, but not too smart. Anyone too smart would be a problem (although this sounds very Dilbert-like)
  • We really can't decide between these two people, let's give it to the guy who tests better.
This might sense for big companies that are well known for attracting talent (Microsoft, Google), but this was for a really small company, where hiring all the interviewed candidates would have meant a 50% staffing increase....

Answers on a postcard, please.

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