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30 June 2010

Pre-employment testing [More:]I just finished an online job application for an executive-type job at a large corporation. Once I finished the application, I had to go through a bunch of tests. Some were timed logic questions, some were multiple choice, there were a bunch of questions where you had to choose the statement you most agreed with. All fine so far.

Then, the last section was beyond horrible. There were two screens, side by side. One had complicated logic questions. The other was an email inbox that kept filling up with emails. You had to answer the logic question within 60 seconds while reading the emails and then answering questions based on the information in the emails. The emails went away if you didn't open them in time.

A lot of the emails were pointless filler ("did anyone see my insurance manual?") but a lot of them had what seemed like important information. Then there would be a question on one of the emails (What time to employee time sheets have to be handed in by next week because of the holiday weekend?) Meanwhile the logic questions on the other side kept rolling along.

It. Was. Impossible. to keep up with both sides. I answered a few questions but probably less than half.

There is probably a minimum score needed for my application to even be considered. It's now obvious that I'll never be an air traffic controller. I really hope I didn't just torpedo my chances at this company.

Does anyone have any insight into these types of tests?

Wow, I've never heard of that. It sounds horrendous.
posted by Senyar 30 June | 10:31
That sounds like something out of the movie "Brazil."
posted by BoringPostcards 30 June | 10:41
Holy crap. I have test anxiety already and that would reduce me to tears.
posted by desjardins 30 June | 10:43
Damn how is that even applicable? One hopes a future employee would be actually reading emails rather than juggling their info in an analogous way to that setup. Stupid test
posted by Firas 30 June | 10:46
FYI it's not the answers that are important with those kinds of tests. They are done strictly to show how the candidate handles stressful, unmanageable situations. They're deliberately giving you an "impossible" problem to see how well you cope with it.

fuckers. I hate HR.
posted by lonefrontranger 30 June | 10:59
You should win if you manage to ignore the email completely and not read a single one.
posted by octothorpe 30 June | 11:04
Yeah, I had a timed "logic" test once and they told me that they "didn't expect" anyone to finish it, they just wanted a general idea of how competent you were and/or how you handled stressful situations. Unfortunately, there's always one person with a photographic memory who aces the test, and that's the person who gets hired. Good luck! *whuffles*
posted by Melismata 30 June | 11:06
What company was this? Just so I can put them on my 'not unless it was the last job in the whole wide world' list.
posted by sperose 30 June | 11:41
They can't really be hiring using this mechanism, can they? For an executive job? Really? That just doesn't sound like a way to identify capable executirves. Is this post-interview or pre-screening? They may just be trying to weed out those who give up too easily so that they only end up reviewing applications from serious applicants, not online resume mills - but even so, it's Michelin-level weird.
posted by Miko 30 June | 12:04
e-kobiashi maru?


posted by lysdexic 30 June | 13:20
The test itself sounds like fun.
posted by Ardiril 30 June | 14:05
Yeah, it was designed to see how you handle stress. You aren't expected to pass, and they probably aren't even tallying how many questions you answered. I bet you did just fine!

And I can say from personal experience that pre-employment tests are created when there has been a problem with previous hires. We had one guy completely and believably lie in an interview about his Excel experience and how he taught it all the time. Now we have an Excel test. I bet someone they once hired had problems with stress and ended up, I don't know, ignoring all emails and questions. The fact that you even finished the test tells them that you won't do that.
posted by rhapsodie 30 June | 15:49
Thanks everyone. I am sure LFR and rhapsodie are right .. it's not the correct answers they're looking for so much as how well you try to keep up. The more I think about it, I am pretty sure I handled it about as well as most people. I appreciate the feedback very much.

posted by Kangaroo 30 June | 16:21
Re: our Excel test. It is more difficult than the position is expected to know. Part of the test is to see how they handle not knowing something - some ask questions, some pretend they have it under control. I had one high-ranked candidate freeze up and walk away from it because she was sure she would fail. If she had just tried it, or submitted what she could accomplish, she would have been hired. But we don't want someone who will just give up and walk away.
posted by rhapsodie 30 June | 16:29
The problem I have with tests that are supposed to measure your handling of stress or whatever is that - well, job interviews and actually having a job are very different situations. The way I react to a strange, stressful situation in an interview is necessarily going to be different than the way I react to it if I'm employed.
posted by unsurprising 30 June | 20:50
I fucking hate this sort of thing. It's a red flag for me about the company because it says "We're clueless gits who have no idea how to judge people and we like bright shiny things that cost a lot of money even though they don't do very much."

IMHO, the more complex the jumping-through-hoops phase is, the worse the company has been to work for. I used to temp at a recruitment company and got to mark aptitude tests. People who scored high on the tests were called in for interview and there didn't seem to be much combing out of the psychos, idiots and generally poisonous wannabes.

Best job I've had (current one, actually) had a single face-to-face interview where they asked me a few questions about my experience and that was it.

And, as uprising points out, the tests only measure how good you are at tests.

Ignore them, Kangaroo. Marshal your calm, serene, businessy attitude and blow them out of their socks with your can-do.
posted by ninazer0 01 July | 01:49
Gahhh! uprising = unsurprising
posted by ninazer0 01 July | 01:50
That sounds horrible.

I think you win the test by getting a better offer from someone else and never having to work for this company.
posted by marsha56 03 July | 00:22
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