personality tests, gifts for managers, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. My boss told my new boss that I’m only leaving for the money

I’m starting my new job tomorrow. Today, my current boss forwarded me his response to my new boss’s reference inquiry, no doubt because it was glowing and I’m really grateful for that. However, in response to being asked why, to his knowledge, I’m leaving, he only said “substantial increase in income.” I fear the idea that I took this new job just for money may hurt me in my new boss’s eyes. Compensation was certainly a big part of the decision, but it definitey was not the only reason.

What are your thoughts on how this answer might affect my boss’s initial impression of me, if at all?

I wouldn’t worry too much about it. You got the job, after all, so they obviously weren’t too bothered by it — and your manager is likely to put more weight on what you said your reasons for leaving were than what your boss said, and to realize that your boss might not really know much about what your reasons are.

This would be different, of course, if your boss said, “She’s leaving because we’re close to firing her” — but his actual answer sounds like it could easily be what someone might let their boss think rather than getting into the real reasons. I wouldn’t give it another thought.

2. How much weight do employers put on personality tests?

How much weight do employers give personality tests that they ask candidates to fill out? I’ve taken some for lower level jobs that I assume are basically trying to find out if you’re likely to steal, lie, and call in sick a lot. But I’ve also taken them for professional level jobs.

Recently I applied to a job about two weeks after it was posted. Normally I like to catch these when they are “fresh,” but this one escaped my notice. Still, I thought it was an interesting opportunity so I applied. Almost immediately I got an email response back saying they were “definitely” interested and to please complete their personality test they would be sending in a separate email. They say there are no right or wrong answers, but the next day I got a rejection email from them. Perhaps I don’t have enough of a personality for them? What are they looking for with these tests? How much weight are they really given? This one had some number patterns where I was asked to find the next number in the sequence, and I’m sure I did terrible on that portion, but it wasn’t a financial or remotely math related job.

It depends on the employer and on the position. In some cases, they’re assessing whether you have the traits that they’ve determined makes someone successful in the role — which could be anything from being outgoing to being process-oriented to having a thick skin. In other cases, they’re just looking for obvious problems (such as integrity issues). And still others, they barely use the results at all, considering them more “background” than a determining factor.

3. When should I begin applying for jobs if I graduate in June?

I’m a senior in college, I’ll be graduating in June. I search the internet for possible jobs daily and I’ve found a few that I think I’d be a good fit for. Some of the listings are immediate openings, which I obviously can’t do. I know from reading your blog that the hiring process can take a while, but how soon is too soon to start applying for jobs?

It depends on your industry. Most places hire for 1-3 months out, but there are also industries where it’s normal to start applying now for jobs in June. This is something where you really just need to know how your field works. If you don’t, try talking to a handful of people who can tell you firsthand. (And if it turns out you’re not in a field where hiring happens far, far in advance, then a good basic answer is to start around March.)

4. When should I express my interest in a not-yet-created position in my company?

I work in customer support at a small branch of a large corporation. Recently, I was told that the company will be creating a new inside sales position early next year, and I am interested in being considered.

I am have been told by several of the sales staff there that they think I would be very good in the role. Should I express my desire to grow into that role to my manager and the manager of that department now, or should I wait and simply apply when it is advertised? I want to be proactive but not appear to eager to leave my current position.

Talk to the manager of the department now. Otherwise, you risk them hiring someone else without even advertising the job.

5. Should I indicate that my work was part-time on my resume?

Should I indicate if work was part-time or occasional on my resume (or in my cover letter)?

My two recent jobs were part-time, one at 60% of full-time, and a parallel consulting position at about 15% time commitment. I have substantial accomplishments I can point to in each job, so I don’t think my experience will appear weak. I am more worried about appearing either a) overqualified when I apply to an appropriate job or b) disingenuous when more details come out later. Would you recommend preempting any confusion? If so, what is the best way to do it?

Nope, you don’t need to. You should mention it in the interview process if it’s relevant, but it doesn’t need to be on your resume. And actually, because you’ll be listing two jobs for the same time period, employers will be likely to assume that at least one was probably part-time anyway.

6. Should I mention my early graduation on my resume?

I graduated from university before turning 18 (about 10 years ago), but then did not pursue regular employment until 22. Should I mention my early graduation at any point, in my resume, cover letter, or hypothetical interview?

