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Deceitful employee testing

Every so often, the less salubrious news sources carry articles about "Boss uses <stupid ploy> to judge a person's character and won't hire anybody who fails".
These stories are often lifted from that stellar source of global news, Reddit.

Five that crop up fairly frequently are:

  • Perform a lunch interview, and base the hiring decision on whether or not the person put salt/pepper on their food before trying it.
  • Bring the prospective employee a drink, and base the hiring decision on whether or not they take the cup back to where it came from.
  • Set up the interview with a leg of the chair slightly shorter, and base the hiring decision on whether or not the person requests a different chair.
  • Weird questions such as "If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?".
  • Asking things like "What is the most traumatic experience to happen in your personal life?"

The so-called bosses will tell you that this is a way of determining "attitude" and seeing if the candidate will be a good fit.
But, wait.

There's an itty bitty hitch here. At this point you're not an employee. You're a prospective employee. Which means that as much as you have to show all your best traits to impress the interviewer, the interviewer and the company in general needs to do the same in return.

So let's look at this again, in more detail.

  • Perform a lunch interview, and base the hiring decision on whether or not the person put salt/pepper on their food before trying it.
    While I fully understand the idea that a person should test their food prior to adding salt and pepper, the truth of the matter is that in the drive to reduce salt consumption, and to be kinder to people with less able digestion, the amount of such condiments on food is greatly lower than it used to be. Pretty much any child of the 70s or 80s in the UK who ate at fish&chip shops will be able to tell you that there isn't one single solitary chip sold today that's anything like as salty as their childhood chips were. Hell, in the years before I stopped eating burgers, I think the burger joints pretty much gave up on salting their chips.
    So all you're really going to determine from this test is that the candidate likes salt (or pepper), and it'll probably take them to an early grave.
    There is nothing at all wrong with adding condiments prior to testing the food if they have a wealth of experience in that being a necessity (and in the case of pepper, you can see/smell it so tasting is not always necessary).
  • Bring the prospective employee a drink, and base the hiring decision on whether or not they take the cup back to where it came from.
    The cup test is an interesting one. The candidate is taken on a tour, and will end up with a cup of coffee or tea to drink during the interview. Now, the test is whether or not they take the cup back or if they leave it on the table.
    Well, as an employee you should take your damn cup back. As a person being interviewed, that's something that the interviewer should do. I mean, you don't take your plates into the kitchen for washing in a restaurant do you?
  • Set up the interview with a leg of the chair slightly shorter, and base the hiring decision on whether or not the person requests a different chair.
    I would expect the interviewer to ensure beforehand that everything is good prior to the interview. To request a replacement chair during risks embarrassing them if it's something they overlooked or forgot about.
  • Weird questions such as "If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?".
    I understand that they want to see if you're capable of thinking in an obscure or atypical way in order to approach problems in a different way that might work better (yet, strangely enough, they would probably baulk at hiring an obviously autistic person who's entire life is thinking atypically), but the problem is that there is no common frame of reference. I mean, it's like asking "are you orange or purple? [*]". What? Seriously, what are the applicable attributes of, say, Garibaldi or Nice or Jammie Dodgers that would make one more suitable than the other?
    Most guys can't imagine themselves as girls to understand why Se Acabó is actually an important thing, so how the hell are we supposed to picture ourselves as a bloody biscuit, and give some sort of coherent answer? There's out of the box, and then there's outside context.
    For what it is worth - I would choose to be a Rich Tea biscuit. To end my brief biscuity life being dunked into a lovely a perfectly fine way to go.
    * - so, a Catholic bishop or a Buddhist monk? Hmmm...
  • Asking things like "What is the most traumatic experience to happen in your personal life?"
    Oh... wow... Okay, well, let's see...
    "Daddy came home one day with a gun and shot mummy twice in the tummy. Then he violently penetrated my bunghole before shooting himself in the head. I was so traumatised I went Lizzie Borden on the old couple next door. Spent three years in a psychiatric facility. But I'm alllll better now. They even let me use scissors." <big crazy smile>
    Honestly, I would be quite miffed if somebody asked me that, even though pretty much the most traumatic thing I've had to deal with is the death of a parent (and compared to some people's lives, that makes me the lucky one). One should respect that there should be a clear boundary between personal life and work life. If you don't want me throwing stuff around the office because my cat died, don't ask questions like that. It's none of your goddamn business. So, sorry, but the sacrastic horror tale at the top is quite likely to be my actual response, 'cos a simple "screw you" pales in comparison to a pleasing dose of horror.

