Friday, November 11, 2011

Can you help ASAN in their investigation into improper use of personality testing in job hiring?

"The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is investigating employers' use of personality tests to screen job applicants as part of applications for employment and the broader hiring process. These tests may unfairly screen out qualified Autistic applicants and those with other hidden disabilities through the use of subjective questions unrelated to job performance"

I query the use of the word "tests" in this statement, as I doubt that personality features of job applicants are put to any test in most hiring processes. Much more likely job applicants will be given a multiple-choice questionnaire to fill in, which is not a test of any type, but a mere self-report battery of questions, of which the truth of the answers given by job applicants often cannot be checked or tested.

I you live in the US and have been turned down for a job in which personality testing was used, ASAN would like to hear from you:

I've been protesting about this kind of thing for many years now. Irrespective of whether autism or a perception of autism is a factor in the rejection of job applicants who are rejected because of percieved personality traits that are irrelevant to the job, this type of practice is unfair and unecessary and discriminatory. Formal personality testing is not the only method by which job applicants are discriminated against on the basis of personality. I was once told that I failed to win a job due to a lack of smiling in the job interview. How much a person naturally smiles is a feature of personality and I beleive is also associated with gender, and there are a number of ways in which this type of discrimination coould be interpreted. I could characterize it as me being discriminated against because I refuse to comply with feminine stereotypes of body language and behaviour. I could also characterise this as discrimination on the basis of autism or personality. Either way, if smiling is not an essential and important feature of the job, and the applicant is otherwise fully qualified, the applicant should be knocked-out of the competition based on a smile-count. It is my intuition that smiling in a male job applicant would not be judged as such an important selection criterion, and that is just fine, but not fine for us females who are often expected to jump through hoops in the workplace that males are not required to negotiate.

My best advice to any job applicant who is faced with a personality questionnaire with questions that appear to be irrelevant to the job - if you have the choice open to you, politely withdraw your application for the job and go look for another job opportunity, or else do your best to figure out what the "correct" answers are, and give them irrespective of whether this is a reflection of your true situation. A bunch of discriminatory dicks who foist such rubbish onto job applicants deserve to be lied to. As they say, you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer!


Anonymous said...

Rather than boycotting companies that use such tests, here's an alternative plan. Do lots of research, learn how the tests work, find out what answers the employer is likely to want, and tell them exactly what they want to hear. And land your dream job with the high salary.

Of course, the objection can arise that this is in some way "cheating". But the questions are usually so subjective that you don't actually have to straight-out lie to give the answers that are being asked for, and you're certainly unlikely to break any laws or rules, or ever be found out. And if employers are unfairly using such questionnaires, why not try beating them at their own game?

It's easy to manipulate all kinds of employment testing; as well as personality questionnaires, you can also significantly improve scores on IQ type tests by practice. So such testing is not very fair - but anyone, whatever their personality, can have a go at manipulating the system to their own advantage. Then, once you have deviously worked your way up to CEO position you can bring down the system from within, and abolish those personality tests once and for all...

Mr Anon (in a devious mood)

Lili Marlene said...

You're so devious, you could get a job in a PR company, Mr Anon!

I suspect that you aren't the first person to come up with this master-plan. I think there might even be books on the market that give hints about negotiating these questionnaires.

krex said...

How to win friends and influence people was a book I once found on a BF's book made me nauseous just seeing it there and wondering what type of manipulations he was using on me . I know there are aspies who hate the stereotype that we can't lie but I must say that it is beyond difficult for is painful.

I was once fired from a waitressing job for not smiling enough and refusing to get my hair "permed". I had no idea that the request might be illegal . I avoided even applying for a job because I was told that we had to take an MMPI and having "flunked" it before, (they said I was being deceptive which I found hilarious).The MMPI is a nightmare for autistics because it is full of ambiguities...(Do I like tall women ???)

Lili Marlene said...

I agree that so many of the questions in psychological quesionnaires are absurd in the abscence of contextual information. So often I want to tick another box for "it depends", which is never an option offered. So many of these stings are so stupidly designed that it is impossible to answer them honestly.

That book about winning friends and influencing people is a book that the apparently autistic billionaire Warren Buffet, the good mate of that other autistic millionaire Bill Gates, found hugely useful when he was a brilliant and strange young man floundering on the social scene, so maybe we should have a little bit of respect for the book. Buffet also had a raging autistic lifelong obsession with making money from a very early age to help him along towards making his first million. And when I was a kid I was busy collecting natural found objects and cataloging them by their proper Latin names, which has led me to a life of geeky poverty. Great.