I did this on my resume at 22, in large part to “excuse” a spotty work history. At this point, I have a few years of work experience, and it seems unprofessional to mention age in any way. On the other hand, I leave a 4-year gap in my work history that I worry will raise red flags. Can you offer any suggestions on how best to present (or gloss over) this situation?

I don’t think it is a positive to mention my activities during these 4 years, which consisted of many and wildly varied short-term commitments. The skills I picked up during that period of time are better illustrated in my professional experience since then.

I don’t think you need to mention the early graduation unless it specifically comes up as relevant in an interview. If I’m doing the math right, you’ve had about six years of steady employment now, which is about what you would have (hopefully) had if you’d graduated at the more typical age of 22. So you could just do your resume the way you would if you’d graduated at 22 and not worry about the earlier stuff.

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I graduated from college at 17 and then took a few years off to finish growing up” — which is something most people will understand.

7. Gift for a recommender who’s also my manager

I 100% agree with and follow the advice of avoiding gifting upwards in the office — with the exception of very small/cute things when I get back from vacation (think <$3) that I usually give to each of my close coworkers.

However, my boss just finished the second of three recommendations for business school. She really went above and beyond in the recommendation process too — working with me to find out what strengths I valued. It seems to be common advice on B-School forums to give recommenders extravagant gifts (like $100 gift cards, or bottles of wine, or at minimum a really nice box of chocolates or edible arrangement.) After reading your blog for so long (and admittedly partially because I’m broke), I feel like it would be sort of awkward/odd to get her something like this. I think I could bring in something small and nice for my former manager who also wrote a recommendation, but giving something substantial to my current manager feels really odd.

Should I get her anything beyond a thank-you card? If so, do you or the readers have any ideas? It just feels really really odd to bring in a box of chocolates or wine. Also, the last recommendation isn’t due for 3 more months — if I give her something now it starts to feel like I’m bribing her… but if I wait for 3 months, it feels like I’m not showing appreciation soon enough for what she’s done! Any advice?

Personally, there’s no situation where I’d expect or be comfortable with an extravagant gift from an employee who reported to me (particularly a gift card, which is too much like giving cash). That’s crazy that people are recommending that.

I always think the absolute nicest, most meaningful gift you can give a manager is a sincere and detailed letter — I’m talking a full page — about why you appreciated working for them. Management is often a thankless job and it can feel like people don’t notice the myriad ways a good manager tries to help them — so it feels pretty awesome when someone writes a letter like that. Way better than even a pricey bottle of wine or other gift would feel.

{ 58 comments… read them below }

  1. CAA

    For #6 — if you list your degree without the graduation date under education, then the natural assumption will be that you graduated just prior to the start of your full-time experience. There’s no need to correct that unless someone actually says it aloud.

    When you fill out an application the graduation year will be required, but it’s entirely possible that in interviewer will skim over the dates and not even realize there’s a gap between graduation and your first job. If someone does figure that out and ask about it, Alison’s response is fine.

  2. anon

    My workplace requires personality tests only for director level positions. On paper it’s so that they can find people who mesh well with the current group–in fact it’s because they hired some super wackadoo people in the past, and instead of training hiring managers in how to better interview people, they decided to go for personality tests. Honestly, doing this seems to be part of the larger managerial dysfunction at my workplace, and personally in the future I think I’ll assume that required personality tests imply some level of dysfunction at an organization.

    1. PEBCAK

      I was going to say the same thing. Putting too much weight on this one thing is a sign, IME, that they will also have a hard time evaluating existing employees, setting appropriate goals, etc. It’s like an attempt to automate management, which just can’t be done.

      1. Sourire

        My job has such a test, but it was only fairly recently implemented. A lot of people joke that had the test been given years ago, most of our staff would never have been hired. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of truth in that joke – and quite a bit of dysfunction in my workplace.

  3. Anonymous

    #1. I don’t know your race or gender, however, in my experience and observation, the White male is the only one free, with impunity, to express wanting or deserving more money, whether he already makes millions….billions even. He is there to earn as much money as possible, while the rest of us are there to work as much as possible in support of their ambitions. He faces no retribution in that regard. Everybody else, not so. You will raise eyebrows and some will take umbrage.