In short, these questions seem a lot less an actual empirical way of testing a candidate's personality and a lot more a power-crazed interviewer abusing the interview process based upon misbegotten beliefs. They might as well have me interpret Rorschach designs (which, in an online test, indicated that I have some degree of psychological disturbance; gee, ya think?).

I would be especially annoyed about the wonky chair. That is outright deceitful, and it actually says quite a lot about the culture of the company that they would think it acceptable not only to trick candidates in that way, but use it as criteria for hiring.

Sorry, but if I was in an interview like that and I sussed this was what was going on, I'd likely bring the interview to a close. Even if it was a job that I think I would like, I could not imagine being happy working in a place that engages in such behaviour.

Remember, at this point one is not an employee, so the company has to impress the person as well as the person impress the company. It's a two way thing.


All about meeeee!

Of course, following that, I got stuck on the Open Psychometrics Project. Oh boy...

  • Big Five
    • I (Extroversion) = 6
      II (Emotional stability) = 66
      III (Agreeableness) = 5
      IV (Conscientiousness) = 36
      V (Imagination) = 52
    Or: An imaginative but cynical introvert who wants to be left alone to get stuff done.
  • Which fictional characters am I most like?
    • Elliot Alderson (Mr. Robot) 87%, L (Death Note) 85%, David Levinson (Independence Day) 83%, Rintarou Okabe (Steins;Gate) 83%.
    Don't see it myself, but okay. A mad hacker type. I wish...
  • Phonetic Associations
    Given a list of nonsense words, pick what they sound like (does 'fnub' mean old or new?)
    • I scored 22/50. The average is 42.1, and people picking at random would score 25.
      One should note that people with autism typically score lower than normal.
    It's also called the Bouba/kiki effect.
  • AMBI (combines eight well known tests in one)
    "I try to be with someone else when Im feeling badly" (sic) - seriously? Check your grammar and orthography!
    • ...screenfuls...
    There's no way I'm typing all that out. So just repeat "an imaginative but cynical introvert who wants to be left alone to get stuff done.
    I do like the "I xxx at parties" questions that lack an "I don't go to parties" option.
    Oh, and "Neutroticism" in the results, is that an extra test for bonus points, or was this test put together by the teenager on work experience?
  • IQ
    • IQ = 113; memory = 110, verbal = 126, spatial = 112
    A little above average but nothing special. But, then, my concentration needs a lot longer than that to warm up, and I think that "closest dot" nonsense brought my score down as I pretty much sucked at it.
  • Nonverbal immediacy
    • 74 (average male = 93.8, female = 102.0)
    Yes, I'll wave my arms around (see below) but no, I won't be looking you in the eye.
  • Conspiracy theorist
    • No, I don't believe they're covering up aliens or that Greys/lizards/George Soros secretly runs the world.
      I do, however, believe that some governments (or parts of such) perform secretive tests on citizens (potentially without any sensible form of administrative oversight), and also that a depressing amount of "science" is being manipulated.
I'll stop here in order to talk about that last one, plus there's only so many tests...

Tin foil hats

Firstly, the science being manipulated. Numerous examples through the years of companies getting people in to "do the research" and either hinting like crazy at the expected answer, or simply pulling the research if it doesn't conform to the expected result. The dangers of tocacco, the dangers of lead in petrol, the dangers of certain weedkillers, and the massive hooha over whether or not this planet will be habitable by humans in a hundred years' time. I believe that there is something that I would refer to as antiscience where certain individuals (or groups) get paid to discredit existing work in order to make a clear cut issue a lot less certain. Then, business as usual, right?

As for the government tests? Well, mom used to tell me that as a child she had orange-glowing radium rods shoved up her nostrils for a reason I forget. Asides from the "holy crap, what?" reaction, I pretty much put it down to American medicine being in the dark ages back then. Her dentist, for example, used a drill operated by pressing a foot pedal repeatedly to spin a flywheel (ouch!); and she remembers walking in the early hours in Ocean City (on holiday) and seeing tractors spraying DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) on the beaches to keep them clean. DD-freaking-T,

Well, a few months ago I came across this:

Between 1948 and 1954, funded by the federal government, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Hospital inserted radium rods into the noses of 582 Baltimore, Maryland schoolchildren as an alternative to adenoidectomy.

