Nile

Employers doing personality tests? No, I think that most of them are smarter than that - too smart, anyway, to use formal tests which well-prepared sociopaths can pass with ease.

I think that they are also worried by the risk of institutionalising the 'people like us' selection bias - to reinforce the interviewing managers' tendency to recruit WASPS (or in England, Public Schoolboys /old Etonians / egotistical workaholics from Oxbridge / safely suburban middle-class drones / whatever the manager saw in his shaving mirror or imagined himself to be, twenty years ago).

By the way, playing to that role is a sure-fire winner at interview. Pass it on to your children.

The risk of a uniform test that reinforces and confers scientific legitimacy upon existing procedures is that less-confident people - especially women - are disadvantaged, and that creative people or exceptional talents are systematically excluded. (Admittedly, the latter are often pain in the ass to work with). Also excluded, are people from non-standard backgrounds - mature students, ex-military, returning mothers, people from other cultures. In short, some of the most useful people I've ever worked with.

In the less well-constructed tests, there's a systematic bias in favour of candidates who are skilful liars with a good knowledge of the buzzwords de jour - and a written test doesn't require eye contact when you answer "Yes, I loved team sports at school". The problem with a badly-constructed test is that it's a superbly-constructed sales pitch by the management consultants who sell these things to companies: "Yes, it's scientifically-proven that your recruitmant policies are right on track"... And now there's a paper trail to show you're not racially discriminative.

The problem with a well-constructed test is that it's all too accurate - what if you end up recruiting go-getting, self-starting, motivated individuals with team leadership qualities... And no-one else? Who will form the majority who play in the team, rather than leading it? And who will do the accounts?

All in all, formal tests run the risks of creating an intellectual monoculture. It would be a telling criticism to identify companies that actually want that; and I fear that some do. You can spot them by counting occurrences of the word 'creative' in their recruitment literature.

Informal tests are another matter, and they can be administered in a formal way: ask Pret-a-Manger how they do the final selection... Wich is why this particular snippet made me laugh:

Job candidates at investment banks have long endured dozens of interviews designed, in part, to see if new hires will get along with everyone they'll work with.

The only investment bank I've ever encountered that ended the final selection round with an informal sit-down with the team in a coffee-shop at lunchtime was [name redacted] a major Anglo-American institution with a reputation for a toxic office culture which, years later on a consultancy contract, I found to all-too-well deserved.

Then again, they were (and still are) an conglomerate of warring baronies assembled by taking over dozens of smaller institutions and brokerages. What's true in one part of the organisation might not be true in another.

But the lesson from Megabank is that twenty years of recruiting personable suburbanites with good degrees achieved uniformity, but not harmony. And every last one of them would've fitted dead-centre into any widely-used personality scoring matrix.

Read more...

Jed Christiansen

I put together a couple of YouTube "How-To" videos on prediction markets here:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=9_MXvopRqps

and

http://youtube.com/watch?v=3BJqAHGjtsI

They're both under 3 minutes long, and will hopefully be helpful!

Nile

Employers doing personality tests? No, I think that most of them are smarter than that - too smart, anyway, to use formal tests which well-prepared sociopaths can pass with ease.

I think that they are also worried by the risk of institutionalising the 'people like us' selection bias - to reinforce the interviewing managers' tendency to recruit WASPS (or in England, Public Schoolboys /old Etonians / egotistical workaholics from Oxbridge / safely suburban middle-class drones / whatever the manager saw in his shaving mirror or imagined himself to be, twenty years ago).

By the way, playing to that role is a sure-fire winner at interview. Pass it on to your children.

The risk of a uniform test that reinforces and confers scientific legitimacy upon existing procedures is that less-confident people - especially women - are disadvantaged, and that creative people or exceptional talents are systematically excluded. (Admittedly, the latter are often pain in the ass to work with). Also excluded, are people from non-standard backgrounds - mature students, ex-military, returning mothers, people from other cultures. In short, some of the most useful people I've ever worked with.

In the less well-constructed tests, there's a systematic bias in favour of candidates who are skilful liars with a good knowledge of the buzzwords de jour - and a written test doesn't require eye contact when you answer "Yes, I loved team sports at school". The problem with a badly-constructed test is that it's a superbly-constructed sales pitch by the management consultants who sell these things to companies: "Yes, it's scientifically-proven that your recruitmant policies are right on track"... And now there's a paper trail to show you're not racially discriminative.

The problem with a well-constructed test is that it's all too accurate - what if you end up recruiting go-getting, self-starting, motivated individuals with team leadership qualities... And no-one else? Who will form the majority who play in the team, rather than leading it? And who will do the accounts?

All in all, formal tests run the risks of creating an intellectual monoculture. It would be a telling criticism to identify companies that actually want that; and I fear that some do. You can spot them by counting occurrences of the word 'creative' in their recruitment literature.

Informal tests are another matter, and they can be administered in a formal way: ask Pret-a-Manger how they do the final selection... Wich is why this particular snippet made me laugh:

Job candidates at investment banks have long endured dozens of interviews designed, in part, to see if new hires will get along with everyone they'll work with.

The only investment bank I've ever encountered that ended the final selection round with an informal sit-down with the team in a coffee-shop at lunchtime was [name redacted] a major Anglo-American institution with a reputation for a toxic office culture which, years later on a consultancy contract, I found to all-too-well deserved.

Then again, they were (and still are) an conglomerate of warring baronies assembled by taking over dozens of smaller institutions and brokerages. What's true in one part of the organisation might not be true in another.

But the lesson from Megabank is that twenty years of recruiting personable suburbanites with good degrees achieved uniformity, but not harmony. And every last one of them would've fitted dead-centre into any widely-used personality scoring matrix.

Read more...

Jed Christiansen

I put together a couple of YouTube "How-To" videos on prediction markets here:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=9_MXvopRqps

and

http://youtube.com/watch?v=3BJqAHGjtsI

They're both under 3 minutes long, and will hopefully be helpful!