Weed-Out (er, “Personality”) Tests

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The WSJ featured a story about the controversial employee personality test.  This article focuses mostly on whether personality tests are a violation of equal-employment policy.  I will leave that question aside.  My own conclusion from the story is that, contrary to news reports, the hiring market is still terrible.

Remember “weed-out courses” in college?  These were the pedantic, difficult classes that were meant to “weed out” students from pursuing a degree in medicine, for example, or engineering.  These classes existed because there were so many more students vying for a particular degree than there were actual slots in the course.  This was an easy, cost-effective way of cutting people without making individual, case-by-case decisions.

Back to the article.  Look at these employment personality tests as “weed-out courses” of the job market.  There are just so few jobs available that employers have to erect more barriers between candidates and the hiring managers.  “You didn’t pass the test” is an easier response to give people than a unique statement of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

The article states that the use of personality tests for job applicants has risen from 30% to over 60% in just five years.  Just to stock shelves, a candidate needs to pass a psychological exam?

That doesn’t sound like a recovering job market.

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