    I’m not suggesting the White male does not work, however, the goal is unequivocally and appropriately about money and power, whereas, for everyone else the goal is about employment, with money an afterthought. I cannot tell you how often in my office White males express in one way or another how the rest of us are overcome with the warm fuzzies to help and support them achieve their goals. They do not put it in terms or gender or race, but the implications are clear, as I’ve yet to hear one White male say likewise to another. Perhaps it has happened, but I’ve never seen it.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        (noise of exasperation)

        WWWONKA, I understand that this is a response to the comments you drew a few days ago where several commenters (and I) pointed out that your comments here of late have been extremely bitter sounding. They have been, I and others hoped you would take the feedback in the spirit in which it was intended, it appears that you have not, and so I’m going to formally ask that you be more restrained and thoughtful about what you post here, because this is not an appropriate forum for you to reflexively and regularly spew negativity on everyone else. It’s no more appropriate to do it here than it would be to come into my home and do it there.

        Thank you.

        1. WWWONKA

          Sorry, I can not spew out the cookies and cream that the rest of the cult do. I do not see eye to eye with every bit of fluff AAM says and I have plenty of experience seeing what happens behind the scenes to form my opinions. If everything was all roses in the world then people would not be writing about there negative experiences to a HR person. Let’s see how long this stays up.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            People disagree with me here all the time. This isn’t about needing to agree with me, and no one has said that it is. And implying that I would remove this comment is pretty odd when I generally reserve that for rare cases, like hate speech.

            I am, however, going to ask you to take a break from commenting for a while, because it’s becoming disruptive. Thank you.

      2. AB

        WWWONKA,

        I’m only writing and going off topic here because I’ve noticed comments from you in the past that actually made me think and look at some issues from a different angle. That tells me you are a smart person, but I can’t help but agree with AAM and other commenters that you’ve been displaying a level of bitterness that can only negatively affect your job search (assuming you are still looking for a job, as opposed to happily employed).

        Yes, there are plenty of cases where we see employees and candidates being badly treated by organizations, but I’ve noticed some sweeping generalizations in your recent comments that can only hurt your goals. For example, I have various colleagues who do apply to jobs just for their “cool factor”. I can see it becoming pretty clear to interviewers that’s the reason they are applying, based on how they behave in the interview, and the fact that in most cases they are currently earning more than the position pay. None of them are “desperate for a job”. We all have specialized, sought out IT, management, or engineering skills that makes it easy for us to get new jobs without even having to move to another city. We are lucky enough that we can even say, “screw this, I don’t like the new manager, and I’ll demand to be transferred to another department, or I’ll leave”.

        I hope my comment will help convince you that your experience doesn’t reflect the experience of all (or even the majority) of people applying to jobs or reading this blog. Perhaps you’ll be able to rethink your mindset so you can go back to a more balanced perspective of the job market, which can only help your goals.

        1. Nodumbunny

          Well and I almost said something to WWWonka the other day because, as others have said, if the (very understandable) frustration and bitterness is coming through IRL, it *is* hurting chances of getting a job – it just is.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Sometimes I have to say to myself, “and this train of thought helps me HOW?” There are just some thoughts that are dead ends, these thoughts lead to nowhere.

          It is still very difficult out there in the work world, even though some things seem less tight. I think that is part of why Alison’s blog is so popular. It gives people a place to go that is proactive. Yet, Alison is a realist. How often have we read her saying “Your job sucks, I am sorry.”?

          This blog is news we can use. Reality based advice with actual forward moving steps.

          I don’t see too many Pollyannas here. What I see most of the time is people jumping in to help someone they do not even know- with a problem at work. People are helping each other through difficult spots so that they do not have go without dinner a few nights or more per week because of being unemployed.

          (A friend of mine quit college. Her mother was very upset with her. VERY UPSET. I said to look at the why. The reason why is because she pictured her daughter counting on friends to have a living room sofa.)

          Empathy only goes so far, it does not put food on our tables nor does it keep a roof over our heads. Food and housing takes a bit more to sustain than an empathetic ear.

    1. EngineerGirl

      To be fair though, there is some true to WWWONKAs post. There are some indications that it is more socially acceptable for women to say that they want more money “for my family” then “because I’m worth it”. I’m not sure about the race card though.

