Employers shouldn’t play psychologist: strongly agree

By By Clayton Norlen

By Clayton Norlen

Online applications offer more information to prospective employers than your employment history, qualifications and educational background. They take a Sigmund Freud-like look into your head and figure out why you tick the way you do.

Recently, a friend of mine was looking for a new job. He followed the usual routine of going in and asking for an application, but the majority of the businesses didn’t give him a sheet of paper. Instead, he was directed to the company’s Web site to fill out an online application.

Intrigued, I sat down and filled out an application for Best Buy to see how different the application process was online versus the old fashioned way (filling out a piece of paper).

The applications started out with the standard fare you regurgitate time and time again: name, address, social security number, education and references.

After the usual info there is one stipulation before you can submit your application: You have to take a personality test that asks questions only your mom could get away with.

Here is the disclaimer and some questions pulled from an online application from Best Buy. You are required to answer these questions before you can submit your application for consideration.

“The following are statements about many attitudes and experiences, read each statement and select the answer that best describes you. Work quickly–choose the answer that comes to mind first.”

Do you strongly disagree, disagree, agree or strongly agree?

1. “You change from feeling happy to sad without any reason.”

Why do you need to know??disagree.

2. “There is no use in having close friends. They always let you down anyway.”

It’s happened in the past, but I still have them?disagree.

3. “It is maddening when the court lets guilty people go free.”

It’s maddening when they convict innocent people…disagree.

4. “You look back and feel bad about things you’ve done.”

I’d hope we all do. It’s called a conscience?strongly agree.

5. “Your moods are steady from day to day.”

There are 24 hours in a day, everyone’s moods change?agree.

For many of these questions, I’d expect to see a degree confirming a doctorate in psychology before divulging my innermost feelings. Instead, the manager at Best Buy is analyzing the results and trying to decide if I really knew all I claimed to know about video games and high definition television.

The application forces you to agree to a background and drug test before you even make it to the personality portion. What more could a potential employer demand of someone who wants to sell televisions on commission? Should people also be required to submit to lie-detector tests and be interrogated before they can get an interview? I doubt a full psychic evaluation is necessary for any position at Best Buy, and I doubt the results are ever telling of the individuals who take them.

Who someone is can’t be reduced to questionnaire responses. More often than not, applicants tailor their responses to what they believe the company wants to hear. No one is going to admit that his or her mood shifts throughout the day, especially on an application.

If employers who are administering these types of evaluations really want to get accurate information, they should do what people had to do before the Internet–meet in person. Only then can you begin to judge if a person is right for a position.

Until there are enough psychologists flooding the job market for every company to have one on salary, I think it is best companies don’t go playing Dr. Freud.