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Thursday, March 07, 2002


I was called in for a follow-up interview for the cashier/stocker position at the local health food store.

I've been declared borderline unemployable in a retail environment according to my profile results.

My personality profile, according to the DISC metric (as I answered it with respect to my intentions/projections for that particular job...) came back "perfectionist". No surprise, and a good profile for this sort of position.

But the other profile they use came back 40/100, which is exactly the cutoff below which they won't even consider a candidate. Among the highlights, their formula decided I was dishonest in giving my test answers, and that I was a high risk for dishonesty and drug abuse on the job.

Heh heh.

Ironically, though naturally, I got that score because I decided to answer the test honestly instead of trying to rig it. The test itself had two styles of questions: some questions asked about you, and others asked about your opinion of other people. The questions about other people were pretty obviously meant to get people to reveal themselves -- questions such as: "What percentage of employees do you think steal from their job?" The theory being that people tend to assume (or to justify themselves by believing) that others are like them. So if you answer the two styles of questions differently, you're assumed to be rigging the test. So I'm reading this thinking: if I really want to ace the test I should just lie through my teeth and pretend I'm a naive innocent who does no wrong and can't imagine others would do any wrong either. Or maybe to really get top scores you need to admit to stealing a dollar once. But no... I opted to be honest and declare that I've never stolen anything from an employer, always been sober on the job, but at the same time I'm fairly cynical about what the average employee is like.

So I came back as having exhibited less than average candor in taking the test. (Apparently the real me is just too unlikely to be believed.) And just in case there was any doubt how the test designers were thinking, their formula kicked out a set of questions for the manager to ask me, which went something like this (actual examples, to my best recollection of wording):

"You said you don't believe it's humanly possible to be honest all the time..."

"I did?"

"Um, let's see -- it refers to question 37... which says 'Do you think it's possible for the average employee to be honest all the time?'"

"Oh, well that's a rather different statement, isn't it? The average employee... You know, I answered most of those questions the way I did is because I had a friend who owned a cafe, and one day he installed a video camera behind the cash register without telling any of his employees, because he suspected one of his managers was stealing large amounts of money from him. Turned out he was right. But much to his dismay he also learned that every employee he had was pocketing at least a few dollars every day."

(Looks rather distraught...) "That's not the sort of thing a manager likes to hear..."

"Yeah, I know" I said. (And what was he telling me here? If he were anyone else, I'd think he was telling me I should have lied on the test. But this guy is so straight laced you could slice an organic carrot with his shoestrings.)

And so on it went for all the questions -- they had translated my stated opinions about others into opinions about myself, as if it were just unimaginable that I could have any more virtue myself than I believed of the average employee.

So... I saw all this coming but didn't nip it in the bud. I remember trying to decide when I took the test whether to answer what I knew they wanted to hear, or to be honest. And I opted for being honest, for the perhaps stupid reason that I'm simply always honest and I didn't want to muck with either my reputation or self-image (I would have to work with this man for many months, after all, so am I to make a list of my lies and review them daily so I don't slip up and tell him an anecdote one day that betrays my actual knowledge or outlook?). Well, so much for my reputation in any event.

And I can hear Jaffo and others slapping their foreheads over this--calling me arrogant, or that I'm playing the martyr, or having too cynical a view of others, or "what do you expect???", or any of a number of such accusatory bromides regularly thrown my way in lieu of empathy since, apparently, my life works this way because I have a bad attitude? Well, maybe so, but it's my attitude because I believe it to be the best one. So :P

Anyway, I just think it's funny more than anything; because it is both so inevitable and so backwards at the same time. Simon Funk: unemployably dishonest and prone to drug abuse! Heh. (Oh, and another choice quote: "Heh, I don't even drink coffee!" "We sell coffee..." "Ur, yeah." [open mouth, insert foot?])

At this point I think I'm in the "we'll call you if we're desperate" category. I imagine they'll offer me the job once I've made arrangements to leave the island.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com