Employee personality tests? Strongly disagree

Jessica Lumpp

Once upon a time a job application was simple. It consisted of your personal info, schooling and prior job experience. Following a great interview, you were in. But nowadays, many companies have opted to add personality profile tests to their applications most popularly provided by a company called Unicru.

Employers say these tests weed out the people who won’t fit in with their company. I think they just weed out people who have a life and don’t have time to spend two hours answering stupid questions for a minimum-wage job.

On most of the tests you are asked to choose strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree, and the same questions may be asked with different wording to catch you in a fib.

But what they must realize is most people aren’t going to reply honestly to statements that will make them look bad.

For instance, not many are going to strongly agree with statements such as: you swear when you are angry; you don’t act polite if you don’t want to; you’ve done your share of troublemaking; you do not like to meet new people and you are not afraid to tell someone off.

Those were actual statements from a Borders book store application.

Not only are these personality tests useless, but some are rather ambiguous. For example, one asked “Would you rather work on a team or by yourself?”

If you agree that you enjoy working on a team, perhaps they would think you can’t accomplish anything on your own. But if you say you prefer working alone, they might think you don’t work well with others.

It’s a catch-22. Either answer can be interpreted badly.

My mother’s friend was recently puzzled as to how to reply to “I am street smart” on an application.

Did an “agree” answer evoke images of her in a dark alley in the inner city exchanging contraband for cash? And did a “disagree” peg her as a na’ve country bumpkin who could easily be short-changed in a scam while manning the register?

As ridiculous as they are, these personality profile tests are apparently big business.

Unicru was sold to Kronos (another workforce management software company) in 2006 for $150 million. Companies pay a monthly fee per location to companies such as Kronos, and it can also cost $10,000 to $50,000 for the initial setup fee, according to the Portland Business Journal’s Web site

Retailers claim it helps reduce the turnover rate of employees. Perhaps a better way of reducing turnover rates would be to offer better wages or benefits.

Instead they spend money on these tedious tests which make prospective employees feel compelled to lie in order to appear to be the most cheerful, perfect, robotic selling clones that have ever walked a sales floor.

Jessica Lumpp is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].