Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Personality Plus

My winning and not-very-threatening smiling face! You can count on me to be the face of your organization!

As part of my new job requirements, I was asked to fill out a personality questionnaire and to make sure that my persona was a ‘good fit’ with my working environment. I wish that the mere concept of a personality inventory was as laughable in the real world as it was in my small corner of academia, but alas, that was not the case. The results of my personality test, I was told, would be treated very seriously and could even reverse the offer of employment (if they came back with the profile of a sociopath, I’m assuming?) Needless to say, it was with a heavy and somewhat nervous heart that I logged in and proceeded to answer the 120 questions.

I received my ‘results’ in the mail just the other day (something that had never happened with the two other personality tests I was asked to fill out for other jobs). Scanning over the scores and written summaries of my profile only confirmed my belief that personality tests are a load of crap. Take, for instance, the following:

“Independence is a bit lower than average… Dana probably prefers group activities and collaborative efforts to individual activities.”

Hmm… a quick survey of my, oh—entire life—indicates that I, in fact, loathe and detest group activities and have even been considered a bit of a hermit in my social life. I shudder to remember the horrors of team sports in phys. ed. class (I always sucked), group projects from K-12 (I always did most, if not all, of the work, and resented my slack-ass peers at every step of the way), and even ‘collaborative efforts’ at other jobs I have held (I either held back and said nothing or pushed forward and did most of the work. Again.) Where is this ‘lower than average independence’ rating coming from? And while we’re on the subject, does this mean I’ll have to change my Destiny’s Child ‘Independent Woman’ cell phone ring??! (Note: I don’t own a cell phone. But if I did, BeyoncĂ© would totally be rocking my ring.)

“Stress Tolerance is slightly higher than average and suggests the ability to withstand adverse events and stressful situations. Dana generally copes with stress actively and effectively. She is probably a calm person and rarely gets overly anxious and agitated.”

Quick paraphrase: Dana sure knows how to fake a high level of stress tolerance on personality inventories. People who know her in real life would probably not describe her as calm (and to those that do: hahaha!!!), and she certainly did not win the ‘least likely to get anxious or agitated’ award in her high school yearbook. Refer to previous posts like this one and this one to get a general sense of her passive-aggressive coping techniques and her wildly un-calm responses to adverse events and stressful situations.

“Flexibility: The responses indicate feelings of being unable to change old habits or outdated opinions.”

Who are you calling outdated??! (Proceeds to pencil in bushy 80s eyebrows with eyeliner and to examine the elastic of her stirrup pants.) Maybe I like shoulder pads in my powersuits… did you ever consider that, huh?

Other things of note: Apparently I have a “reasonably normal grasp of what’s going on around” me, but my approach to solving problems is only “moderately successful”. I scored the lowest on the Reality Testing subscale, meaning I have difficulty separating out the real from the unreal. Meh. My own personal opinion is that everybody else has closed themselves off to broader realities and possibilities. But if you don’t want to see the last unicorn, that’s your problem, not mine…


carmelclose said...

Many years ago I used those personality tests to interview and hire potential employees - then I myself took the the test and threw it in the garbage when the results came back. I will NEVER use those again!!! Whatever happened to getting to know someone and your "gut" feeling? If your new employer has a brain, they won't put 100% stock in the test!!!

dana said...

I know. Sometimes I think my job should be to go around dissuading employers who use personality tests as a hiring tool. Seriously. I know it means less numbers and supposedly objective information to base decisions on, but numbers added together never make a whole person anyway.

Robin said...

Well, it's so nice to get to know the "real" Dana! The one that resembles a sheep with no idea what's going on and who doesn't know how to get out of a wet paper bag. - NOT LIKELY! What a silly and corporate-culture biased test. I'm sure you'll win them over by just being you.

(Although it would be fun to see you in an '80s power suit!)

granolagirl said...

I hope that I do not have to take any of these daunting personality tests in my upcoming job search, it sounds so nerveracking!

karen said...

Dana.. you are so lovely. Personality tests be damned, I;d hire you for teh cute alone.

Delia said...

These tests sound so stupid!! Yet, here you go, what a perfect topic for your PhD!!! :) This is why I (still) love being in school: criticizing is actually a full time (and legitimate) job!!!