Where I found it? Wikipedia's article on Unethical human experimentation in the United States (a list which is freakishly long and has a frightening amount of horrible things done to children).

Over this side of the ocean, they did similar things at Porton Down, which has a history of accepting people for testing things like a cure for the common cold, and giving them nerve agents instead to see what effect these things had (exposing some 11,000 people to these agents between 1939 and 1989).

Some measure of testing, informed testing with consent, is often necessary to advance medicine. My mother agreed to try the drug that ultimately killed her (although, to be fair, had she not died quickly she would have died slowly so that was a factor in the decision); and I very much hope that what happened to her was recorded and fed back to the makers of the drug. Not for a want of compensation or suing anybody's arse off, but simply because - even as I said at the time - the failures are every bit as important as the successes.

But to bring people in for testing something, lie about what it is, and give them toxins? Jeez...

Also, did you ever wonder why the US tested its nukes in Nevada instead of, say, some remote Pacific island? The amount of testing that took place between 1951 and 1962 dumped huge amounts of radioactive material into the air - many times more than Chernobyl's little fart.
Well, the winds of the region usually took the fallout into southern Utah, particularly St. George. Clearly contamination-related incidents (leukemia, various cancers, etc) had notable increases. But, really, the testing dumped radioactive material all over many parts of the US, and it may have affected in particular children drinking milk in their morning cereal. You can't tell me that this wasn't known or expected. No, I think it was a deliberate study to see what sort of side effects a bomb would have, over and above the "big bang" damage.
Leading to this:

So, sorry. Governments that blatantly lie, line their own pockets, give cushy contracts to friends, and have organisations that use the populace as guinea pigs... it's not tinfoil hat territory, it's demonstrably true.



When I was a toddler, I didn't speak until... I dunno, three or something. Later than was normal.
A little later on, I didn't want to speak. I think I might have been seven or so. It wasn't that I didn't want to speak at all, I simply didn't want to speak to people I didn't know. Which was just about everybody.
For a short time, I attempted to use a very simplified version of sign language to help me to communicate. I am guessing that it was what would now be known as Makaton. Unfortunately my dyspraxia was quite a lot worse when I was young, and any form of sign language (Makaton or BSL) is only useful if both people in the conversation understand what's being communicated. It's kind of useless when you're at school with a teacher who's attitude is "speak up or shut up".

I don't consciously remember any of it. As I got a little older and a little more willing to explore the outside world, I started to communicate in a more typical manner. I think, to be honest, mom's last minute decision to take me on the cruise on the Canberra helped a lot here, as I got to interact with all sorts of people of varying nationalities. I think she was worried that I would be an oddball, but I got on with lots of people, the only odd thing was spending large chunks of daytime (when the playroom was closed) on deck reading (disclaimer: that probably means I did a billion odd things but they seemed perfectly normal to me).

Suffice to say, I do tend to wave my arms around, and maybe some of it is half-remembered signing? I recall a few weeks ago I asked a co-worker if she could hear that weird noise, and I initially did so by holding my hand, index finger up, next to my head and tilting it briefly to the side (index finger away from head), and then using that same index finger to do a slow loop backwards around my ear (because a forewards loop often means crazy). I'm guessing that I probably just signed "what" and "sound", but that's just a guess. I don't remember, it just sort of happened.
I then had to use actual words. In French, no less. <sigh>

I still don't much like talking. Online, in text, like this crap, no problem. I can read and reread and tweak for hours. Or just regurgitate some words and decide "that'll do, pig, that'll do". But in speaking? There's no time to think, to organise thoughts, to go pull a book off a shelf or hit Google to check something (and then make a fool of myself because I read it wrong). I dislike telephones for the same reason.



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J.G.Harston, 15th September 2023, 22:00
I remember being, ooooh, about three, being taken to a nursery school for the first time. What I remember is people (big ones and little ones) kept trying to talk to me, annoying me as I just wanted to read the huge pile of books. Hey! Gimmie that book back! Goway, I'm reading!
Rob, 16th September 2023, 23:12
Wasn't just the yanks subjecting people to radioactives... 
BBC News - Search for Coventry women in 1960s radioactive chapatis study -66614527

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