      Their study, which was coauthored by Carnegie Mellon researcher Lei Lai, found that men and women get very different responses when they initiate negotiations. Although it may well be true that women often hurt themselves by not trying to negotiate, this study found that women’s reluctance was based on an entirely reasonable and accurate view of how they were likely to be treated if they did. Both men and women were more likely to subtly penalize women who asked for more — the perception was that women who asked for more were “less nice”.

      “What we found across all the studies is men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not,” Bowles said. “They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not.”

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/29/AR2007072900827.html

      1. fposte

        That wasn’t WWWonka’s post, though, that was the point of the Anonymous to which WWW responded.

      2. PEBCAK

        Yup. Thanks for this. I negotiated pretty well at one position, and later, on a trip with superiors, after several drinks, they told me what a bitch I had been.

        The negotiation had gone something like this:

        Hiring Manager: How much are you looking for?
        Me: Well, as I mentioned, I’m pretty happy in my current position, so I’m excited about your company, but I’d really need at least XXXXX to make the jump.
        HM: I can’t offer you that much without getting approval from my manager.
        Me: Alright, let’s talk again after you’ve touched base with him.
        HM: Uhhhh….okay.

        I asked what had been “bitchy” about my negotiation tactic (and asked as though I wanted sincere feedback, mentioning that I negotiate with suppliers and if I was coming off incorrectly, I’d like to know). Of course, nobody could give me a response to that, though they agreed that the conversation was pretty much how I remembered it. All I got was that the hiring manager told me I’d put him in an awkward position where he’d had to go back to his boss and ask for more money.

        1. EngineerGirl

          And there’s the lie. He didn’t **have** to go to his manager. He did it because he clearly wanted you enough to overcome that reluctance. He clearly thought that you would be worth that amount of money.

          I had a similar situation when I was evaluating a product. It was in incredibly bad shape – it simply didn’t work. I said just that – “this totally doesn’t work”. I was dinged because I didn’t say it nice enough. I was told I had to beat around the bush a bit before saying how bad it was. I mean really? In an engineering environment? I didn’t call it what I really thought of it (a horrid mess). I just stuck to the facts.

          I think there is some sort of social penalty women pay when they make men uncomfortable. I’d like to explore that more in the work world.

          1. Ruffingit

            I agree with you, there’s absolutely a social penalty women pay in the working world. Men are aggressive go-getters and women are bitches. Men are straight shooters and women are unfeeling bitches. This isn’t true everywhere of course, but the general expectation of women is that they’ll be nice and caring and comforting and sweet and…yeah. Anything that doesn’t fall into those categories gets you looked at like something is wrong with you sometimes.

            1. Anonymous

              Minorities too are expected to enjoy playing a supportive role in and bask in the reflected glory of Whites in general, and White men in particular, as they pursue ever more money and power on the job.

              Perhaps this trend goes beyond the workplace as that dynamic plays itself out too in popular culture: movies, TV shows, literature, etc. It’s inescapable. Just look at who typically plays the hero in any movie, and who the sidekick? Women and minorities are (sub)consciously expected to play the sidekick in the workplace….and to enjoy it to boot.

    2. The IT Manager

      Anonymous … I think your blanket statement goes a bit too far into some sort of persecution complex to sound rational. “All white males” and no one else no matter how much money they make is so broad that its unreasonable.

      Especially in the context of the LW’s question where the LW did not say this. Her current boss speculated that this was the reason she was changing jobs, but clearly everyone knows that its unlikely the the boss was going to say things like “I am a bad boss,” “her co-workers are crazy and make her life miserable,” “there’s no room for advancement,” “we have no money for training,” etc. And knowing that many people keep their real reasons for leaving a job to themselves, the boss was guessing , the answer he gave showed that the LW was not being fired or laid off or quit to avoid being fired.

  4. Jennifer

    #3 Definitely depends on your industry. My brother was interviewing in August 2013 for a job that will begin after his graduation in May 2014 (financial industry). I started applying to jobs in January when my graduation was in May and actually started at my job a week before classes ended – I didn’t have any finals or anything (graduate school, public library)

    1. CoffeeLover

      Accounting firms, banking jobs and management consulting interview in August/September for new graduates. Other jobs typically interview January-March. That’s for a May graduation date though so I’m not sure about a June graduation (I imagine it would be the same, but you would negotiate for a later start).

  5. MissDisplaced

    #7 I suppose if you really wanted to include a gift, keep it simple and small and inexpensive. Maybe just something that would brighten her day. Perhaps a small flower arrangement (you could do this yourself) or just little something you know she or he would like (could be as simple as a favorite coffee or tea, or treats for their dog/cat/horse, a book/journal, etc.). A thank you gift is certainly not expected, so I guess it just depends on how well you know them and your workplace.

    If any of this still feels weird, then just opt for the thank you card or letter.

    1. Green

      When I left my most recent job, I gave my mentor and boss a small gift. I hope it would be of more sentimental value than of anything else (she makes millions per year, so…). I went with a small piece of memorabilia from the company that was the client we worked together on nearly full-time. Essentially a small pin that said “Team Company X” that I found on Ebay for <$5 in a gift box that was ~$5. I also included a note about how much I had enjoyed being part of her team.

      It's not common to give gifts in our industry to managers, but she had been a particularly strong mentor and had given me opportunities to gain the experience that led to me being hired as the youngest person in my new role. I debated it for a while, but I eventually just went with my gut – a small token of appreciation freely given, with no expectation of reciprocation in any way.

      1. sunny-dee

        I had a project manager I had worked with for years move to a different division of the company. I sent him a six-pack of bottle Dr Pepper with the real cane sugar (I live in Texas, he in California), with two cheap champagne glasses from the Dollar Store. I kept out one of the Dr Peppers for me — so we could “toast” his promotion. The shipping was more than the gift, but I think the gesture is nice. If I were leaving and someone did something similar, I would be flattered, not offended.

    2. Anonymous

      I agree. I have given the people who write recommendation letters small things like an office plant or a box of chocolates and they are always very touched. I feel that writing these letters is above their regular duties, so it is appropriate as long as it is something small.

  6. Sharon

    #3: If I could go back in time, I would tell my about-to-graduate self to start applying for jobs at least 6 months before graduation, because I may have been able to spare myself YEARS of job search frustration if I had started earlier.

    1. Rachel

      See, I did start applying for jobs nearly six months before graduation, and then I had people who didn’t read my resume and see the “pending Spring 20XX” at the top. I would get to the phone screen, and of course it would come up that I’m still finishing my degree, and that was that on those positions.

      OP #3, the smaller the organization the sooner they want you to start, in most cases. If you’re looking at the kind of organization that doesn’t have more than one or two people in a given role, then wait until two or three months before graduation. That should time you pretty well that you could ask them to hold a position for you until after graduation. Earlier than that, I think you’ll find that a lot of small organizations need someone who is available to start within a shorter time period, even if you’re their favorite candidate, because the position can’t sit empty for months.

      In comparison, my brother is graduating in May from a great undergrad business program, and got two offers from management consulting firms last week. He won’t even start the job, whichever he takes, until August. I work in non-profit, the largest org I’ve ever worked for was >200 staff, and I’ve never gone more than two weeks between accepting an offer and my start day.

  7. EngineerGirl

    #1 – it’s possible that your manager tried to get you more money in the past, and upper level boss wouldn’t release it. Manager is now going back and saying “see, I told you this would happen”. In any case, it is rare that a manager will give all the reasons to upper management. Pick your battles and all that.

    The important thing is that you have a great recommendation.

    1. EngineerGirl

      Oops. I misread it. Increase in income is fairly normal reason for leaving. But did you really expect your old boss to air dirty laundry to your new boss? Any other reason would basically be admitting that his company messed up somehow.

      1. CAA

        I think this is totally a non-issue. If I ask during a reference check why someone left a previous job, the answer is usually “she got offered more money”. (Occasionally it’s a variation of “new challenges”, but usually they say money.) Even if the real reason was something else, a lot of times people don’t want to burn bridges when they resign, so they end up saying things like “great opportunity, more money” anyway, and after a while, “more money” is what people remember and that’s what they say if asked.

        And, leaving a job to earn more somewhere else is not exactly a shameful thing to do as long as you’ve put in enough time for the employer to recoup your training costs and you’ve given proper notice. Most of us are working for money after all. Even if we love what we do, we still expect to get paid for it, and (at least in the U.S. culture) it’s o.k. to move on if you find someone who values you more than your current employer.

  8. Ann Furthermore

    I had to do a personality test for my first job out of college years ago. It took about 2 hours and was a whole barrage of random questions. One was, “Have you ever let yourself overhear a private conversation?” I answered yes because who hasn’t and I figured it was a question to test how honest you were. The only other one that sticks out all these years later is, “Do you sleep with more than one pillow at night?” I never did figure out the significance of that one. Another part was fill-in-the-blank type stuff. One guy hired at the same time as me said that for the question, “I wish…….” he finished it with “… that Elvis was still alive.” So I did wonder how closely the answers were reviewed.

    The other odd thing was that on the job application there was a space to write a paragraph for something like other information about yourself, or why you wanted the job or something. It specified that it had to be done in your own handwriting, so I always wondered if they did some sort of graphology analysis or something.

    The job was a staff accountant position at an oil & gas company. Lots of hoops to jump through just to count barrels of crude oil on the pipelines!

    1. fposte

      Given that various orthopedic things cause me to wield pillows like Picasso wielded oils, I’m deeply amused by the pillow question.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I had to take an honesty test in the early 80s. It asked such questions as “is taking a pencil from work stealing?”

      I had to reread the instructions for the test. You were supposed to take the question at face value (whatever that means) and not over think it (yeah, okay).

      I had no idea what kind of an answer they were looking for. It’s ONE stupid pencil. But, the pencil was “taken from work”. umm. Sounds deliberate.
      So I put yes.
      I guess that was wrong. I lost the job that I had been working at for weeks. (I was told before I took the test that I would NOT be fired. There was NO chance of that happening. hmmm.)

      Much later, I learned that the company was ordered by the courts to stop using this test.
      The control group was a group of white males. The courts found that there was build in bias against other groups of people- females and nonwhite people. (Yes, you read that right, everyone’s answers were compared to the answers of a group of white males. The employee had to have the same answers as what the group of white males had written.)

      So now I see we have shifted from honesty tests to integrity tests.
      I took one for a company that informed me that they were not permitted to give me my test results. I said to the HR person, “Well this is awkward for me, because how do I know if I should check back with you on my app or if I should apply for any other openings here at all if you cannot tell me my test results?” I went on to explain that if I failed, for me to keep up interest in this company would be a waste of her time and my time.
      She had no answer to give me. Not knowing what to do, I just moved on.

      I ended up working for another store in that same chain. By luck they had not started using the integrity test. Once they started, they were using the wrong answer key. Every.single.person. who took the test failed. After dozens failed they decided that there might be a problem.

      For OP 2- when you do these tests try to have the presence of mind to find out the company that produces the test. And what the exact name or version is that you are taking. (Maybe on the back in tiny print?)
      When you get home, hit Google and look around.

    3. anon-2

      Fortunately, the pop psychologists who put together those personality tests have been discredited, and classified as charlatan efforts.

      My favorite pop psycho thing – “If they take you out to lunch, and put salt on your food before tasting it, you won’t get hired.”

      That’s about as credible as “if you go swimming after eating a peanut butter sandwich, you’ll get a cramp and drown.”

      If a company pulls krapp like that, run, run, run, and keep running. You can only imagine how a company like that is managed.

    4. Anonymous

      “Do you sleep with more than one pillow at night?” – I sleep *with* two pillows, but I don’t sleep *on* two pillows! I usually don’t use a pillow at all, but my neck hurts sometimes, and then I might use one pillow or the other, depending which is more comfortable for that night’s ache… I would so fail this test because I wouldn’t be able to make up my mind.

      My ex-company decided about a year ago that all candidates have to pass a test (CCAT) before they are even considered for interviews. No one could know the actual results – not the hiring managers, not the candidates, no one except HR (the hiring managers were only told if the person passed or failed). Oh, and it was the *only* test that could be administered. Hiring managers couldn’t even ask technical questions during the interview. It was oh so fun trying to hire writers (that had to write in a foreign language) without being able to test them!

  9. Elizabeth West

    2–personality tests
    I think these are a big waste of time. And I hate the ones that are so obviously skewed toward whether you would steal or not. That makes me feel like they’re assuming I will before they even know I exist.

    6–early graduation
    That’s quite an impressive accomplishment!

    1. anonymous

      I was applying at some random mall store and their personality test took me about an hour to finish – all the questions were “do you steal from work?” reworded a million different ways.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I took one like that when I applied at a company that sold shampoo back in 2005. The test turned me off so much I decided that if they called me, I was going to lie and tell them I’d accepted another offer.

  10. EM

    #2 — I applied for a job as an editor with an organization and after the formal interview with the HR director and the woman who would be the position’s manager, the HR director casually informed me that they require applicants to complete a personality test. No mention of this had been made prior, even to let me know to plan for the time necessary for this test.

    It was a huge battery of questions and ended up taking roughly 2 hours.

    I didn’t get the job and I have no idea if the results of the personality test made any difference, but in retrospect, I think I should have walked out. It was ridiculous and I don’t think I would complete one in future. I’m with anon above who tends to view them as signaling some kind of ineptness in the organization.

  11. Nutella Nutterson

    #7 – I’m not really seeing an above-and-beyond recommendation process from your description. Unless you were really unaware of what you wanted emphasized in the letter, finding out from you what strengths should be mentioned is reasonable, not extraordinary.

  12. Chocolate Teapot

    1). It could be that the old and new bosses know each other and it’s a joke.

    3). In my day (when the world was all in Black and White!) Graduate Recruitment schemes often had deadlines way before graduation dates, so you had to apply quite early on. I think the other thing to do would be to emphasise when you are available.

  13. Claire

    Re #2: My company does personality tests in teams after people have been hired (DiSC). We mainly use it as a team building excercise where we discuss the best ways to work with different personalities. I always find it interesting and useful but in this case, there really is no right or wrong personality.

    1. Elizabeth West

      We do DISC too, but they tell us it’s to improve communication. The company doesn’t tout it as any way to classify people, just to be aware that there are different communication styles and suggest various ways of adapting to them.

  14. hamster

    #2 What worries me is your statement
    “This one had some number patterns where I was asked to find the next number in the sequence, and I’m sure I did terrible on that portion,”
    This sounds more like an analytic thinking/IQ/logical kind of test and in those tests, while they may be more than 1 valid answers, there are definitely a lot of wrong ones.
    I had worked *briefly* with an organization that recruited from finance world, but expected it’s employees to bridge to statistics /database logic a bit. Obviously, most of them out of college could not have this, so they were tested with brainteasers as this one
    http://sbjoshi.wordpress.com/2008/06/04/puzzle-burning-ropes/. They had a skill test and online logic test , and during the interviews ( 2 of them) they gave you progressively more difficult teasers. They were interested not only in your correct answer but also in you reasoning line, and approach, and how well you could articulate your thoughts. They rejected people over those silly ( to me ) brainteasers.
    So take into account they may have a stupid rule where they hire/interview only if you pass a certain score in the logic part of a “personality” test.

  15. Anonymous

    #7 don’t do a big gift. That would be very weird, especially in this case. (I think it is a little weird in general and I’ve written more than one recommendation for someone entering a business program and never gotten a gift and would have been highly uncomfortable receiving one.)
    A nice note and a note to yourself to “pay it forward” as the phrase goes would be entirely appropriate and sufficient.

    1. OP #7

      Thank you! This is good to hear from someone who has written recommendations.

      I was just thrown really off when I saw literally a dozen posts on b-school forums about people giving their manager’s large gifts. I felt awkward reading about it!

      I already feel like I get to pay it forward a bit as a student I’m mentoring in high school asked me to write a recommendation :)

  16. Anonymous

    I find personality tests to be pretty silly. I completely lied on the only one I’ve had to take and still got the job so either A) they are easy to trick or B) the interviewers don’t put much stock in them anyway. I’m inclined to think it’s the option A, especially if you have done some research into personality types and know the general type that a particular job probably wants you to have. It’s fairly easy to answer the questions in such a way that you can come up ENTJ or ENFP whatever they are looking for.

    On another note, I think these aren’t a good tool because it seems like most of them are there to punish introverts for being introverts when introverts are still perfectly capable of operating in most environments even if they don’t rank high on the “outgoing” and “sociable” meter. Extroverts don’t have the market cornered on being cooperative, polite, and amiable.

  17. Jake

    I just took a DISC personality assessment for a company.

    If you don’t have a high C score, you’re out for this position.

    If you have a high I score, you’re out for this position.

    I was lucky enough to have a high D and C score with an I as low as it can go. I ended up turning the job down for a completely unrelated reason, but there really are companies out there that take personality tests that seriously.

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