Thursday, June 27, 2002

Interesting piece in Wednedsay's Guardian about psychometric testing.

When I graduated, I went for a host of graduate-type jobs. One was with Comag, the magazine distributor. It was in zone 112, past the airport, and not very near North London, where I was planning on living.

But I was utterly seduced by the fact you got as many free magazines as you wanted.

They loved me. We'd arranged a start date - for my highly paid executive photocopying assistant job - and the interviewer said, "just a formality, there's a psychometric test you need to fill out."

Having interviewed a bunch of graduates in my life, now, I know that I was good because I could look people in the eye and was fairly sociable. I mean, how hard can photocopying be?

Aside: I was once hiring gradautes for a conference company, and the first response I got, out of the Guardian, in fact, was a faxed reply with a brilliantly witty cover letter, from a languages graduate who lived in Highgate. I noticed from the fax address that it had probably been sent from her Dad's office.

I interviewed her first, convinced that I'd found a smart, bright, on-the-ball graduate without even having to look. There is a God. When she turned up, she was shaking, couldn't look me in the eye, and was so chronically shy that she kept her hair over her face at all times, and visibly quaked if anyone talked to her.

We sat in a meeting room, and I didn't want to say too much, as she clearly thought I/anyone was the employer from hell. And she clearly wasn't the woman her application said she was. I asked, as gently as I could, who'd written her application. "oh, er, m-m-m-m-y d-d-d-dad." I was never sure he was doing her any favours.

But back to Comag. So they sit me in a dark room with a psychometric test, and I'm twenty one and desperate to please. And I think, "I must try and be the person they want me to be." It wasn't even Belbin, it was Myers Briggs, I'm pretty sure. Anyway, I answered each question with the answer "I thought they wanted."

Afterwards, the HR woman marks it, and they come back to me with a changed demeanour. Don't want to get to close. Looking at me as if I might pull a knife any moment.

"Sasha, thanks for doing the test. We're not sure you'd, er, fit in here. Don't call us, we'll call you."

You should never lie. But especially in psychometric tests.

No comments: