can I decline a personality test, coworkers are trying to reassign my work, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can I decline to take a personality test during a hiring process?

I’m about to head into a third interview, and I was just asked to take a personality test and cognitive aptitude test. I am incredibly uncomfortable with a personality test and said as much – but am willing to take the cognitive aptitude test. I don’t feel personality tests are useful or conclusive in any way. Am I blowing the interview? Is it wrong that I’m not willing to play the game?

I’m no fan of personality tests either, but organizations who use them are likely to require it if you want to continue in their process. The exceptions to this are if you’ve come into their process through a personal connection, one who has enough standing there to say “she can skip it” or if the hiring manager likes you enough at this point to exempt you. Absent either of those factors, they’re likely to take “won’t play the game” as “self-selecting out.”

2. My coworkers are trying to reassign my work to the receptionist

I work in a small department with four people, two of whom are new to the organization. One employee (coworker #1) was hired to do a certain job, and we also hired a receptionist to round out our department two months ago.

Coworker #1 doesn’t like some aspects of her job responsibilities, and she has gotten close to the CEO, who has advocated for a title change for her and coworker is trying to pass off the “undesirable” responsibilities to the receptionist. Two coworkers from other departments who we work closely with on various projects “feel bad” that the receptionist “doesn’t have enough to do” and are prepared to assign her a bunch of different responsibilities, including trying to reduce some of mine to give to her! Our manager is on vacation all week, so they plan on surprising him with the job responsibility changes upon his return.

I’m frustrated that my coworkers assume that they can make these changes on a whim without discussing it with the affected department members first (especially the manager), and I told them that I was uncomfortable with putting their ideas in motion before my manager returns. I think that they think that because they either report to or work closely with the CEO, they can wave a wand and make changes to fit their tastes. I don’t mind if the receptionist has additional responsibilities, but I do not want my work to be encroached on and I think it’s inappropriate for coworkers to be creating and changing responsibilities for each other. I feel like my manager definitely needs to know about this–what should I do?

Just be direct! It’s totally reasonable to say, “I want to wait to talk to (manager) when he returns next week, so please don’t move forward on this until I do.” If you’re comfortable with it, you could be even clearer: “I’d actually like to hang on to Task X because (I like it/it’s a significant part of my job/it intersects with other things I do/I’m better positioned to handle it because of Y/whatever). If you feel strongly about it, we can certainly talk with (manager) when he returns next week, but it would need to wait until then.”

3. How to assess a candidate who might have very different values from our organization

I’m a recruiter for a health-related nonprofit. One application we got recently raised some eyebrows because the applicant’s current position is with a notoriously conservative organization, and our organizational culture is definitely on the liberal side of things. Plus, we provide services (family planning, post-abortion care, heavily promoting condom usage for HIV prevention, etc) that his current organization actively campaigns against. They’re also in the “homosexuality is a sin” camp and the hiring manager is gay. Obviously, not every employee has to privately espouse the values of their organization (the current one, or ours) but we also want to make our atmosphere clear, and determine his nebulous “fit” with the rest of the team. How can we do that without implying “we’re worried you’re a bigot”?

When you do advocacy or many other types of nonprofit work, it’s entirely reasonable to require that candidates have a commitment to the objectives of your organization. You can be pretty direct about this: “Your current organization pretty actively campaigns against much of the work we do. Tell me more about your interest in moving from them over to us.”

To get at basic comfort with / skill at working with people who might be different from himself, you can ask things like “Tell me about a time that you had to work with a group of people from different backgrounds and move them to action. How did you approach it, and to what extent did that shape your approach?” Or even more directly, “Tell me about a time you had to navigate issues of identity and diversity — how did you approach it?” or “One of our core values is around diversity and inclusion, which for us means ___. Tell me about how that value has played out in your work.” (I stole all three of these from The Management Center.)

For what it’s worth, you might end up being surprised! When I was working to end marijuana prohibition, among our job candidates were two former DEA agents, a Republican judge (we hired him and he was great), and a bunch of others whose exposure to the other side of the issue had been what made them support our work. Or he might just be someone who doesn’t realize what type of work you do, or who hasn’t thought particularly deeply on your issues. But you should get a pretty good idea with the sorts of questions above.

4. Should I apply for a job I don’t want in order to get my foot in the door?

I am very interested in applying to work for a specific, small nonprofit organization. I truly believe in their mission and the work they do. However, they have no open positions for the job I would be suitable for. Can I apply to a different position I am not interested in just to get my foot in the door? Should I email them my resume and cover letter for the job for which they are not currently hiring? How can I get myself on this organization’s radar?

Don’t apply for a position you’re not interested in. You’ll be wasting their time, and small organizations really don’t have the luxury of that. Plus,  if you get the job, you’d be potentially sidetracking your own career for a different job that might never happen. Instead, your best bet is to find ways to make connections with people there (volunteering is one way, but it doesn’t have to be that), let them know you’d love to work for them some day and what you do, and make sure you stay in touch. If feasible, go to their events and get involved in other ways. In other words, get on their radar and keep yourself there so that you’re around if they ever do have an opening that’s right for you.

Plus, once you get to know their context better, you might see a way to pitch the type of work you’d like to do — but that will be a lot more effective once you know more about them.

5. A friend referred me for a job but then I was automatically rejected

A friend of mine referred me to a job and forwarded my resume to the actual hiring manager. He told me to apply for the position online as well. Unfortunately, I received an automated email from their HR department stating they were deciding to pursue other candidates. My question is: Was I really not considered by the actual HR manager or was this a result of their hiring software? Have there been situations where an HR manager may have reviewed a resume personally and decided to move forward with an applicant while a “hiring software” may have done the opposite (i.e. rejected an applicant)?

It could be either. If the hiring manager reviewed your materials and decided to reject you, it’s likely she’d have the normal rejection sent and you wouldn’t be able to tell that was the case. On the other hand, it’s also possible that you were rejected by HR or filtered out by screening software if you didn’t meet specific qualifications. Competent employers don’t set up their software in a way that would result in candidates they’d want to interview being automatically screened out, but it happens.

All you can really do here is mention to the friend who referred you that you received what looks like an automatic rejection, and let the friend decide if it’s worth him following up with the hiring manager. (Whether he will or should depends on how well positioned he is to assess your candidacy.)

{ 398 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    My concern in #3 would be hiring someone who will be making tapes and editing them to ‘expose’ the organization; I’d probably screen this person out unless there is very clear evidence they are not heavily committed to the goals of their current organization. There is a lively industry in this sort of thing — look at Planned Parenthood.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, I didn’t get so far as the tapes, but my mind did jump to the CIA manual posted in the last month or so on how to sabotage an organization from within, which would certainly be an interesting strategy.

        Did the applicant have a cover letter, and did s/he address this issue, either directly or indirectly? If not, that seems at least pink or yellow flag that maybe this applicant didn’t do their research on exactly who they were applying to.

        It is possible this person has had a change of heart (or is leaving the faith, if the other org is religious based), or that they didn’t realize their position one way or the other until they were in the middle of it. For instance, a friend did a semester at an extremely religious college before realizing that it was so not for him and not what he stood for. Because it was only a semester he can leave it off his resume, but it always makes him nervous whenever he has to fill out an application that wants every single educational and work experience you’ve ever had, or if he has to submit transcripts.

        I also think it depends on what the job’s role is. While it would be difficult to “switch sides” for many people, if it is not a cause they care deeply about, it really doesn’t matter quite so much if the accountant, IT tech, janitor, etc isn’t committed to “the cause” 110%, as long as they aren’t actively working against it .

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Certainly possible, although typically they’d go undercover, rather than proclaiming their opposing affiliations right up front like that! I used to work for an organization that made regular use of undercover investigators (to get video footage from industries abusing animals), and they didn’t use the pieces of their work history that would make their beliefs obvious.

      1. Rhiannon*

        Your career history fascinates me. Animal abuse investigations, marijuana legalization…what haven’t you done?!

      2. Anna*

        That’s immediately what I thought. If the goal is to expose something, they would have probably submitted false information.

    2. SiobhanRecruits*

      Hi, I’m the letter writer for #3. That certainly never crossed my mind! I think we’re far too “small potatoes” for that kind of thing, so it’s not really a concern, but good to keep in mind in other situations.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I would not assume you are too “small potatoes” for this kind of thing. Videotape exposé, maybe not, but blog posts or web articles about “my week as a volunteer for the Other Side”? Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

        It’s true that most people looking to do this sort of thing hide their background. It’s also true that someone might get the idea that a redemption narrative about how they saw the light, pinky-swear, is the right way to get you to welcome them in.

      2. Green*

        I think a non-disclosure agreement would be sufficient to deal with that kind of a concern.

        FWIW, after working for big oil, I applied for environmental jobs and had (1) a sincere interest and ideological affinity, (2) relevant professional experiences that would have been really beneficial to the advocacy organizations I applied to, and (3) my take on my previous work and why I felt it was ethical and aligned with my values was nuanced and interesting. I conveyed some of that in a cover letter, but it came through best in a dialogue. I ultimately didn’t wind up finding a salary/location/job match in enviro advocacy, but I got several offers and I still donate to/support those organizations.

        1. Green*

          Oh, and another example. I did pro bono legal work for Planned Parenthood. I’m pretty conflicted on abortion from a bioethics standpoint and lean pro-life, but I am a huge fan of accurate sex education, free and accessible contraception, LGBT support, health care access, and defending legal rights from infringement. I had zero problem ethically representing that organization even though I don’t really align on one of the core things they’re associated with.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Environmental law is a little different though, isn’t it? An NDA and ethical obligations would likely be enough for a legal job – especially since you signaled your reasons for changing in a cover letter – but I really, really doubt a crusader is going to be deterred by an NDA. In the Planned Parenthood issue that’s all over the news, there are criminal charges that the people involved forged government IDs.

          1. Honeybee*

            Plus, the problem with an NDA is that you have to enforce it if the person breaks it. A small organization might not have the resources to go after even the small percentage of people who violate the NDA.

            1. Green*

              (1) Having one itself discourages people from violating it.
              (2) If someone did put up a blog, a cease & desist from the org or a pro bono lawyer usually does the trick. You can get letters from a lawyer for <$100.
              (3) If there are damages, you can enforce against the individual.

              And this is all in response to the very small likelihood that someone is going "undercover" openly, which happens even more rarely than people going "undercover" "undercover."

              I'd still want to vet the person thoroughly, but people aren't inherently the organization they worked for.

        3. Kimberlee, Esq*

          Yes! And it’s worth noting that there is a wide range of ideological difference in conservative organizations. Libertarians end up working everywhere; I’ve seen people go from working at Heritage Foundation to ALEC to Planned Parenthood to drug policy orgs. People might have a strong conservative view on Issue 1 and a strong liberal view on Issue 2, but end up needing to work places that have much more blanket views than they do themselves.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      It is possible the applicant’s views have changed (or he was just working there without a real commitment to it) and he really wants to get the hell out of his current organization. But I’d want to ask some very in-depth screening questions, for sure.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I think the real question is whether you even bother to interview this person. Sure, once they’re at an interview you can probe and try to figure out why they are “switching sides.” But do you even bother to bring them in for an interview?

        My inclination is no, frankly. Mission alignment is a big big thing in the nonprofit world, for all but a few technical types of roles (IT, accounting, etc.) Unless you do a good job of framing your work for the “other side” in a cover letter (e.g. you had a change of heart; you’re interested in understanding all sides of an issue; you wanted to get experience in XYZ and that was the best gig in town; etc.), I’m probably not going to bother.

        That is especially true given that one of the issues at hand is bigotry toward LGBTQ folks. Smart, moral, loving people can disagree about political issues. I take a hard stance on bigotry – you cannot be smart, moral, and loving while condemning other humans for who they are.

        1. Green*

          You’re doing a disservice to your organization by declining to interview someone who may be the best for the role because you suspect (without confirming or giving them an opportunity to explain) that they don’t support your mission. There are plenty of roles in which you’d be *better qualified* for a job by having worked on the other side of the issue. If they’re highly qualified and your one cause for concern is the organization they’re leaving, I’d bring them in for an interview.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The fact that he didn’t even address it in his cover letter says something not particularly flattering about his candidacy — he’s not thoughtful, not savvy, or not paying attention to where he’s applying.

            1. AMT*

              The two possibilities I’m leaning toward are that (a) he didn’t read the job description and doesn’t know much about the organization or its values, or (b) he does believe in the OP’s organization’s mission—but he somehow thought it would be best to downplay the conservative nature of his current organization rather than mentioning it on his cover letter. The first one is kind of a dealbreaker, but the second one could just be inexperience at job-searching or bad advice someone has given him.

              1. Velociraptor Attack*

                Even if he didn’t mention the previous organization in his cover letter, the cover letter for a nonprofit organization is going to sell why this particular organization is something you’re interested in. It doesn’t seem like he did that either. I don’t know that I would necessarily bring him in for an interview.

            2. Green*

              Wasn’t clear from question that there was no mention of it in the cover letter. Typically I’ve provided a short comment in the cover letter, but I also haven’t addressed “switching sides” in any great detail.

            3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Right. And frankly, it’s expected that, in a cover letter for a nonprofit job, you’ll talk about your commitment to the mission – even if you don’t have a gig with a conflicting mission on your resume.

          2. Anna*

            +1 I used to work with a guy who came from the tobacco industry. While where we worked together was not something like a health org, we actively worked to get our clients off tobacco and other drugs. He was great in his role.

            1. ReallyNotMe*

              Interestingly, I went from non-profit health to the tobacco industry. Just because someone works for an organization that your organization views as an “enemy” does not mean that the person is. I have found that, just like in any other organization, you have a great diversity of people with various personal beliefs.

              Last year I was interviewing for a position with a pharma company and got to the 3rd round of interviews. One of the execs I interviewed with was totally taken a back at the fact that I worked in “Big Tobacco” and because of that I was rejected even though the hiring manager felt I was their strongest candidate. In the end, I think it was for the best because I wouldn’t want to work with individuals that are so closed minded.

              1. Nighthawk*

                Personally, I don’t think I could work for a tobacco company, but I wouldn’t hold it against you if you did!

          3. themmases*

            That is not necessarily true, especially without someone explaining up front what happened.

            I work in public health– a field the OP’s organization is at least adjacent to– and there are plenty of interventions in my field (e.g. vaccines, family planning, drug use harm reduction, certain types of cancer screening) that are pretty clearly supported among experts but are controversial in the public eye for various reasons. Public health organizations translate scientific evidence into practice to try to achieve the maximum reduction in the burden of some bad health outcome for a population. Someone who worked for an organization opposing those isn’t just working for “the other side”, they’re doing something fundamentally different from what we do. That could be because they don’t believe the experts and are getting their own, or have some moral objection to a behavior like injection drug use and don’t want it to be supported regardless of the health consequences. But it’s certainly not a case of same work, different goal unless they worked in some type of operations role.

            Experts disagree all the time on whether and how to do things, but I think in any field there is a line beyond which dissenters are basically saying up is down, the earth is flat, and repudiating their own field’s training and values. A health organization’s mission of public service is much more important than any one person’s career, and really the only reason to accommodate someone who’s crossed that line without a good explanation is a serious lack of qualified alternatives.

            1. Green*

              I don’t think we should debate the original topic, but I would hope we can all agree that there are people on both sides who have thoughtful positions on issues that are supported scientifically. (For example, my personal conflicted feelings on abortion stem from bioethics and scientific information, not religion.) I agree with you that there’s some “line” potentially at which the person is spreading misinfomation, but I’d be careful about using your own biases to draw the line. There could be “good explanations” that you miss by ignoring candidates who are qualified.

              1. Honeybee*

                But the OP is not using their own biases; they are using clearly and explicitly stated positions held by the company the applicant worked for. If I’m hiring an outreach counselor for Planned Parenthood, I’m going to be understandably suspicious if someone who previously worked at Focus on the Family applies to the position. Moreover, I would expect that applicant to know that and thoughtfully address it in their cover letter.

              2. themmases*

                I’m not sure where you are getting that the line is based on my own biases– the examples I gave are widely agreed on by experts, which was the entire point of my comment. It’s not true that there are people on “both sides” of any given disagreement who both have evidence in support of their position; that was what I meant by there being a line. Whether both sides are thoughtful and legitimate really depends what each of those sides *is*.

                The point of my comment was not to slam anyone for their beliefs or debate the original topic (actually I didn’t even use abortion as an example, so I’m not sure where you are getting that either). When I say that some organizations implement scientific findings and others don’t, I say that as someone who conducts cancer outcomes research and works for a center that helps community organizations assess the public health impact of their programs. Understanding current scientific consensus and trying to translate it into a program or policy is part of working in public health. If someone works for an advocacy organization that promotes policies not supported by scientific consensus, then this major task could not possibly have been part of their work. They wouldn’t only be very likely to be a bad fit, they would probably be unqualified.

                For example, people in my field can and do disagree about whether it’s worthwhile to ban smoking in outdoor public spaces such as parks. No one in my field would agree that smoking isn’t harmful to your health, and if someone had worked for an organization that said that then the work by definition wasn’t public health, and couldn’t have involved many normal tasks in my field– or at least, couldn’t have involved doing them right. I wouldn’t be interested in ever hiring someone who had the latter opinion, or actively worked to promote it, unless the explanation was “I was wrong.”

                1. Green*

                  I wasn’t talking about OP; I was talking about themmasses. (You used “family planning”, which is broader than abortion but includes abortion and is often a euphemism for it.) At any rate, I agree with the general idea that sometimes people may be unqualified or a bad fit based on objectively incorrect beliefs they may hold.

          4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Sure, if he’s otherwise significantly more highly qualified than the other candidates. But, as Alison frequently says, when you’re hiring you’re working with imperfect information. At the point of a resume screen I have very few pieces of data with which to make decisions. Why would I ignore two useful pieces of data (1. Candidate worked in opposition to my organization’s mission and 2. Candidate didn’t follow basic norms and address that in his cover letter)?

            1. neverjaunty*

              Exactly. I’m a little baffled by the somewhat antagonistic replies acting like it’s some kind of unfair punishment to be skeptical of a candidate who worked for the opposition.

              1. ReallyNotMe*

                I can understand being skeptical, but if the person is a payroll coordinator I’m not really sure that is a conflict. As long as their job was not to work against the non-profits mission I just don’t see it. You don’t know what the candidates beliefs are.

                1. Honeybee*

                  Many small nonprofits are “all-hands on deck” types of environments in which people in all kinds of positions can get roped in to support other areas that aren’t directly tied to their job title. Plus, work environment is an important aspect – it’s not good for either the applicant or the company if they hire someone who potentially isn’t a good fit for the culture there.

                  No, they don’t know the candidate’s beliefs, but the candidate is making a statement (intentional or not) by having worked for the company they worked for. It’s up to the candidate to clear up any misunderstanding or assumptions people will understandably make about his beliefs aligning with his employer’s. Since he didn’t, that’s the only information that the hiring manager has to go on – and why proceed forward with someone with that yellow flag if you have other excellent candidates without one?

                2. ReallyNotMe*

                  I would argue that the candidate did tell you something else about them. They applied for the job, knowing that what the non-profit does. To me, that means that they don’t have a problem with the mission and are prepared to support it.

              2. Green*

                Skepticism is warranted; ruling them out isn’t (unless they completely don’t address it in the cover letter, which sounds like it was the case here, but which wasn’t clear from the beginning).

                1. Theguvnah*

                  In my (pro abortion rights) field, there are enough amazing and passionate people trying to break in that I would and do immediately dismiss applicants who clearly don’t convey that passion.

                  I sleep quite well at night.

        2. ReanaZ*

          I am a queer, poly, rapidly pro-choice, feminist atheist. I am about as bleeding heart liberal as they come. And I once worked for 6 months for a virulently anti-gay extremely conservative Christian organisation that ran children’s programming that was absolutely abhorrent.

          They made their employees sign a ‘statement of belief’ that they weren’t gay and didn’t support any legalisation of rights for gay people, in additional to other super conservative/evangelical interpretations of biblical belief. I did not (and could not) have signed this statement, as I was assigned to work as a consultant within this company by the consulting firm I actually worked for and was not a direct employee. For 4 months, I had said I did not want to work within this organisation and my firm said “Okay, you won’t have to” and as soon as they took over the sponsorship of my visa, they announced in a whole team meeting that I was going to be leading the project there and would work on-site for the next however many months as if it was a big honor.

          I couldn’t walk out immediately without losing my visa (and thus having to uproot my whole life, which would have been hard to do financially without a job and more notice too), so I fought against every fiber of my being and stayed. And by the time I could have sorted out another visa option, I was too deep in the project and it would have looked really, really bad on my professionally to up and jump ship in the middle and it’s a small industry so I finished their freaking project and put in my notice so I left literally the day after it went live.

          I fortunately can get away without listing them on my resume because I can list the firm that placed me there instead, but as I said it’s a small industry and people talk and I live in fear of the day someone refuses to interview me (when they think I’m otherwise a good candidate) because they think I’m a bigot because I did some work under distress for an organisation that is bigoted.

  2. Czar*

    In regards to #4, I agree that the best thing to do would be to follow up with the friend that referred you and see if he can follow up with the hiring manager. I do wonder if things would have panned out more favorably had the applicant not applied online and relied solely on the forwarded resume from his referral. Then again, it’s still possible that the hiring manager could move forward with the applicant despite the automated rejection email from the applicant tracking software. My conjecture is that human judgment is far more superior than any sophisticated algorithm designed to screen applicants.

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      I agree go reach out to the hiring manager!

      I had a referral get rejected because they made a wrong selection in our system and accidentally selected “no” for the are you over 16 question.

      It was an easy fix for me to get them back in the system (though HR did the actual technical fixing) and into the interview process.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think it would be funny if one of the “other candidates” they’re moving forward with is the OP#4!

      I think that if ever you can get a human being to put your resume in front of the hiring manager’s eyes, you’ve done the best that you can. And then you just have to wait.

      If you’re not strong enough to get an interview (which may be “not strong enough on your own, no matter who else is applying,” or may be “not strong enough compared with all these many other people who edge you out”), then you may not ever hear anything, except perhaps from your friend who says, “I think they’re done interviewing.”

      But I also don’t have a lot of faith in whether online systems really help much in terms of screening people in. So I wouldn’t give up hope, but really it’s just like all the other situations like this:

      You’ve done your best to apply or interview. The ball’s in their court. Don’t think too much about it now. You’ll make yourself crazy. There’s nothing you can do to prepare or to cope. They’ll call if they call.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      Yeah, we all know the software can be kooky. One time a friend of mine was pretty far along in an interview process with a huge Corp and suddenly got a rejection email. He asked either the Recruiter or the Hiring Mgr (I forget which one) and they looked into it and then told him it was rejecting him for another position he had applied to a year earlier…even though he had no recollection or record of applying to anything with them previously.

    4. JessB*

      Totally agree, I iust had this exact thing happen with a friend I’d referred to my own workplace! The filtering software we use rejected her application immediately, but my connection with the hiring manager meant she got an interview anyway.
      She impressed in the interview and after jumping through a few more hoops, she was offered the job!

      So OP, I’d definitely agree with letting your friend know, and then leaving the next steps up to them. They might feel comfortable enough to check in with the hiring manager and query it.

  3. Stephanie*

    #3: It could be that this person just needed a job. I did have a friend who was a liberal working for a conservative think tank (like the Heritage Foundation/American Enterprise Institute/FreedomWorks) as it was the first job she found post-college. She said there were a fair number of closet liberals at her job. I would look at what this person is doing at the current organization–I’d guess an entry-level job or something nonpartisan like an IT person might be less likely to be super committed to a cause antithetical to yours.

    1. PontoonPirate*

      One of my first internships ever was with AEI, even though I was (and still am) very far apart from their platforms politically. But I learned a LOT–my bosses and mentors were professional and engaging (they knew my politicals differed from theirs). Working for them didn’t change my mind on anything, but it forced me to clarify my positions and challenged me to think differently.

      Also, free breakfast and lunch is nothing to sneeze at when you’re a poor college kid.

      Now, that’s likely not the case for this applicant, but smart interviewing plus some critical observational skills should help you out here.

    2. BananaPants*

      That’s what I thought. I know people working for various partisan or sectarian organizations who do what they do at work because they needed a job, but really don’t espouse or agree with the tenets of their organizations on a personal level.

      The role might also matter – an IT person, admin, or other support staff is probably more free to “nod and smile” at the aims of the organization than a head spokesperson or director.

    3. SiobhanRecruits*

      Yes, of course, certainly possible. That’s part of what we’re trying to understand – motivation for that job and motivation for our job. FWIW, he wasn’t entry-level. Both positions involve substantive project management.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Did he address it in a cover letter? If not, that feels like such a weird miss on his part. He’s not entry level, so he has some exposure to the professional world. Why would he not say something about it?

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            So, so weird. Can I ask, why did you decide to interview him? I can’t imagine getting past that, myself.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Oh, and I should say that I have some experience with this myself.

              In a previous role, I worked for an organization working in education reform. (For those not in the education sector, “education reform” is a very specific thing – typically framed in opposition to teachers’ unions, in support of charter schools and/or private school vouchers, very focused on measuring and ratings teachers and schools, etc. It’s the conservative movement in education, essentially.)

              I am personally far to the left of the ed reform movement. I come from a union family. My mother is a teacher. I went to public schools. And so on. My organization worked in political advocacy, but very explicitly did not have a political agenda; we did not support or oppose any particular policy issues or legislation. I was comfortable with our mission and my work, and I believe that I/we did good in the world. I was not always comfortable with the company we kept (donors we courted, organizations we worked with, etc.)

              However. If I wanted to work in education but outside of ed reform? I’d have a lot of questions to answer, and with good reason. I could do great, great work for the state teachers’ union. They’d be lucky to have me. But if I applied for a gig there, without acknowledging and explaining the value of my previous work, they wouldn’t and shouldn’t hire me.

              That’s what I’m saying about this guy.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Yeah, pass. The only reason I can see fit skipping over such a screamingly obvious issue would be that it’s someone with a true hired gun personality – they have no conflicting feelings about “switching sides” because the only “side” they’re on is their own, and their moral allegiance is to a paycheck.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, not mentioning it in the cover letter is weird. He either doesn’t even realize what you do or is so unsavvy/unthoughtful that he doesn’t realize it’s something you’ll take note of and that he needs to explain his interest. If he’s incredibly qualified, I might do a phone interview to see what’s going on, but I’d be pretty skeptical unless he has a really compelling explanation on the phone call.

            1. SiobhanRecruits*

              The cover letter was quite general. His expereince otherwise (particularly in previous positions) are very strong, as are qualifications we need related to language, geographic expertise, etc. Thanks for your feedback!

              1. Observer*

                It sounds like he forgot to tailor the cover letter, which sounds like an odd mistake for someone with experience.

    4. Green*

      Yes. As part of my job, I also work with a number of very conservative organizations on a narrow topic aligned with my job role, but it would be a mistake to assume I had a strong commitment (or even an interest) in anything they did outside that particular topic.

    5. Chinook*

      Ditto on they may have taken any job available. In my history as a temp, I once worked for an extremely left leaning organization that actively demonstrates (and doesn’t denounce sabotage) against pipelines. I also had colleagues encouraging me to wear a white poppy and work on Remembrance Day (in Canada, both are signs of an anti-war movement that believes all soldiers are no better than terrorists). I politely stated I had plans that day and never mentioned they included watching my currently serving husband take part in the memorial parade or the number of family and friends I would be remembering. Obviously, they never bothered to check my background.

      This group had an innocent sounding name and I supported a lot of their initiatives (who could say potable drinking water for all and denouncing the overuse of disposable water bottles is bad) but , by the OP’s and other writers’ standards, I should be banned from the pipeline industry as a potential security threat or passive saboteur if I listed them as my employer instead of the temp agency. Ironic because, from how I saw them run from the inside, I saw them for danger and radicals that they are.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Nobody is saying that you should be banned from the industry. I’m saying that if you applied to work in the pipeline industry I’d expect you to explain the situation. Why were you at that first job? What was your experience there? Why do you now want to work here? etc.

        We could do that in an interview, but unless you at least give me a peek in the cover letter, I’d probably just move forward with candidates who didn’t raise those questions.

        1. Chinook*

          “But do you think a pipeline company should ignore the fact that you worked for this organization?”

          No but, if that is the only reason they could think to reject me, then I would hope they would at least do a phone screen to ask me why. My answer would be – As a temp, I was recovering from a month off due to kidney stones and the only part-time position the agency could find me (I didn’t have the strength for full-time right away. I would also mention that, while I agree with some of their causes, I have a huge issue with their support of “diverse tactics” and felt that some of their logic was faulty. As a result, I would never knowingly work for them again. I would also say, as I did in my interview, that I researched my (current) employer and heard amazing things about their environmental stewardship and integrity program from people who lived in a location where they recently worked and these people were more self-described “crunchy granola” types who would have high standards when it came to environmental issues (which is also why I accepted this job).

          1. neverjaunty*

            But you seem to be treating this as the company owing you a chance to explain yourself and have a crack at that job, and it being unfair and a “ban” if they don’t at least give you a phone screen. They don’t owe you that, any more than they owe somebody with little work experience a chance to explain why they’d nonetheless be great at the job. Yes, it sucks that you had to make a choice to support your family that would make it difficult to work for the companies this horrible employer opposed – but that isn’t the companies’ fault, and they don’t have a moral obligation to give everybody a second chance.

  4. MK*

    OP1, why exactly do you object to taking a personality test? I must say I find your attitude, especially the use of the phrase “not playing the game” odd. Here’s the thing: You think these tests are not useful. Your perspective employer thinks that they are. Your wanting to skip the test is basically asking that you get to determine how they will do their hiring when it comes to you; it’s not you bravely refusing to bow to unreasonable demands, it’s making the unreasonable demands of your own that you should choose the means they use to evaluate you.

    1. Random Lurker*

      Some personality tests are intrusive and humiliating. I had to take one for a very well known company. They flew me in to take it on site. I thought it was odd, as I was assuming it to be a computer test. I was shocked when I was driven to an office park that was not “on site”. The person who administered it was a psychologist and it was at her private practice. The questions I was asked were deeply personal, not appropriate, and I was not allowed to fully complete my thoughts before she inferred things. She created a profile on me that in no way represented who I am or how I fit into an organization. I have few regrets in life, but not saying “no” to this is one of them. It really shook my confidence.

      OP1 – if your gut is telling you this makes you uncomfortable, listen to it. If this is a culture that relies on such tests, you need to decide if you are OK working there or not.

      1. V.V.*

        Bizarre! By your account, this company sounds crazy. I am glad that in the end you don’t work for them hopefully you fell off their radar as quickly as you were on it and there is no lasting damage.

        1. Random Lurker*

          Thanks – I wanted to share this because it WAS damaging, so hopefully someone can learn from my experience. I came home and was shaken, because the results that were shared with me were crazy. They had me second guessing every aspect of my personality. I reviewed with my own therapist and it did take me about 4 months before I felt comfortable enough to even apply to a new job. The takeaway I learned was that the person who administered the test violated all sorts of set protocols, but I don’t let the company off the hook either. I dodged the biggest bullet of my career ever by not working there.

          1. Anna*

            I hope you filed a complaint with the psychologist’s licensing agency so that they could investigate whether she conducted her work in accordance with relevant ethics and privacy rules. Because there is so, so much about this that seems unethical to me (and I have a tangential understanding of mental health ethics and privacy rules from work in a related field). If I were the agency responsible for maintaining her license, I would want to know about this.

          2. OP#1*

            WOW. This is another reason why I wanted to refuse… I had this (possibly not) irrational fear that I’d have the personality of one of the text maker’s ex’s – and that it would label me insane. As I detailed later – it was online – and I was worried that the data wouldn’t be safe. That’s absolutely terrible. I got the call anyway, but I’m still not sure because of some of the other things I heard. I have a few other meetings at other places, thankfully.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Eh, I wouldn’t call them crazy. Plenty of places do it. This one sounds like it was poorly done, but I don’t think we need to condemn the whole company for it.

          1. Honeybee*

            Mm, I would think poorly of a company that used this person to do personality tests. If they’re using it for hiring they should be checking that the person is trustworthy and accurate and following proper protocols – and definitely not poisoning the well of their candidates.

      2. misspiggy*

        Yes, I’ve had a similar experience with psychological testing, and would be very wary of an organisation that used them in selection.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Wow, and I thought I had negative experiences, nope. I am good here.

        I had one place that used the wrong answer key. It was months and months before anyone figured out why no one could pass the test. Meanwhile, people needed jobs and the company needed help. It was a nightmare.

        I had another place promise me that the test would not mean I was fired if I failed. I failed, they fired me, just before my wedding day. This one experience rattled my cage. I found out the control group for the test was based on a group of all white males. I tossed a coin in my head, do I take legal action or do I go on with my life. I went on with my life. The company ended up in court over it and so did the testing company. It was messy.

        The last time I took a test the lady informed me that I could NOT know the results of my test. “But you can’t hire me if I fail. So how do I know if I should check back with you or not if you cannot tell me I failed? I don’t want to waste your time and I don’t want to seem like some type of stalker individual.” I said it with a half smile on my face. The lady understood that I was trying to make a point, and she said I had asked a good question and she did not know the answer. I never heard back from her. I assume I failed.

        I don’t blame OP for refusing to take the test. I think that these tests have a built in bias but I am not experienced enough in the arena to sort out what that bias would be. If I see that a job requires a personality test, a red flag goes up in my mind. There’s enough other jobs out there that do not require the test, so I tend to think moving on is a good solution.

        1. Artemesia*

          I think if a personality test is required and you want the job you should do the research that allows you to cheat. These things are intrusive, mostly bogus and damaging. Some of them are used to try to identify psychoses. Many of the questions are about physical symptoms and while they may have some validity across a population, if the person being tested actually has a physical condition of some sort, they may test as neurotic, paranoid, etc etc. And then there are the questions that are sort of negative but if you answer them in a positive way, you are labeled duplicious e.g. have you ever stolen anything? or have you ever lied? damned either way — sometimes it is about inventory shrinkage and sometimes is it about duplicity.

          1. Anxa*

            I’m really shooting myself in the foot, because I despite finding these tests to be unethical and horrible, I still feel so uncomfortable about cheating and lying.

            And the weird thing is, I have lied and cheated before. Probably a little bit every day. But I have a hard time lying on some of those questions. So maybe those tests are really good, because they are screening out the anxious, overly earnest, and the overthinkers. That said, I’ve had really REALLY horrible customer service by rude, surly, misanthropic like people who someone passed.

            But at one point I tried changing my personality to be more passable. I tried going to parties more and being more obnoxious (not because you have to obnoxious to pass, but my attempts at becoming more Taleo-friendly were just not working well). I figured I could avoid cheating and lying by becoming a more employable person.

            It didn’t last very long. I did cheat on a few: I filled in bubbles without looking. I did get some call backs right as I was starting another job.

            I think if I sat down with an interviewer who asked me the same questions, I’d be in a better position. I don’t think I could convince anyone that was an ideal big-box worker, but I think it’d be pretty obvious that I’m a pretty thoughtful and considerate person–which is a liability for many jobs but may help in others.

          2. M-C*

            I’m totally with Artemisia. The larger question to contemplate is that everyone knows these tests are totally bogus, and if the company still uses them it points to a dysfunction there, so OP#1 should take that in consideration in deciding whether she accepts the job if they offer it. The dysfunction may be only in the upper levels, or in HR, and you may still get decent direct coworkers out of it. But considering all that, it’s totally OK to prepare and be the most bold-faced liar possible. Part of this kind of test is “are you willing to mold yourself to our intrusive/irrational standards”? And if the question is yes, then lying is definitely part of the game from the recipient’s side.

            OP, if you can “innocently” find out what the test is ahead of the date, you’re home free. They may be proud to inform you of it :-). And then google it to death and be ready with trick answers to the trick questions. If you get no notice, you can still put yourself in the shoes of the droid required, and dutifully answer that you wouldn’t hesitate to turn in any co-worker for stealing candy, or whatever. With a layer of whatever the current management thinking is of desirable traits for the position you’re applying for (like do you have to fake being extroverted? no problem, you can figure out what that would entail). Courage, your real personality does not need to show at all, these things are not by any means difficult to figure out and you can come through with flying colors.

          3. aebhel*

            This. What personality tests overwhelmingly reveal is how skilled an applicant is at gaming a personality test. If a company is using them as a hiring tool, they should expect people to cheat.

            1. Lindsay J*

              This. I know customer service/retail positions (the only places I’ve taken standard personality tests for) are looking for super straight-laced, by-the-book, non-confrontational, outgoing people, so that’s what I am when I take the test.

      4. Green*

        I refuse to answer personality questions beyond “How would you/have you dealt with X-work-related-situation?”, work-related strengths/weaknesses, and the like. If someone asked me what kind of tree I would be or !!! asked me to sit down with a psychologist, I would be out of there in a heartbeat. So kudos for people who say no (or will from now on!).

        1. aebhel*

          Yeah, unless I’m applying for a job with the CIA, there’s no reason that I should be sitting down with a shrink as part of the application process.

      5. Just me*

        That’s crazy. The only personality tests I’ve taken were at a Scientology Church (don’t get me started on THAT…) and pointless ones that were like “Do you strongly agree that you are a reasonable person?”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know that I’d put it quite like that; a different way of looking at is that she’s not interested in participating in that, and she’s opting out. That’s her prerogative and not unreasonable, as long as she understands that it’s likely to result in them not considering her further. It’s not all that different than declining to participate in a group interview or something like this.

      1. MK*

        No, I understand that it’s perfectly reasonable to decline to participate (especially if it’s intrusive, I took it for granted that these are “fill a questionaire” type of things). I think it was the “not playing the game” that jarred with me; it gives me the impression that the OP thinks she should be able to decline and not have it make any difference.

        1. Kate M*

          I understand where you’re coming from actually – the phrase “not playing the game” stood out to me too. In my experience, people who use that phrase are the type of people who think that others are “out to get them” and that “the man” is keeping them down. (And it’s usually people who don’t actually have experience being discriminated against.) So that phrase usually has negative connotations to me too.

          However, it was probably just an odd word choice for the OP. I don’t blame her for not wanting to take a personality test – if a company that was hiring me wanted me to take one, that would be a major red flag for me about them. She just has to realize that not taking the test will probably take her out of the running, and so has to weigh those considerations.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, I always hear the phrase “not playing the game” as defensive and a little self-defeating-and-proud-of-it. If you don’t “play the game” and you get turned down for something you wanted, it’s easy to blame it on fact that you didn’t play the game (i.e. “the man” is keeping you down).

            My husband shoots himself in the foot all the time with this kind of thinking about his job. He has opportunities to advance if he would just make sufficiently nice with the people who matter, but he is soooo proud of his decision to not do that. He wants them to recognize his merits based only upon his performance, but it just doesn’t work that way; they have to see him as viably collegial before they will see past his attitude to his work.

            /end rant

            1. TootsNYC*

              His ability to “make nice” is actually a skill. It’s “a merit.”

              It’s too bad for him that he doesn’t see that.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I do wish he would see this. When I try to gently make suggestions, he then gets defensive with me!

            2. Minion*

              I’m sorry to tell you this, but I think we’re married to the same man. My husband is a very hard worker and does an excellent job but has personality conflicts almost everywhere he goes for that very same reason and he says those exact words! He refuses to “play the game”.
              If it turns out we are, in fact, married to the same man, please tell him to pick up dinner on his way home today. I don’t feel like cooking.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Tell him that you’re tired of making nice by engaging in performative gender roles and “playing the game”, so he’s responsible for dinner. ;)

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Oh, snap. The next time my husband says he’s not going to “play the game”, I’m going to say, “I’m not, either. Get your own dinner.” Ah ha ha! The anticipation for when I get to have this fine moment!

              2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Does he also fail to understand why people are “so sensitive about everything” when all he’s doing is “calling it as he sees it”? If so, then I’m totally convinced we’re married to the same man. And tell him to bring me home some wine.

            3. Dan*

              We struggle with that at my org. We’re a relatively flat org, where promotions exist but don’t have a ton of meaning. Promotions are also hard to get. We were having an internal discussion the other day, where a senior technical person said, “this is a political organization, and so are promotions. To get one, you need exposure at the division level and outside of the department.”

              Considering that we’re a bunch of teapot analysts, and we’re all a bunch of smart hard workers, the reality is that I don’t know what it means to be “promoted based on merit.” Pretty much all of my coworkers deserve it. So how do you pick? The “political” aspects are certainly better than what most people mean by that term — at least they’re not judging based on who plays golf with the CEO.

          2. Green*

            Although this is an example of “the man” keeping you down by setting up a ridiculous debasing process in order to get employment.

            1. Dan*

              The reality is, the company either gets the employees it wants or it doesn’t. If it’s happy with the process and the results, than “the man” only comes into play if there are disparate impacts.

              1. Honeybee*

                Just because The Man is happy with the results he is getting doesn’t make him not The Man.

                (I am being tongue-in-cheek, but only halfway.)

        2. OP#1*

          I’ll explain “not playing the game” – (I was traveling yesterday or I would’ve answered sooner!) I’ve been asked to do all kinds of things that I consider somewhat disrespectful in order to get a job. Work on spec (not just “how would you do this” but “write 3 stories for our show, for free, for us to consider you”), personality tests, continued interviews without a salary indication, 10+ interviews at considerable time and expense of your own. It feels very much that employers are in control – and you can choose to compromise or be out of work. It’s a very rough feeling. Of course I’d game the test if I took it, who wouldn’t? That’s “playing the game”. It’s inauthentic. Being authentic is explaining that I’m not comfortable with the test and I have many people that I can offer as references. (which is what I did) In this case, it worked.

      2. Artemesia*

        But it isn’t like declining to participate in a group interview. A group interview may be about how a person works in a group (relevant) or focus on work related situations (relevant) — a test that asks you about your bathroom habits, whether you often feel that someone is spying on you (no except for during this test) or similarly personally intrusive questions is a creepy boundary violation and hard to argue that it is work related. (they never seem to ask questions like ‘do you clip your fingernails in your cube’ or ‘do you always use the phone on speaker’) You of course give up access to this job process if you don’t play this game, so in that sense it is like declining to participate in a group interview, but like being asked to prepare dinner for the interviewers for a non chef job, it is a violation of your humanity.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Isn’t there some legislation trying to stop the use of these tests? Or perhaps certain ones? I seem to remember reading something about a lawsuit where a young man was saying they could be discriminatory to those with learning disabilities?

    3. Mike C.*

      Those tests are bullsh!t, and I don’t blame the OP in the slightest for not wanting to participate in what amounts to reading tea leaves and chicken entrails.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        It pains me (really!) to see such strong opinions on things that, in my experience, are valuable tools *when used correctly*. True, their accuracy and predictive capabilities are far from, say, those of a computer model of physical phenomena; still, when chosen and applied correctly by professionals, personality tests can offer insights that might be harder or impossible to get to just by interviewing. I’ve used them with success, both in recruiting and in assessing training needs, and quite a few of those who took them were pleasantly surprised at the results.

        That said, it is of course OP#1’s prerogative to opt out – as long as they accept that they can be removed from selection entirely. I wouldn’t do that, but there are people with bitter memories regarding psychological tests and avoiding them entirely is an understandable position.

        1. Mike C.*

          I have strong opinions because that’s what the evidence shows. Tests like Meyers-Briggs have been shown to be incredibly vague, prone to people answering aspirationally and have high rates of differing results when tests are administered again after several weeks.

          The fact that people are happy with the results doesn’t mean anything to me – everyone likes a biopsy that comes back negative but it’s no good if it’s wrong. Having an expert administer these tests don’t improve results.

          If you’ve had success with them, it’s by luck alone.

          1. LQ*

            It may not just be luck. It can also be that the outcome of the test impacts people, it can make a boss think and treat a staff member differently which can make them behave differently. It isn’t a neutral thing, it is an active thing. They aren’t just sitting back and going huh, that’s a thing. They are going, now I’m going to fast track this person to management because of a test that is a single snapshot rather than an overview of their total of work and actual experience, and this other person who has a strong work history but did “poorly” on the test which is a single snapshot, we are going to side track.

          2. Graciosa*

            I think we have different opinions of Myers-Briggs (mine has been not only helpful but also consistent across multiple tests many years apart). I had the second version a little over a year ago which has some additional aspects, and while it was (again) consistent with my overall type, the “pressure prompted” aspect was very interesting and absolutely spot on.

            That said, I don’t understand why anyone would use these – or any other personality tests – in hiring. I care about performance on the job, demonstrated history of success in the tasks I need handled, etc. I don’t see how a personality test would get me there.

            I also rebel a bit at the idea that there are “right” personalities for a job – that doesn’t make sense to me (and is contrary even to the instructions about how MBTI was supposed to be used). Different people bring different strengths to the same role, and the team is better for it when it happens.

            Strong teams are diverse ones and not a collection of clones.

            1. Tammy*

              One company I’ve worked for liked to use these tests (not the Meyers-Briggs, but something very much like it) to “help teams understand one another’s styles” to work together more effectively. Whether or not you agree that the test is a useful tool to achieve that purpose, that’s not an unreasonable goal. The difference, though, was that the test was administered AFTER a candidate was hired, with an aim to saying “your personality is more like X, and some of the people on your team are Y and Z, so here’s how you can understand one another better.”

              Using a personality test as part of a hiring decision is, as my grandmother liked to say, a whole other kettle of fish.

              1. Perse's Mom*

                Yeah, my employer may use this same thing. This color means you’re this kind of personality, which means you tend to approach problems this way, and coworkers may want to approach you -this- way for best results, etc.

                Problem being it’s really easy to skew the results in the direction you want on purpose, or even less intentionally just by being in a different state of mind. (ie Perse’s Angry Mom’s test results lean red, which is not the usual)

            2. catsAreCool*

              After I took a Meyers-Briggs test, once I understood the results, it was a relief. I’m an INTJ and female – INTJ’s (basically all IN’s) are fairly rare, and INT females are rarer. I had spent years wondering what was wrong with me and not really being able to articulate exactly why it seemed like my thought process worked differently than other people’s (not saying either is better or worse, just different).

              I agree that you shouldn’t use the MBTI to decide whether someone fits in a role or not. It can be useful when people are having a tough time communicating with each other through.

          3. neverjaunty*

            Yup. People are happy with the results of horoscopes and Tarot readings, too. That doesn’t make them useful and appropriate predictors or give them any meaningful place in hiring.

            1. Green*

              This may be of interest to, you, neverjaunty, and in response to graciosa’s comment about “right” personalities for jobs–ABA had a great article on how many excellent lawyers and perhaps the majority of all lawyers are introverts, even though people assume that being a good lawyer=being an extrovert.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Thanks for the pointer, I saw the headline but forgot to go back and read the article. It makes perfect sense. 90% of lawyering is sitting around doing paperwork, after all!

            2. Minion*

              Ha! The joke’s on you! My psychic told me I’d encounter negativity from an unexpected source today and see? Now I’m just going to sit here and wait for that, also unexpected, windfall coming my way.

        2. Anxa*

          I have bitter memories of them because I have had managers call to cancel interviews. My resume, cover letter, and drop-off of application, went very well in some of these cases. They’d say to just retake the test, they’d love to have me on-board, but they were so far removed from the corporate application process that they didn’t even seem to realize that I couldn’t retake the test for another 6 months to a year.

          I’m sure it’s great for employers, but it’s not great for the long-term unemployed whose references and interpersonal communication with staff can’t make up for a red or yellow flag on their personality score.

          1. Ife*

            Being told you “failed” a personality test is a special kind of humiliating. It’s like being in middle school and the “popular” kids don’t accept you because you’re not wearing the right clothes and don’t listen to the right music.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          I’m afraid I’m with Mike. All they’re good for is a vague impression of communication styles–anything more in-depth is pretty much the same as hiring someone based on their zodiac sign. Any company that relies heavily on these metrics in hiring is going to miss out on some good candidates. You can’t really slot people as neatly as all that.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Ha, can you imagine “We can’t hire you right now because it’s the year of the monkey and you’re a rooster”

        4. Green*

          You may also be screening out some highly qualified, perfectly wonderful people just by virtue of using these tests for hiring. When I’m job hunting, it’s as much about me evaluating potential jobs as the other way around.

        5. Honeybee*

          It depends on the personality test. Many personality tests are actually not accurate or validated. And MANY of them are validated with small homogeneous samples.

        6. Lindsay J*

          One test I took felt like it was made with Cards Against Humanity cards.

          It consisted of putting a bunch of items and phrases in order from “best” to “worst”.

          Things I recall on the test include:

          One man’s search for justice
          A television that has been struck by lightening
          A refrigerator with nothing in it
          A mother-in-law
          A warm hug
          Blood-born pathogens
          A tree
          Sitting on the beach

          There were six sets of these.

          It was for a customer service position at an FBO (a place where people store, refuel, etc private planes).

          Apparently I did well on the test but I really don’t think it had any value whatsoever.

          The rest of the personality tests I’ve ever taken basically consisted of selecting:
          Strongly agree
          Strongly disagree

          For questions like:
          Its maddening when courts let guilty criminals go free.
          I make friends easily
          Sometimes people do things that annoy me

          I doubt any of them used have been reviewed by the psychological or scientific community, and I also doubt that they have any sort of validity, or reliability.

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            OMG, that’s hilarious. I now have a mental picture of an interview involving actual Cards Against Humanity cards: “The orgy was interrupted by the arrival of…fill in the blank.”

        7. Observer*

          It pains me (really!) to see such strong opinions on things that, in my experience, are valuable tools *when used correctly*

          But that’s the key. Even if you are correct that the test is valuable, using them as a key decision making factor is most definitely NOT using them correctly.

          Add to that the fact that most of these tests have NOT been validated, and you get strong opinions for a very good reason.

      2. techfool*

        Iagree, to me it’s up there with astrology.
        I had this question “are you afraid of snakes”?
        How is that relevant?

        1. Not an IT Guy*

          Had to take a test for a job I applied for one time, I was sent a rejection letter a few days later telling me that I wouldn’t be satisfied with the job and that’s why they were rejecting me. Needless to say I was angry and wrote off the test as useless, after all job satisfaction is no indication of how well you’ll perform.

          1. Graciosa*

            There was a pretty highly publicized case some years ago of a man who was rejected as a policeman after his (required) intelligence test revealed an IQ that was too high!

            The department determined that you would not be happy as a policeman if you were smart, and eliminated any such candidates (I think the cutoff was around 120).

            I still find this mind boggling.

            The candidate’s lawsuit to eliminate the rule was unsuccessful, but he eventually found a job in law enforcement elsewhere.

            And the department that refused to hire him was permitted to go on ensuring that no one of any intelligence would work there.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              No Einsteins allowed.

              Just my opinion, the joke is on them. IQ can be fluid, if I don’t feel well or if I have hit a bad point in life I might not do as well on an IQ test. Conversely, if I am pumped up and having a great day/week my test score may be higher.

              My father took an IQ test when he signed up for the army in WWII. He landed on a very good number for that test. I asked my father what he thought of the test. He settled back in his chair and thought for a minute. Then he said, “IQ tests measure an aspect of intelligence but not the sum total of intelligence. There are more things that go into being intelligent that are not reflected on that test.” We had this conversation in the 1960s. Today this is generally understood, but not everyone has gotten the memo- like this police department.

            2. AndersonDarling*

              Ooo, that’s the kind of stuff that annoys me. These companies say they want diversity, but they actually want all their employees to think and act the same way.

            3. BananaPants*

              My husband was told twice that he was removed from a hiring process because his Wonderlic score was too high for the position he was seeking and they felt he’d grow bored too quickly; basically that they felt he was too smart for the sales role in question.

              1. Myrin*

                I’ve always found this “too smart” and “growing bored” reasoning odd. I’m an aspiring academic but my part-time job is in the kitchen of an inn and I’m enjoying the hell out of this job. I mean, I guess there are highly-educated people who don’t want to do “menial” work and the people in charge of the hiring who say the “too smart” stuff have been burned by those but I don’t know, it feels like such a bad thing to generalise.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  The thing is, if you’re smart, you’ll find something interesting about ANY job. You can engage your intelligence while you’re chopping logs. And some menial stuff offers even more opportunity for applying your smarts, actually.

                  If you want something w/ lots of variables to manage, be a waitress. Or a line cook.

                2. Kelly L.*

                  @TootsNYC, I disagree somewhat–I’ve definitely had menial jobs that did actually bore me, though I guess you could follow your thought to its logical conclusion and decide I’m not smart. ;) I did engage my mind during them…on anything but the job. I would get so much creative writing done after work, because my mind would have been making it up all day while doing the boring work. I work at a job that uses my mind now, and it’s a trade-off, because I don’t have as much mental “juice” for personal creativity anymore.

                  Sorry, that just hit my “parental sayings” button, the “only the boring are ever bored” thing, which I find it hard to agree with.

                3. Swoop*

                  Kelly L – agreed! The job itself might be boring but the very dullness of it allows one’s brain to ponder all sorts of wonderful things…
                  Heck, isn’t that the reason Stephen King stopped teaching and went back to janitorial?

            4. neverjaunty*

              The department’s logic was that police work involved a lot of tedious paperwork and that they found candidates with very high IQs tended to become dissatisfied. I have no idea whether there is any truth to this, particularly given the problematic link of IQ and “intelligence” or ability to do routine tasks, but there you are.

              1. Chameleon*

                I have a friend who was told, after he failed the psych test for the local PD, that his failure was because he didn’t see things in clear “right vs. wrong”, and his point of views were too nuanced. So maybe that’s also why they don’t want smart people.

        2. Margot, Terror of the Schoolbus*

          Funny story: I took a test with the same question a few months ago, and I thought it (and a few other doozies) were weird enough that I googled the specific language when I got home from the interview. Turns out those specific personality tests were developed by L. Ron Hubbard and are now sold by an arm of Scientology. Good times.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            How interesting! Thanks for adding this info. Can you tell us what words or phrases you googled on so we can see, also?

            1. SusanIvanova*

              Just search for “scientology personality test”; they never change it. The first hit is for “Oxford Capacity Analysis” but don’t be fooled – it has nothing to do with Oxford University, it’s just a name they picked to be misleading.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Oh wow, that’s really good to know. I think that, unless it seemed like an amazing fit otherwise, I’d immediately drop out of applying to any employer who had anything to do with the cult of Scientology.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Other important personality questions to ask…

            Are you okay with killing spiders?
            Do you clean up after yourself?
            Can you use a plunger?

          2. Ineloquent*

            We had a baby rattlesnake under someone’s cubical trashcan a few months ago. Just slithered in right under the door. it was really cute, actually – only a couple inches long.

            1. blackcat*

              But the babies are way more dangerous! Stay away from the baby rattle snakes!

              I say this as someone who loves reptiles and has a healthy respect, but not fear, of adult rattlers. I consider them to be a very polite poisonous snake. But the babies do not always rattle and are far more likely to release venom if they bite you. A majority of bites from adult rattlers on large mammals don’t release venom–it takes them a little while to make it, and if they use up their venom on something they can’t eat, they might not have any when an appetizing mouse comes by. Plus, nasty puncture wounds are generally enough to get large mammals to run away.

        3. alter_ego*

          I’m not afraid of snakes, but I’d be deeply concerned with the question anyway, because that implies that your job will involve snakes, which, while I’m not afraid of them, is also not really what I’m signing up for.

        4. Owl*

          I took one just the other day, and two of the questions were “are your hands and feet often cold” and “when you get hungry, is it suddenly, with a pang?”

          1. Artemesia*

            Those are probably correlated with some psychological defect or neurosis over a huge population and then there are people who have some physical condition in which hands and feet are cold or a stomach situation and those people are marked as paranoid, or narcissistic or whatever the hell else the thing is correlated with.

            1. Tau*

              This is the kind of thing I’m really worried about with personality tests – I’m on the autistic spectrum and there is a reason I don’t disclose that to potential employers during the interview process. (Or ever, generally.) But it’s a pervasive enough condition that it could definitely be picked up on through tests like that. “Do you dislike noisy environments?” = hey, look, potential indicator of autism right there.

              I believe the tests that can specifically indicate disabilities like that are illegal, although I may be thinking of the UK. That said, you’d have to prove they’re discriminatory first. :/

          2. Anna*

            The first of those questions is really highly correlated with gender (because estrogen is one of the hormones that affects blood flow). If I were this employer’s attorney, that would make me nervous, regardless of what the results are used for.

          1. LQ*

            Relevant to the job how? One place I worked in very -very!- briefly had bats, rats, and twice a snake. That was…difficult. Though a friend apparently had a bunch in the office building because of the season and the building position. So strange.

            If the job was actually like, here you’re going to be doing nothing but working with snakes and knowing where they are? Fine. No problem.

          2. mander*

            It could conceivably be relevant to my job. I’m an archaeologist and mostly interested in the material remains of the past; however, if you are working outside in relatively remote parts of the US it’s not unlikely that you will run into a snake or two at some point. I’ve encountered several kinds of snake while out doing survey, including rattlesnakes and cotton mouths (but I don’t know anyone who has been bitten).

            I’d be very surprised to get this question in an interview for an office job, though!

      3. fposte*

        I know about the challenges to Myers-Briggs, but do you feel the same way about psychometrics like the MMPI? I have no particular attachment to it, but I didn’t think it had received the same kind of challenge.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          From what I know, the results of those tests are only significant when it is administered and interpreted by a skilled psychiatrist/psychologist. A hiring manager would have difficulty using them properly.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            Actually, the MMPI is self-administered (the client sits alone with the test either loaded on a computer or with a bubble sheet and a pencil) and the scoring/reporting is generated by a computer.

            There are many neuropsychological tests that do need to be administered and interpreted by a trained professional, but the MMPI isn’t one of them.

        2. Mike C.*

          It’s hard to say, but without the professional administration and clinical setting I would have doubts about it’s efficacy.

        3. Prismatic Professional*

          IIRC, the MMPI is only useful for certain types of psychopathology. I remember a professor saying she’d been allowed to see the results of one of the famous serial killers and his scores were scarily “normal.” The exact average on every measure…which in itself is incredibly abnormal.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            That doesn’t surprise me. Psychopaths and Borderlines can be incredible at manipulating tests like this and fooling therapists. I have a family member that’s been assessed “normal” by many psychiatrists when they so clearly have all the signs of having Borderline personality disorder.

        4. Winter is Coming*

          When my mom was in training to be a psychotherapist, she gave me the MMPI as practice (it took for-ev-er to complete). Seeing the results were fascinating and they were pretty accurate. Talk about ODD questions though…I wish I could remember some of them, but one of the questions involved the consistency of your bowel movements. I also remember that she explained to me that some of the questions were put there to deliberately test your honesty in how you answered the questions.

          But obviously (in my mind anyway), the MBTI & MMPI are in two very different ball parks. This makes me wonder to what degree these other personality tests that commenters have been subjected to are validated.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, at first I was thinking MBTI and then I wondered if it was more like the MMPI. And then I wondered if it made a difference.

            I took the MMPI when I was like 16; no idea how different it is now.

            1. Winter is Coming*

              I took it at about that age too. In my 40s now…I wonder how different our results would be now??

          2. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Consistency of your…

            Oh dear God. If I was ever asked *that* as part of a job application process, I would withdraw my candidacy immediately. (And put why on Glassdoor. And email that guy from Gawker who showed up on the post about the interview where people had to cook a group dinner.) I can’t imagine a redder flag.

        5. SusanIvanova*

          Back when I was 16 and Apple ][s were state of the art a friend of mine was hired to computerize the MMPI. He had me run through it just to test it, and since it was just to test the software, not me, I picked the obvious “right” answer – not significantly off what I’d pick honestly, but you know how it is when you’re 16.

          The person he was writing the software for did the analysis on my answers anyway, and told my friend that he was surprised how mentally well-balanced I was for a 16 year old.

      4. Karina Jameson*

        I agree that these tests are crap. I used to have to administer them and ended up quitting my job because of it. Because of these damn tests, we hired several people that were good at…? You guessed it. Personality Test Taking. They were people that were difficult to work with, but knew how to take it so they looked like they had super leadership skills. Ridiculous.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t think OP should refuse, but I totally get why s/he doesn’t want to take it. I went to an interview where they gave Meyers-Briggs tests and I took the test but ended up withdrawing my candidacy because I think it’s junk science and don’t want to work somewhere that uses it as a decision-making tool. I have the exact opposite personality type that is supposed to be “best” for my type of work, but I still do a great job. I would never have been hired here if they used personality testing. (I do find some types helpful, like DISC)

      1. Nico M*

        and theres the other problem, even if the tests are valid they can be misapplied by idiots.

        Logically, someone with the ‘wrong personality’ and a proven track record is a better candidate than someone with the ‘right’ personality.
        They can do the job and more!

      2. Kyrielle*

        I found the abbreviated Meyers-Briggs really useful to me…after it gave me my results I found myself arguing with them, and I learned a lot from thinking about why I thought it was garbage. ;)

      3. GG*

        For reasons I will never understand, Oldjob had me take a personality test not as part of the interviewing process, but after I was hired. My brain works in odd ways, and I always have a hard time with those “no right or wrong answer” kinds of tests, so I was completely unsurprised to learn that the computer didn’t know what to make of me, and gave an inconclusive result. So of course my Boss thought the solution to that was to ask me to take the test again and rethink my answers. How the hell is that going to give a “more accurate” result? Thankfully, I was supposed to retake the test “when I had time” and I never did, and it got forgotten.

        1. Liza*

          We have a personality test after hiring, too. Ours is specifically around communication styles, though, and the idea is to help everyone know each other’s preferred communication style for better understanding. I like it a lot, actually.

          (I talked to someone else whose company uses the same test we use, but they use it to determine what jobs you can do in the company. My reaction to that was ICK ICK NO even though I like our use of the same test.)

        2. auntie_cipation*

          I did the MBTI after being hired as well (Federal Government job). On the face of it, it seemed reasonable enough as a way to address awareness of introvert/extrovert styles (this was a land management agency where introverts far outnumber the extroverts, as these are the people who would rather work a long, sometimes-solitary day in the woods than in an office with other people).

          My problem wasn’t with a conceptual objection; it was with my personal lack of fit with the test. If I was honest I would have had to answer nearly every single question with “it depends”.

          “When you are in a group facing a challenge, are you more comfortable taking a leadership role or a follower role?” IT DEPENDS. And if I answer in the middle zone, which implies that “eh, I could function ok in either situation”, that is very far from accurate for me. What’s accurate for me is “in X situation I would feel very strongly that I could and would want to take a leadership role, and in Y situation I would cower in the back and do everything possible to avoid taking a leadership role.”

          “Do you make friends easily?” IT DEPENDS. This question carries an implicit assumption that making friends easily is something we all desire. But for me, “Do you have the ability to make friends easily” and “Do you prefer to make friends easily” are two very different things.

          I can’t personally understand how other people can answer these questions without those kinds of caveats, but obviously that’s not true for many/most people — that is exactly how I learned that my brain works differently than others — sometimes to my great benefit and sometimes to my great detriment.

          So while I’m happy in concept to take those tests, I haven’t been presented with one that I can easily answer and which seems to give an accurate description of my actual personality or style of operating.

          1. Observer*

            This is why a common characteristic of the most accurate tests (and none of the are 100%), require someone trained to both administer and interpret them.

      4. NewHere*

        My company uses DISC for hiring and I’ve hired people that have tested outside the “norm” for the position, and they’ve all turned out great. I think personality tests can be useful tools but only if you understand their limitations and don’t use it as a crutch when making hiring decisions.

        1. TootsNYC*

          There’s a way to use those tests! Never hire the person whose score “fits” the position; always hire someone else.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          I have found DISC to be really useful in learning how to communicate with coworkers. I’m kind of an “outlier” in my small dept. of consulting types so I keep having to remind myself that they are just really different than I am so I don’t get frustrated by their somewhat robotic mannerisms.

        3. Annie*

          We use DISC too and with good results. Everyone here in our small office falls within 3 categories. Tried hiring people completely different — they didn’t work out. I think for a really large company, tests like that don’t really matter much because there’s going to be somewhere for just about anyone to fit in. When you are talking about a very small company (less than 10 full time employees here!) then personality REALLY MATTERS.

          1. Observer*

            Up to a point. And, in general, these test just don’t tell you enough to really make a good decisions anyway. Especially with tests like the Meyers Brigg, which is surprisingly easy to game, if you want to, and which is also incredibly inaccurate. It’s not unique in these issues – google “test retest consistency” or “test retest reliability” to understand the issue.

    5. AnotherHRPro*

      Often personality tests that are used in selection processes (things like Hogan) have been validated. In these situations, the test is screening out particular candidates that studies have shown will not be successful in a specific role (e.g., sales). In my experience with these tools, the hiring manager never sees the results or any type of analysis. They just get a pass/fail or more frequently a good/maybe/not recommended.

    6. OP#1*

      I don’t think they are unreasonable but we’re allowed to disagree :) Here were my reasons for refusing:

      1. I knew nothing of the company that was administering the test – I possibly should have asked, I’ll admit that.

      2. It was being administered online and there is no way to confirm that my data is being kept safe. I read the privacy agreement of the cognitive reasoning test and they said “your data is safe, until it’s not”

      3. I checked with a friend who works in the industry and unless I could prove that licensed professionals were involved in the administration/scoring, it was useless, and the “most effective” ones ask very personal questions. It’s the same reason my facebook profile is private and I don’t invite employers into my home, it’s none of their business.

      I think it’s “unreasonable” because I equate these with handwriting samples and tarot cards. It’s all a matter of your opinion and what you choose to believe vs scientific fact. (hey, I believe in some non-mainstream things too, but I wouldn’t hire someone based on it!)

      Meanwhile, I got the third interview anyone and no one mentioned it at all. I’ll know by the end of the week.

  5. Julie Noted*

    Re 3, my first thought was to wonder whether the notoriously conservative organisation is specifically a political lobby group or, say, the Catholic Church. Massive difference there.

    1. SiobhanRecruits*

      (#3 letter writer here)

      It was a faith-based “public policy organization” – inter-denominational Christian (not Catholic and not tied with any one particular religion).

      1. Chinook*

        But if you discriminate based on what you perceive may be their religious beliefs (i.e. Christian), is that running the risk o becoming illegal discrimination? I am asking to know where the line is, not to start a “which is better” one.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          She’s not refusing to hire based on religious beliefs; she’s wondering how to get answers to the questions she needs.

          It’s also legal to refuse to hire based on lack of a legitimate job qualification, which in this case could end up being that he didn’t demonstrate any commitment to the organization’s goals.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            But please don’t make the assumption that the person “didn’t demonstrate any commitment to the organization’s goals” and thus is not qualified, based on what you know of the religion of where they have worked before.

        2. Student*

          It’s a public policy organization, so the OP is likely acting on the organization’s stated public policy rather than its religious affiliation.

  6. Merry and Bright*

    #1 I’ve done umpteen of these personality tests and there seem to be various ways of setting them out. Different yes or no questions, qualities to put in your order of importance, what-if scenarios, which terrible unethical act you think is worse than another, etc. I’m no fan either but then job-hunting can be a great obstacle course.

    What surprised me here is that it is being done at the third stage. The tests I’ve done have all (I think) been at the beginning as part of the filter so they can eliminate the so-called wrong personalities early on. I think it is better to meet people too because humans have more personality and nuance than software, even when selecting possible interviewees.

    1. Meg Murry*

      If the tests are something the company is paying a 3rd party for (like an official MBTI, not one of the generic ones from the internet) they are paying a fee for each test (or by the block of 50 or 100, etc) so it makes sense to wait and do it for the top candidates, not every single applicant. On the other hand, if it is a minimum threshold type of test of aptitude, it may make sense to screen all applicants so you don’t waste your time interviewing unqualified candidates. For instance, I’ve worked places that hired a lot of general labor (both skilled and unskilled) and they would use tests like the Wonderlic test, which are pretty much just a “can you follow written instructions or are you functionally illiterate?” test – that was always done early on, just to get it out of the way.

      I’m with OP that it is silly to base hiring decisions on personality tests – but I would probably suck it up and do it if I otherwise wanted the job. I think it would be worth asking your potential boss or hiring manager during the interview what kind of stock they place in the test. If the manager is super into them, that might be a warning flag to me. If the manager isn’t into them and basically says “it’s something corporate makes us do for everyone”, that is probably a warning flag about politics and bureaucracy at the company.

      The only one of these personality type tests I’ve really ever gotten use from was a test called “Social Styles” that put you into the category of “Analytical, Amiable, Driver or Expressive”. What was most interesting about it was that you didn’t take it yourself – you sent it to 5 or so peers, colleagues and/or former managers – so it wasn’t about who you think you are, but rather how you come across to your coworkers. A lot of the questions had to do with not just how you responded in typical situations, but also how you responded when under stress or pressure, and your typical communication style (a “just the facts, to the point” style or a “dive into every minute detail” style) for instance. What was most useful about it was that over time most of the company had taken it, so we could use it to tailor our communication – be a little more relationship driven with people that valued that, a little more direct with people that valued that, etc.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I once applied for a job that included the following, in this order:
      Phase 1:
      -phone screen with the recruiter
      -DISC assessment
      Phase 2:
      -face to face interview with the hiring manager (that ended up lasting three hours)
      Phase 3:
      -request for FIFTEEN references in 5 specific categories
      -multiple choice personality test
      -one-page essay that would be “evaluated” by a third-party consultant

      I GooglED of the company name in the fine print on the personality test, and discovered it was part of some $$$$$ management consulting scheme. I figured if the company had LITERALLY bought into this program and this is what the recruiting piece was like, I could only imagine what the actual “managing” advice would be. And I ran.

      1. mander*

        15 references??? I only needed two to become a citizen of another country; what the heck were they hiring for?

  7. Shami*

    Regarding OP3, many seem to misunderstand the meaning of bigot, which is actually defined as: “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.”

    Therefore liberals who are intolerant of those who have conservative values are actually bigots themselves.

    A liberal organization can be regarded as a ‘notoriously liberal organization’ similar to OP3’s statement that the candidate currently works at a ‘notoriously conservative organization’.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The definition in more common usage is a person who one regards the members of a demographic group (race/sex/religion/sexual orientation/etc.) with hatred or bias. But that’s not something we need to get into here, as it’s not actually relevant to answer the letter-writer’s question.

    2. hbc*

      Interesting. I consider myself a liberal who is very tolerant of people with different opinions. I don’t think everyone with a racist or sexist or whatever viewpoint is evil. But that doesn’t mean I’d let an avowed anti-abortion activist be the greeter at my abortion clinic, or let someone who thinks homosexuality is a sin be part of my It Gets Better outreach program. Do you consider that bigotry?

    3. Mike C.*

      Are you really pulling the, “you have to be tolerant of intolerance to be truly tolerant” thing?

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Actually, “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions” is merely what Google returns as a definition. I consider Merriam Webster more authoritative when it comes to the English language, and their definitions of “bigot” are much more well-defined and less ambiguous (emphasis mine):

      Simple definition: a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)

      Full definition: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

    5. SiobhanRecruits*

      (LW#3 here)

      We’re not intolerant of his values, certainly he has the right to believe whatever he wants (as I mentioned in the letter). Our concern is that he might not be tolerant of our values which could lead to difficult working relationship with his gay boss and reluctance to perform the tasks we would require in terms of promoting the above-mentioned controversial services. If he doesn’t have any personal bias (or is able to overcome/suppress it if he does) in order to be able to do those things, great! The question is how do we find that out?

      For your last sentence, OK, I’m fine with calling us a notoriously liberal organization, although we’re quite small so I doubt we have any notoriety. The candidate’s current organization is large and well-known, which is what I meant by using that adjective.

      1. Chinook*

        “Our concern is that he might not be tolerant of our values which could lead to difficult working relationship with his gay boss and reluctance to perform the tasks we would require in terms of promoting the above-mentioned controversial services”

        I am personally be careful of the conclusions you jump to, which is is I love the questions Allison recommend because they are based on actions, not beliefs. I can believe homosexual acts are wrong and still full respect and like m gay boss as well a fight for equal rights for for humans. I can be anti-abortion and still give compassionate abortion after-care (and there are groups that do just that). I can believe in sex before marriage is no longer good idea but still understand the need for safe sex.

        1. SiobhanRecruits*

          I completely agree. These may be nonissues – which is why I use “might” and “could” in the sentence you quote. The exact point of my question is that I am trying NOT to assume, but trying to ask him if/how his personal values, if any, might affect his ability to do his job well.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          And if I were completely against abortion, I might decide that the best way to help people who have had one was with your organization providing post-abortion care, rather than trying to outlaw it, like I did at the last job. And perhaps I felt I could do that in a completely non-judgmental and loving way, so that any personal beliefs never affect my work. But how would I put THAT in a cover-letter? I can see how he might have decided the less said the better.

          As someone who is currently working in an industry that I never expected, considering my background (long time Audubon member now working in oil/gas), I can do a good job, fully support my current company, and don’t have problems with my work. Plus, I look at who I am: long time Audubon member, evangelical Christian, somewhat left of center politically – and know that the boxes that people are put in based on our labels can be incorrect altogether. People usually aren’t that simple.

          Not to say that he shouldn’t have addressed it in his cover letter, but if he otherwise looks good, I agree that Alison’s questions are good, because they are based on what he does, not on the boxes you think he might be in.

  8. Fruitfly*

    Regarding Question #4, I believe it is sometimes reasonable to first get an non-career related job in an organization in order to get your foot in the door. Later on if an internal position in that org opens, you can have to the chance to apply (with current manager’s approval). The job could add experience to your work and you can still continue to develop many useful skills.

    Sometimes we need a job fast and networking sometimes takes time.

    1. misspiggy*

      I think it depends on how far the job is from what you want to do. Sometimes this route is the best way into a nonprofit, but the first job has to be something you can see yourself doing happily for a while.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Agreed. Otherwise, you’ve wasted their time hiring and training you when you sincerely didn’t want that position. And not all companies have a specific growth track, that’d be something to consider before doing this. If it’s a “thing” at this company to move people around and up, then it’s not so bad to do it, I guess. If you might be in that role indefinitely, then it’s not fair to anyone.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, but sometimes you can tell when someone’s just trying to get their foot in the door – like, all of their experience and education is related to One Thing Our Organization Does, but they’re applying for a job in the division of Completely Different Things. And I wouldn’t choose that person over an equally qualified candidate who actually seems interested in the job we’re hiring them to do.

    3. Temperance*

      I would add the caveat, though, that this does not always work if you are female and take a typical pink collar job to get in the door. It’s very hard to stop being seen as the receptionist once people know you as the receptionist.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Not limited to females. My husband was a grad assistant who, after he graduated, got a job in the same department. People who now shared a job title with him still asked him to make their copies.

      2. themmases*

        I agree with you, although I think being willing to start out in something more general can be a good way to get into the *role* you want (or even to figure out what you want). Entry level jobs can be a great way to learn about a field and see which direction you grow in, or even just what you don’t want in your next job. However, it can be hard to shed that making copies image without leaving.

        If the OP really has their heart set on this one organization, they risk spoiling it for themself by coming in as someone who might always be seen as the receptionist. It would be more productive to take the right or almost-right job at a related organization that is hiring. They will be more attractive to their dream organization eventually, and probably be happier with their job while they wait.

    4. Stitch*

      I think there’s something to be said about taking a strategically chosen lower level job to make connections and network, that isn’t always true of someone trying to just “get their foot in the door”.

      For instance, I’m interested in becoming a personal trainer and asked a friend about it. She recommended I apply to be admin at an at-home health service that she knows is hiring, because while the job is basic it’d be a great way to make connections with the people who place and purchase personal training services. Alternatively, being the front desk person at Golds Gym would probably not warrant me the same connections.

      “Get your foot in the door” is the wrong mentality. “Start making connections” is better – so if the lower level job at a company will actually be getting you the connections you need, it can be worth it.

  9. Jeanne*

    #2: Your coworkers want to SURPRISE your manager with changes to everyone’s job descriptions? In what job world would anyone think this is ok? It’s not ok. I can’t tell how much the CEO is involved in this. I do get the idea he is not initiating it. If I were the manager, I would be really disturbed by the complete lack of respect. Stand your ground and keep repeating that you want to wait until your manager returns.

      1. Chinook*

        Especially since the receptionist is probably not being paid at the same level as those who want to give her their work.

    1. Newbie*

      I would hate to be that manager. Coming back from vacation to find staff took it upon themselves to rearrange job responsibilities on their own certainly would be a surprise. Based on the information provided in the letter, I would think the manager would appreciate and respect the LW for not giving in and waiting for the manager to return to discuss potential changes. Having new and additional staff can provide an opportunity to reorganize and shift responsibilities, but the manager should definitely be involved in that discussion and decisions.

      1. RVA Cat*

        No kidding. It’s not like he can profit from their mistakes like, say, a plumber can after a homeowner tried to “fix” things…

    2. AnotherFed*

      I can’t imagine any universe where a surprise job duty change while the manager is on vacation will go over well! Be polite, but firm, OP, and wait for your manager to get back.

    3. LQ*

      This seems so incredibly weird to me. I also feel like it can’t be a huge org, though there are clearly several groups here. Who would do this? Why? In what universe is it ok to go TADA! My duties are going to go to the receptionist you don’t manage and whose manager doesn’t know. SURPRISE and welcome back from vacation boss!

    4. Beezus*

      I also raised my eyebrow at the “feeling sorry for the receptionist because she doesn’t have enough work to do” bit, especially when the solution was giving the receptionist all their crappy work. That’s right up there with shuffling off your crappy work on someone else because “she’s just soooo good at it.”

        1. Meg Murry*

          No kidding. It’s one thing if you are politely asking the receptionist if she can assist with tasks that make sense for her to handle during slow periods, if there is such a thing – it’s another to hand over duties altogether to the receptionist.

        2. Ama*

          Yes — this reminds me *so* much of my last office manager/receptionist job where it was *always* assumed I did not have enough to do. Of course, that was largely because I was working on projects for every single department and the coworkers in each department only thought I was doing the tasks that directly pertained to them.

          I also had an elaborate filing system so I could make sure not to miss anything — which meant I moved things out of my inbox as soon as I saw them into one of my many “to do, [project name]” folders. Coworkers would walk by my desk, see my main inbox was empty and say “must be nice not to have anything to do.” Meanwhile I was so overwhelmed with work I almost developed an ulcer.

          1. Artemesia*

            This is a great example of how impression management is critical. In those shoes I would have had a big fat ‘todo’ file holder on my desk with ‘To Do’ in big letters and then the several files, probably in different colors.’ Stage managing is kind of a drag but it is often critical if your role is being misperceived.

            1. Triangle Pose*

              Impression management – I’ve never heard it described so aptly! I usually think of “managing expectations” but the optics of the situation are also so important.

            2. Ama*

              Honestly, if anyone had bothered to actually look *at* my desk, they would have figured it out pretty quickly — it’s just that I sat at one of those reception desks where there is a counter at standing height, and that’s where the main inbox was. People would look at that and not bother to look at the eight feet of desk height counter in my actual seating area that were covered in stacks of files.

              If I had put more than just the inbox on the standing counter I would have gotten a lecture from our big boss who hated clutter. I do not miss that job.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I’m reminded of the fact that when a new customer support rep comes onboard whee I work, after initial training when they’re ready to have their own accounts, all the other reps are to choose, say 10 to 20 accounts to give up and it’s always the crappy ones!

    5. Katie the Fed*

      as a manager, when I come back from vacation – I’m nervous enough already to make sure everything went well in my absence. If my team took it upon themselves to take advantage of that and re-align their work, I would be LIVID. And I would probably have a hard time trusting the instigators again.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I would be reminding myself that firing them all on the spot was probably not the smart play, and that I should interview replacements first. Admittedly, I have zero tolerance for the ‘better to ask for forgiveness than permission’ mindset, but these jamokes are acting like extras in a Coen Brothers movie – and the contempt for the receptionist is pretty much a deal breaker.

    6. Mockingjay*

      #2. Managers do NOT like surprises.

      I supervised a group of employees who provided documentation support across a very large department of four teams. Work was assigned as it came in. I had junior and senior staff, and mixed their assignments so they could be cross-trained and advance their experience. It also allowed us to manage peak periods effectively.

      While I was on maternity leave, the team leads decided that they wanted dedicated staff for each team. This idea had been floated before and was turned down, but this time I wasn’t around to stop it.

      Unfortunately, the reassignments were based on personal preference, not skill sets and experience. I returned to a very miserable staff. The teams were isolated from each other so my senior staffers couldn’t mentor the juniors. Some had very heavy workloads; others twiddled their thumbs. It was horrible. I never did get the staffing changed back, and most of the staff ended up leaving, including myself.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        This reminded me of a time I was on vacation and my second-in-command implemented a MAJOR process change without my approval. THe worst part was that she’d been advocating for it for a while and just tried to push it through while I was gone.

        It was one of several stunts she pulled, but definitely the worst. She never recovered from it either – I moved her from that position and tell anyone who asks about hiring her that she needs a short leash because she can’t be trusted.

        1. CMT*

          Wow, that would suck! How did you handle it when you got back? Did you go with it, or did you change everything back to the way it was?

    7. TootsNYC*

      I would think the OP could (and maybe should) say: “You know, the manager is the only person authorized to make these changes. It’s absolutely not cool to just do this while he’s away.”

      “You realize this is not how businesses work, right? It’s not a club, where the members get to divide up the work themselves. The manager makes these decisions. You’re not in charge–he is.”

      “Don’t you touch my responsibilities. I’m not going to be called on the carpet by my boss because YOU are getting too big for your britches.”

      I mean, heck, the CEO is only -ADVOCATING- for a title change. If you could just do what you want, he’d have simply make the title change happen. But he hasn’t. He’s following protocol. So if even the CEO has to follow protocol, these low-level people sure don’t have the power to just switch this.

      I’m wondering if this manager has already come across as weak, and has been too collegial, perhaps.

    8. Stranger than fiction*

      Seriously it’s like they’re staging a mutiny and also clearly don’t respect the manager that’s out of town.

  10. Nico M*

    #1 just lie on the test

    By ‘lie’ i mean ‘strongly err towards the ideal”

    When taking the test, imagine you are working at your dream job for a cause you love with talented colleagues – some friends – and your personal life is great as well.

    1. The RO-Cat*

      The average person can lie successfully in a wrongly-built, not-well-thought or otherwise defective test. The professional ones are way harder to game. And many tests do include ways to gauge how sincere the subject was when completing. So, it’s not much of a solution for now.

      1. Nico M*

        They would say that though.

        A test rigorous enough not to be gamed probably wouldnt demean itself for this kind of crass use.

      2. LQ*

        They are super easy to game. All you need to know is what the “desired” outcome is. (I did this once to show my boss that we shouldn’t use them. I managed to answer in a way that “proved” I was a thing he totally knew to me not to be.) You can also fake the “sincerity”. Plus lots of the tests companies use are posted online and you can get the answers.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Exactly. Years ago I was asked to take one as pre screening for a sales job for an equipment leasing company. Turns out they were highly unethical and gouging companies, so in the test I answered the way I thought a normal ethical biz would want. But nope I was rejected and surely because they were looking for people with loose morals or ethics. I didn’t find out til a bit later what their business was truly about.

      3. Triangle Pose*

        RO-Cat, can you give an example of a question or type of question you think would be hard to game? You seem to be advocating for these tests and using them effectively and No snark – I’m genuinely curious what kinds of questions you think effectively hiding what a desired outcome would be.

        1. The RO-Cat*

          I guess I’ve been talking about something different than the others when using “personality test”. I was thinking about something like Big Five, Neo-PI-R and other tests (batteries, actually), things that are validated and normalized for the population (so, a version for the USA would differ in some aspects from a version for, say, Russia) and that have tons of research behind them (it takes anywhere form 1 to 5 years and thousands of trials for a team of psychologists, sociologists and statisticians to adapt a test to a different population). They’re not, mind you, perfect predictors in any way, shape or form; but, when administered professionally, coupled with other tools, prove useful in gauging the *normal tendencies* of the subject. DISC – and other such online gimmicks – are funny, but in no way would I take that into consideration for work.

          MBTI is in a wholly different ballpark, I won’t even touch the issue.

          About gaming the test: IIRC (I was in college some years ago) those batteries I was thinking about (tenths to hundreds of different questions) have some questions that are the same essentially, but formulated in various ways and repeated all along the test. More, for multi-dimensional tests, various dimensions have statistically significant correlations and when the answers show outliers (that is, things statistically improbable), that’s a red flag about the subject’s sincerity. Theoretically, one could game a serious test, but if so I’d like to meet that person – they would be a certain kind of genius in and of itself.

          I used – still use – tests (validated, normalized on the population) as one tool in a big toolbox. Relying solely on them is idiocy – as proved by the various horror stories here.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I was wondering it the OP could just ask what kind of personalities they are looking for in the role. Then pretend you are that person and go for it.

      1. Winter is Coming*

        Wouldn’t that have the potential to backfire though? Say you pretend you’re the personality they’re looking for, and they hire you. How long is pretending to be someone you’re not sustainable? For example, I can pretend to be an extrovert for a few hours maybe, but after that it’s going to wear me out. I certainly couldn’t do it long term. Worst case scenario, one may even get fired or have to quit because of poor fit.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Well, I think this presumes that whoever’s requiring this personality test isn’t actually the person you’ll be working with day-to-day. I could totally see a HR person being gung-ho about the test and using it as a gatekeeper, but one’s everyday manager not really caring about, or even ever knowing, the result.

          1. Anxa*

            I have never met a manager who seemed to know what was actually on the tests administered to the applicants they were hiring, because it was an online test through the corporate site and they’d had the job since before it was administered.

        2. TootsNYC*

          But this is assuming that the test means anything. And it also assumes that only one personality type can thrive in a job.

          Presumably the candidate would know they’re not an extrovert and would be worn out by a job that involves a lot of people contact.

        3. Elsajeni*

          Maybe, but on the other hand, a lot of personality tests are relatively meaningless or are really trying to screen for stuff that they’re not that effective at. As an example, I’ve taken a bunch of personality assessments when applying for retail jobs, and my impression is that the main things they want to screen for are:
          — Will you be friendly, cheerful, and helpful when interacting with customers?
          — Will you do the work you’re assigned, even if it’s not what you’d prefer to do, without complaining all the time?
          — Will you show up on time and get your work done?
          — Will you steal from us?
          But what they end up assessing is more like “Do you ever experience negative emotions?”, “Has anything ever gone wrong in your life?”, and “If you’re lazy or planning to steal from us, are you dumb enough to tell us so?” So that’s a case where I’m 100% in favor of lying on the test — answering it honestly gives them information that’s none of their business AND that doesn’t actually measure anything relevant to the job, and it’s not really a strain to “fake” being friendly and pleasant while you’re at work, so why not fake it on the test, too?

    3. Ragnelle*

      I’m usually a stickler for honesty, but I think I agree with this advice, especially if we are talking about some kind of online profile. My organization uses DISC, and I think it is a ridiculous program and we use it in hiring decisions (despite all of the oft-repeated caveats from all corners that we don’t).

      In one situation, we were hiring for a position and had 3 final candidates who were directed to take the profile. One in particular had a “bad” profile (his levels on a certain part, which are assessed by about 10 questions, were “too low”). Looking at his resume, to me it seemed like he was desperately unhappy with his current position and really wanting to make a change. I think if he’d have been able to project more of “successful professional X” rather than his actual state of mind at the time, he’d have gotten a fair shake.

      It may feel dishonest to lie, but I feel that a company that uses these tools is not being honest with job seekers (usually about what they are looking for, but also about how they evaluate candidates). And, yes, refusing to take the profile would render a candidate ineligible for hire, and we are not that large of an organization.

    4. Bowserkitty*

      I’ve taken a handful of these tests and there’s so much weird grey area in them that it makes it hard to figure out what the business would consider “ideal.” I remember taking one for the hell of it when an acquaintance needed a ride to his interview (it was a call center and they were having open interviews and I was bored waiting for him) and I actually failed, which was weird to me because I’m a pretty moral gal.

    5. Michaela T*

      I always told people the trick for passing the test OldJob gave was to not feel strongly about anything.

    6. OP#1*

      I was also really concerned about the confidentiality of my data. I had no idea where it was going and if it would be kept safe. They couldn’t assure me if the other test would be kept safe. (I minded less, I totally rock at cognitive assessments!)

  11. LSCO*

    #1 – I feel you, I really do. I hate these kind of tests – at best they’re woolly and the results are so broad they could apply to practically anyone, and at worst they’re highly intrusive. Unfortunately they are a growing part of the hiring process. My own personal opinion is that any organisation who relies on these tests is not an organisation I want to work for, but I also realise that many people don’t have the luxury of being so picky. Ultimately, I think if you want this job then you’ll need to suck it up and do the test – and be aware that even if you know the CEO personally, or are well-liked by the hiring manager this isn’t an automatic get-out-of-testing-free card and you may still need to complete the personality test to move forward.

    Good luck!

  12. Hannah*

    #3: Well wait, do those 3 questions about diversity really address the potential abstinence only issue and the homophobia issue? If I was asked those questions, my mind wouldn’t go to someone’s stance on birth control being an issue of diversity in the workplace, I don’t think I’d include anything like that in my answer. Would it not be OK just come out ask about their stance on these issues as it relates to the work they’d be doing?

    1. AnotherFed*

      That would be hard to do in a neutral/friendly way, though. It also might not matter – do you really care about the personal beliefs of the IT team, the graphic artists, or the receptionist as long as they are professional, polite, and perform their job duties well? If they are willing and able to do their job, and do it for your organization, that’s all you need. What does the position require?

        1. SiobhanRecruits*

          This person would be doing substantive project management work – not support, but directly involved with the projects. The candidate’s current organization is advocacy/politically related, but we’re not. We’re actually implementing public health projects.

    2. SiobhanRecruits*

      (LW#3 here)

      AAM was right to hone in on the diversity questions, I think. The subject matter is easier to address – “We do work in the following areas: [list controversial subjects among others]” and allow him to withdrawl if he has a problem with any of that. But I’m certainly not going to out his potential boss as gay to him and ask if he has a problem with that (as a microcosm of the larger values issue).

    3. Shami*

      Be careful about using the term ‘homophobia’.

      I have never encountered anyone with an irrational fear of homosexuals.

      John McKellar, homosexual activist who opposes the Gay Pride movement, calls the use of the word homophobia, “a contrived slander” against religiously conservative people.

      1. Anonymouse*

        @Shami – You might want to ‘be careful’ about who you choose to quote. In fact, I encourage everyone to do Google search of John McKellar to see what I mean. Yikes.

        1. Shami*

          It doesn’t matter who said it, the fact is that homophobia and homophobic are buzzwords designed and used by activists to portray the false impression that anyone who doesn’t agree with them has a ‘phobia’.

      2. Valeriane*

        I’ve encountered people with irrational fear of homosexuals: some of them were people in my own family who thought gay people were out to “recruit” youth and were therefore dangerous. This was in the 1970s and 1980s. I’m not sure what those who are still alive think now.

  13. MR*

    #5 Same thing happened to me, except I knew the hiring manager. The recruiter didn’t pass me along in the process, where I was guaranteed to get hired by the hiring manager since I knew her, worked with her previously and was recommended to the job by her.

    When I reached out to talk to the recruiter who rejected me, she copped me an attitude on the phone and said, “I didn’t pass the assessment test” which I know was a blatant lie, because it’s the same stupid one every other company uses question for question over and over. Her attitude also changed when I explained how I knew the hiring manager and worked with her previously. The recruiter then told me, “oh we are going to be doing this training class again in 6 months, so apply then”.

    Gotta love it. smh

    1. Xarcady*

      My application wasn’t passed along to the hiring manager–and the on-line application asked if you’d been referred to the company/job, and I put the hiring manager’s name, because she had told me I ought to apply. Found that out after the hiring manager questioned HR, asking if I’d never applied, because she at least wanted me to go through the interview process.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      Wait what? Did the hiring manager know HR did this? I assume he or she could override her?

      1. MR*

        By the time I reached out to the hiring manager it was too late, because the start of the training class was only a week away and that wouldn’t have been enough time to run background check, drug testing, finger printing, check references, do a phone interview, then in person interview, give notice, etc..

        The real reason which I believe I got rejected by the recruiter, was because my application was on pending for 3.5 weeks and I reached out via hr contact form on their website to find out what was going on with my application since it was still pending. (Looking at glass door it says it only takes them a week to get back to you) There was issues with my employee referral link not letting me take the assessment test initially for some reason so I had to use a work around where I had to apply for the same job for the same company in a different state so that I got the assessment sent to me again, but the results would carry over. So that was a headache as well. (Stupid Taleo)

        Within 45 minutes I got the rejection email saying they wouldn’t be going forward. That’s when I requested to speak to the recruiter who rejected me and she used the simple “didn’t pass the assessment test” and couldn’t give me the results.

        Asking around I was told I should have searched out this recruiter’s boss, since I knew the hiring manager. This company is a huge corporation so the hiring managers aren’t the recruiters bosses I guess.

        Looking at LinkedIn this recruiter has been at the company less than a year and I’m not in the mood to make a big fuss and potentially burn a bridge when I do reapply the next time this position / training class is posted, because what if I actually did fail the assessment test? (even though it’s highly unlikely since like I said it’s the generic test. Do you like art museums? Do you get along with people? type nonsense questions we all have seen 100s of times before) I wouldn’t even know how or where to file a complaint anyway.

        We will see what happens in a few months I guess. lol

  14. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    For OP#2 :

    Wait, what ?

    Coworkers want to change things around ? What the… o_O . The nerve, wow. I’d just say “This is not for us to decide. This is not how this works. We will wait until X comes back.”

    1. TootsNYC*

      Yeah. over and over again, that’s what i’d say. Along with, “What are you, nuts? You’re not the boss. The boss decides these things.”

      And maybe: “This isn’t a club, where the members get to decide how things run. And even in a club, it’s a really shitty thing to do–to change everything while one person is away so they don’t get to have any input. But this is our boss. The boss decides.”

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I agree totally. Or the OP could just say “I’m waiting for boss,” and sit back with popcorn and watch the fireworks when boss comes back and discovers what they did. (Assuming boss doesn’t just go, “Okay, cool,” which would totally suck!)

      Also, hi SandrineSmiles!!!! *hug*

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      This and make the CEO aware because he or she seems to be blissfully unaware of all the implications and only knows whatever yarn they’re spinning

  15. TL17*

    #4 No. Don’t do that. You’d be applying for and working in a job you don’t want. It could turn out that you like it and are good at it. It could also turn out that you’re resentful of the people doing the job you want, which could prevent you from working effectively in your position. I’ve seen it before where an overqualified candidate applies for a job, gets it, and then is miserable because the job is “beneath” her. then, when the position she did want came up, she wasn’t considered because of her terrible attitude. Lose-lose all around.

    1. Windchime*

      Yep. We had one of those last year and had a heck of a time getting rid of him. He finally quit and saved the boss from the trouble of firing him. I don’t think he lasted six months. He claimed that he wanted to be a software tester despite his years of much higher-level experience. Two weeks after we hired him, he was applying for transfers to management. I don’t think he ever did any testing, but he did spend his time writing a big pile of useless reports that nobody requested and nobody ever looks at.

  16. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I wonder if #1 is applying for a job at my organization! I had to take a personality test before I was hired, but that wasn’t the end of it– we all had to take them again recently and discuss the results. I don’t think they’re necessarily bs, but I disagree with how we’re discussing and using them.

    If you were to decline to take it, you would be out of the running at my company. Full stop. I don’t agree with that stance at all, mind you, but I’m not in charge. So it’s worth taking a good, hard look at the job and the culture to see if it makes sense for you to take this test. I wonder what the hiring manager would say if you asked her about it– “I’ve never taken a personality test before! I’m so curious about it. How do you use the results?” That might be worth a shot. But otherwise, I think you should use this test requirement as one of the pieces of information the company is giving you about itself.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The intention is to help us understand each other better. It’s not as nefarious as it sounds! Though yeah, it does teeter on Dr. Phil territory.

        1. Xarcady*

          We had to do this at one job–they were reworking everything and changing departments into “teams,” and as part of this we did the Myers-Brigg test.

          I was not surprised at all that I was an INTJ, but all my co-workers were. And argued with me that I didn’t take the test correctly.

          Nope, I’m just an introvert who has learned to fake being an extrovert at work. I go home and collapse after a busy day dealing with all those extroverts who insist on talking to me all day long.

          1. Temperance*

            I’m also an INTJ. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that you don’t talk to people and live in a cave or whatever, it means that you derive energy from being alone and recharge in quiet. Jeeze.

            1. Myrin*

              Or that you have no problem with and even enjoy being alone. Which absolutely doesn’t mean that it’s a huge hardship to deal with others or that you’re bad at it. You can enjoy one thing and still have no problem with the opposite.

          2. Temperance*

            I’m also excessively rational to the point where I can be really cold, so my husband found it absolutely hilarious that there were many serial killers (including the Unabomber) on the list of famous INTJs.

            1. Artemesia*

              OH great. I am an INTJ although my work required a certain amount of public speaking and interpersonal press — didn’t know I was in a class with Ted Bundy or the Unabomber (I knew the Unabomber’s roommate at Harvard who was also rather strange).

            2. Honeybee*

              Those lists are largely based on inferences people have made about famous people’s personality types, and not actual tests. Some of them have people on them who died before the MBTI even existed. One list I’ve checked out of famous ESTJs has 8 U.S. Presidents, 5 of which who died before 1944, as well as people like John D. Rockefeller and Carrie Nation.

          3. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I think the last time I took the Myers-Briggs (just for kicks), I was very close to 50/50 on two of the four attributes, so putting a lot of weight on those letters seems particularly silly to me.

              1. ThursdaysGeek*

                Ah, so now I know how to categorize myself too: A???, where A is for ambivert. I’m on the cusp on them all. I just consider myself well balanced.

          4. Murphy*

            We had to take tests once that determined our colour. Yup, you read that right. Our colour. I think we were a room of reds (or whatever the colour is that best shows absolute disdain for this entire ridiculous process). The consultant who was walking us through our results was a yellow (or whatever bubbly colour she was). We were so un-enthused and annoyed at having to be there that the poor consultant almost cried by the end of the meeting since we just wouldn’t play along with this deep, personal introspection bullshit (I felt bad for her, of course, but seriously?! Colours?!).

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Several of my coworkers went to this workshop, and they loved it. It’s been years and they’ll still say “Oh, I love that, because I’m a magenta!” or whatever.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I had a manager who made us take personality tests and discuss the results. It turned out the entire purpose was to “explain” to us why a certain staffer acted a certain way, and to let us know what she needed in order to be able to tolerate the rest of us. Why yes, she was the manager’s pet, now that you ask.

  17. KR*

    I have to say that I can’t think of any manager that would appreciate job duties being rearranged without their input. For all we know, the manager has plans to assign the receptionist more duties when she gets back from vacation. I agree with Alison here on pushing back. Good luck.

    1. JMegan*

      Or it’s possible that the receptionist already has a full workload, or that part of her duties include keeping her day-to-day workload light so she can be available for Urgent Project X when need be.

      I can’t even imagine a situation where this would go over well. And the fact that the employees are attempting this coup when the manager is on vacation suggests to me that they know it too – they’re asking for forgiveness rather than permission.

      Keep pushing back, OP, at least as far as your own job goes. If the inmates really are running the asylum, there may not be much you can do about your coworkers, but you can certainly refuse to participate. “I’m satisfied with my job as it is, thanks. If I feel the need to make any changes, I’ll discuss them directly with Manager.”

      Also, I would love an update when your manager hears about all this!

      1. TootsNYC*

        Or that the receptionist isn’t qualified. Or that those duties will take her away from her desk.

        I want an update too!

        1. Chinook*

          I said it before and bears repeating – the receptionist may also not be paid enough to do more than answer phones. When I negotiated my wage as a receptionist, I did so for a company of 80 people. I was not impressed to find out they merged with another company and I was suddenly managing line for 150 (though, to their credit, they made sure everyone knew my job was not the same as it was before th merger and they gave me a wag bump the following year). To colleagues pull a bait a switch is a good way to a)lose a great receptionist and b)make sure a lot of calls, packages, etc. Get “mistakenly” sent to the wrong person due to her new workload.

  18. Ann Furthermore*

    #1: I had to take a personality test for my first job out of college years ago. I didn’t consider refusing to take it; I needed a job, they were hiring, and that’s what they wanted me to do, so I did. They also required me to fill out part of the application in my own handwriting, presumably to do some sort of graphology analysis.

    FWIW, I didn’t think it was that bad. It was a bunch of yes/no questions, and some fill-in-the-blank questions as well. I answered honestly, figuring it would be a waste of time to try and fake it. Some were questions like, “Have you ever let yourself overhear a private conversation?” which I answered “yes” to because it’s true…pretty much everyone has if they’re honest with themselves. Others were more random, like “Do you sleep with more than one pillow at night?” and I never did figure out why anyone would care about that. After I got hired I was talking about it with another new hire and he said that for the fill-in-the-blank question, “I wish…..” he completed it with “….Elvis was still alive.” Hee. Mostly it was a pain because it took so long. But I didn’t find it intrusive or anything like that.

    1. Triangle Pose*

      Even though those questions are silly, the part I’m laughing at is the graphology analysis! I’m really hoping that resources in hiring were not spent on analyzing your traits based on handwriting. I’d hope that at best they were just assessing whether you had readable handwriting in the event the position required legible note-taking or some other such usable skill.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Who knows? It was more than 20 years ago, plus the company was a subsidiary of a French company. I wondered at the time if that was something common in Europe, because I’d never been asked to do take a personality test before.

        I don’t know if they actually did any handwriting analysis, it was just a guess on my part, because they were so specific about it having to be completed in your own handwriting and not to be typed. I was interviewing for a staff accountant position, so it wasn’t a job where legible handwriting really came into play. But what always made me laugh is that it reminded me of a scene from “Cheers” where all the guys at the bar are asking Frasier about handwriting analysis. He scoffs at it, and launches into a long lecture about how handwriting analysis is nothing more than pop psychology and a parlor trick on par with a Cosmo quiz. In the middle of this rant, he happens to look at Cliff Clavin’s handwriting sample, and then recoils in horror and gasps, “Mother of God!!!”

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I would love to take one of these and fill in all the blanks with weird stuff. I’d probably just do it, because I’d have written off the job long before I got to that.

  19. Charity*

    Make sure you let the receptionist know about the pause, especially if these coworkers are the kinds of people who would go ahead and just do what they want even after you speak with them. It would suck if the receptionist spent a week doing parts of your job without you knowing about it until they had already wasted a lot of their time.

  20. Nate*

    As for doing a job to get your foot in the door, it all depends. Personally, I can’t take doing something I hate for any period of time, regardless of whatever positive things might come of it, for more than a few months.

    Good luck!

  21. TotesMaGoats*

    #3 – Your concern is fit with the organization. The cause of the fit shouldn’t really matter. I would expect that a super fast-paced 90 hours a week, you are on call all the time and on your vacation which you don’t actually get to take company, would look askance at someone coming from a “notoriously laid back and flexible” company. Could someone hack it at super fast paced high intensity place coming from mellow-ville? Sure. Would you want to make sure of that before hiring? Sure. I would assume because of where someone worked that they believe in the ideals/mission of the company. I certainly wouldn’t disqualify someone from the interview process because of it. Like others have said, does it really matter if your IT person or graphic designer or receptionist believes A while you support B? Not if they are doing their job and meshing with their colleagues. A front line position that has to “sell” the mission of your organization might be more of a stretch but also not impossible.

    Why don’t you just do the due diligence on this candidate that I hope you would do on any candidate and evaluate them on the merits of their work experience, education, and interview?

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Really? How does what your webmaster believe have any impact on his or her ability to keep your website operational? If they aren’t doing their job then approach it from that angle. Now, should a call center person for (let’s say) Bernie Sanders actually believe in what he’s campaigning for? Sure. That makes sense but sometimes you just need a job to pay your bills and you can say or do whatever you are told to say or do.

        Perhaps this person was working at Organization A just for that reason. They needed a job to pay the bills and couldn’t care what Org A’s mission is provided they do their job. I would hate that someone would assume that because I work at a “notoriously liberal institution” that I am liberal by the sheer virtue of where I work. It’s just not a fair assumption to make.

        1. fposte*

          It can matter to morale and donor relations. It’s one thing if they’re for the cause, even if their background wouldn’t obviously suggest that, but it’s another to have somebody in, say, your pro-choice org who votes against it.

          (I confess I would also have serious reservations about the webmaster position in particular–putting somebody who disagreed with my org’s mission in charge of a key communication stream strikes me as a bad plan.)

        2. Mike C.*

          If I’m going to have electronic files dealing with things such as outreach lists, opposition research, internal polling, campaign strategy and what have you, I’m going to be damn sure that system is controlled and secured by someone I can personally trust to support me.

          For just about any other job I would be right there with you, but when the business is “get me elected”, there is a business need for personal/organizational loyalty.

          1. LQ*

            Yeah I’d worry about the IT person who seems to do their job fine and then one day is laid off but had access to say…patient records? And suddenly knows how to get into the system and release that data because they believe that those patients are vile. I don’t want to go to a place that would have someone like that. Not saying that couldn’t happen to anyone, it could. But that’s another piece that would make someone likely to do it. Anyone could go and ruin things at the end, but someone who fundamentally disagrees with the mission would be slightly more likely to do it.

            1. Observer*

              That’s just not true. In certain positions, you just DO NOT do things like that if you expect to find and keep jobs in your field.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It can also matter to the basics of how someone approaches their job — drive, creativity, initiative, and general oomph. In nonprofits and advocacy, you want someone who cares about what they’re doing and will look for ways to do it better because they’re invested in the work. It’s also a culture thing in nonprofits — part of working at many nonprofit organizations is being on board with the organization’s mission. It’s pretty normal to require a commitment to the organization’s goals.

        4. Honeybee*

          Of course it matters. What if the webmaster is tasked at putting up something they strongly disagree with? Sure, you can approach it from an angle of doing their job, but it’s hard to ignore that the reason they aren’t doing it correctly is precisely because of the cultural/belief mismatch.

          Fair or not, people are associated with the past companies that they’ve worked for. I don’t think anyone is off base for assuming Sally who worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year is liberal or Jenna who worked for Focus on the Family is conservative. A simple solution is just to address it in your cover letter if you’re applying to another company where it might matter. Then you’re not leaving anyone wondering. Barring that, being able to clearly and articulately discuss it in an interview will do wonders.

          But folks are acting like the OP is crazy for even being concerned about it, which is absurd especially given some things that have been in the news lately.

      2. AnotherFed*

        Sure, for someone responsible for public outreach, donor relations, and things like that. But if you refuse to even consider an IT person whose last job was for a conservative organization like a religious non-profit, that may not be illegal but it sure seems wrong and unfair. If they can do the work, have a good track record of performance, and are held to job expectations like every other employee, what’s the issue?

        If someone’s coming in to sabotage your company, they aren’t going to be open about the other work they have done or show any conflicting ideals on their resume. The primary people to worry about are the ones who feel entitled to promotions/recognition, are susceptible to bribery, and/or are susceptible to blackmail, and most of that you can screen out with a solid background check. This is security 101…

        1. Mike C.*

          I never said refuse to consider. People can change their minds and trust can certainly be earned even if you don’t match the typical supporter – Alison’s examples make a great deal of sense.

          But when we’re talking about advocacy organizations and political campaigns, a key part of the job is loyalty. There’s just not getting around that like there is in other types of businesses.

          And yes, I understand security is complicated, but I’m not claiming that this is the end all, be all of security policies. It just seems to me that hiring someone who used to work “on the other side” as your IT admin without a good reason goes against security 99.

          1. Observer*

            No, it really, really does not implicate security at all. If you are any good about security at all, and you have any integrity, it’s just not an issue. No IT person who has competence and integrity is going to leak or steal data.

            The thing I would worry about is that this person is just taking this job as a placeholder, so if I wanted a chance at longevity, I’d explore that issue.

            Of course, it’s not really relevant to this situation, as the OP has stated that this is not a support position but public facing and management of projects. That’s a whole different set of issues.

        2. SiobhanRecruits*

          This would be a project management role, not providing support. He would in many ways be a public face of our organization and be in charge of leading public health efforts like the one I mentioned in the letter.

          I completely agree with “Could someone hack it at super fast paced high intensity place coming from mellow-ville? Sure. Would you want to make sure of that before hiring? Sure. I would assume because of where someone worked that they believe in the ideals/mission of the company. I certainly wouldn’t disqualify someone from the interview process because of it. ”

          We are going to interview him, we’re just trying to, as you say “make sure of that [him being able to hack it] before hiring.”

          1. Temperance*

            I’m an ex-evangelical, and we were raised with the idea that we’re God’s Army and need to infiltrate the government and progressive organizations to effect change. Obviously I don’t know this dude’s background, but I would make sure that he’s comfortable advocating for women’s reproductive rights, with an emphasis on abortion, and that he’s comfortable working with the LGBT community.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              I’m current evangelical and it’s never even been suggested to me to infiltrate organizations and government to effect change. So don’t forget that labels don’t describe an unchanging monolith, and there is a lot of variety within each box you name.

          2. TotesMaGoats*

            I go away to a meeting and then the thread gets hopping! Stupid meetings. I’m glad you are going to interview him to see if he would be a good fit. I guess I fall into the give people a chance to explain why they would be a good fit instead of assuming that they wouldn’t (and taking them out of contention) based entirely on where they currently/used to work, went to school, live etc.

            1. neverjaunty*

              You’re lumping a lot of things together there. Past employment is absolutely relevant for a job applicant.

            2. fposte*

              I also don’t think people are arguing for an automatic disqualification based on the written record, so that’s a bit of a straw man.

              But we may be disagreeing about the importance of commitment to the mission; as I said, I think a webmaster, as you offered as an example, is somebody you absolutely want to have on board with the mission. I don’t think that means you can’t hire a Republican or a Catholic for your women’s health clinic, because that doesn’t tell you how they feel about the org mission; I do think it means you don’t hire them if they’re not on board with the mission.

        3. Theguvnah*

          I work in a Field that is threatened, attacked, harassed, infiltrated and people are even killed because extremists disagree with what we do.

          Are you actually saying that you think it would be wrong for me to automatically disqualify a job applicant – for any role- because they have a resume that includes past jobs that actively don’t align with my mission?

          I have people’s safety to worry about. Your idea of “fairness” be damned.

          1. Observer*

            The real problem is that your filter probably does little, if anything, to promote the safety of your staff or constituency. The fact that someone worked for an organization that does not align, or even was counter to yours says very little about the threat that person might pose. Now, if he LIED about it and withheld that information, I would worry.

            And, of course, you definitely want to do some more exploring – but this person might actually the best person for you, because he’s the one who actually understands the way your opposition works. It’s like hiring a hacker to be in charge of your computer defenses. This person knows the deal.

  22. Drea*

    #3 — I previously worked with a progressive minded non-profit that skewed quite liberal, but had a small cohort of employees on the opposite side of the political spectrum. If they showed a history of working with organizations with values that ran counter to ours, they had to provide a strong answer for why they wanted to change their focus so profoundly.

    We also had a well-enforced policy that clearly laid out what was and wasn’t acceptable in our workplace. Most of it was deeply common sense — you can’t leave religious tracts on the break room table, you can’t tell gay coworkers you will pray for their salvation (both these happened at one point or another). Not only did this not leave a ton of wiggle room for anyone who might have had designs about ~dismantling from the inside~ but it was also an assurance to current employees that the nonprofit had their backs as well.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      I’m a bit puzzled as to why you’d hire people whose beliefs were opposed to your organization’s mission in the first place – didn’t you have plenty of applicants with compatible goals?

      1. Drea*

        We didn’t consciously hire people with opposing beliefs, but we did occasionally find people who thought their beliefs were more aligned with ours than they turned out to be, if that makes sense? We also had employees who started out gung-ho and then had something happen that changed them. It was more we had a policy of not automatically discounting based on past workplaces since, like Allison mentioned, some really good people came from unexpected places.

      2. fposte*

        She didn’t say they were opposed to the mission, though; in fact, she vetted them for change if there were past indications that they had been.

        I also think, as Alison notes, there’s a difference between being opposed to the mission and skewing outside an org’s norm politically and culturally.

  23. I'm a Little Teapot*

    Personality tests, besides being intrusive, obnoxious, and likely not very useful, might raise some ADA concerns. I’ve had a lot of trouble with anxiety and depression, among other things, and answering truthfully on a personality test would likely reveal this. (I lie, and did once manage to get a job with a screening process that included one. As I’ve remarked on other posts, people who ask intrusive, irrelevant questions have no right to honest answers.) In fact, I wonder if that’s part of what they’re screening for. Anyone who knows more about ADA and employment law than I do want to weigh in?

  24. Personality Tests*

    #1, be aware that the employer likely has an agreement that your information becomes the test company’s property. This is true with Wonderlic, for example. This means not only that you may never discover the results, but that the test company may do whatever it likes with the information.

    As Mike C. notes above, standardized personality tests are junk science and easy to game. The “right” answers depend on the role you’re applying for. One for an associate role at a big box retailer will screen out critical thinkers who are likely to question orders and make decisions on their own. A test for a senior management role in industry, on the other hand, might screen out those who indicate a preference for predictable, routine work. The test will ask such questions several different ways, so that the right answer may be “agree” or “disagree” depending on the phrasing, in order to trip you up. Any reasonably intelligent candidate can see right through that.

    Of course, never answer “agree” to questions like, “I get jealous when someone else gets what I want,” “At times I can be very unkind to others,” “I have less energy than most people,” and “Sometimes I think of things which are simply too bad to talk about.”

    Personality tests as a hiring tool is a fad that rolls around every few decades. We appear to be at the crest of the latest round.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Of course, never answer “agree” to questions like, “I get jealous when someone else gets what I want,” “At times I can be very unkind to others,” “I have less energy than most people,” and “Sometimes I think of things which are simply too bad to talk about.”

      Or, for the test I took the summer I worked at a Giant Unnamed Retailer, “I have stolen from my employer.” :-|

    2. OP#1*

      A major reason that I passed – I couldn’t be sure that my information would remain confidential. They called me in for the next interview anyway. I’ll find out shortly!

  25. Lily in NYC*

    #4 – please understand how frustrating it is to hire for an admin role and get stuck with someone who really just wants to be promoted. We had an overqualified EA who wanted to be a project manager but was told when she was hired that it was not a promotion track job and that we rarely promote admins to PM roles. She promised she wasn’t just trying to get her foot in the door, but after two months, she was trying to dump her admin duties onto me so she could help the PMs with their work (hoping it would get her noticed and promoted). Our boss got annoyed and put his foot down and she ended up leaving after 10 months once she realized she wasn’t going to move up. This used to happen all the time and it’s a waste of time and resources. Do you know how much time and work it takes to bring on a new employee? We want people to do the job they are hired for, not people who think they are just going to pay their dues for 6 months and then move up to the job they really want.
    Now we ONLY hire career admins and we usually make them temp-to-perm for this very reason.
    However, there are some places where it’s expected – like marketing and editorial assistant jobs.

  26. Pwyll*

    #2 – This is one of those things that drives me up a wall regarding people’s attitudes about admin staff. “Let’s reassign work to the Receptionist because she doesn’t seem busy enough” really rankles me. (And it always seems the perception of “not doing enough” is when the receptionist is a woman, for some reason.) Unless the receptionist is literally reading a fiction novel at the front desk, I’m sure they’re doing the job they’ve been assigned. Some companies do literally want someone whose only responsibility is the phones and the reception area! Or to assign a specific set of duties to allow the position to be a better fit for a parent or other person who needs a compressed schedule. And I can almost guarantee that this receptionist is not nearly as “not busy” as people think she is. The nerve of people seeking to reassign work of admin staff outside their line of control makes me fume.

    That said, I agree with the advice above. This one is really for the manager to deal with, and I would absolutely go to her once she returns to express discomfort with reassigning your work to the receptionist.

    1. Drea*

      There’s also the problem where the work that admins do is seen as unimportant. I’m currently working a temp receptionist job where part of it is blowing up balloons for every employee having a birthday and it seems like every damn time I do it, someone breezes past joking about me wasting time and how nice it must be to not be busy. I get that these balloons aren’t critical to the company, but blowing the fuckers up is still part of my job. If someone who wasn’t my manager decided to unilaterally assign me additional tasks without consulting my supervisor, I would be beyond pissed.

    2. LQ*

      I think the point of having someone whose only responsibility is the phone and reception area is important. Assuming the tasks other people would want to reassign have some kind of deadline at all, then this could be concerning. A busy day or couple of days of phone calls and those tasks fall behind because the priority would not be those extra tasks.

    3. Xarcady*

      Add to this that not all work can be done easily by someone who is constantly interrupted by the phone or people coming in and out, and co-workers asking questions.

      One of my jobs included supervising student workers at a university library circulation desk. The work study students were allowed to read quietly at the desk if they weren’t busy–all books checked back in, books in call number order on the book trucks, all full book trucks had to be taken to the correct floor in the library and left for reshelving, new applications for library cards alphabetized.

      Other staffers saw only “students not working,” even though we needed to have someone at the desk at all times to check out books, so that patrons didn’t have to wait. So the library director decided the desk students would take on other tasks from other departments. The kids were trained by the other departments.

      And some of the tasks they were given–they made a mess of. They were constantly having to shove the work aside to take books and check them out. The supplies got all messed up and out of order. They lost their train of thought. They lost their place in the job. Pieces of paper went missing because they got stuck to a book a patron was checking out. A student would be given a task, but couldn’t complete it in their shift because of having to do their assigned work for our department first. Deadlines weren’t being met.

      After multiple complaints and retrainings, we were able to shed most of the extra work. We were left with sticking bar code stickers on book pockets and alphabetizing a few things. I never was able to convince the book pocket people that they needed to give us a few days to work on 1,000 book pockets. They “knew” that it took so many hours to do, and didn’t understand why it would take us twice that long. Um, because we have books to check out/back in/get upstairs?

      The extra work someone in a position like a receptionist can take on is limited by their available time, which can vary from day to day, the ease with which it can be constantly interrupted, and the flexibility of the deadlines.

      Oldjob gave the receptionist some bookkeeping duties, and the owner couldn’t understand why the poor woman struggled with meeting her deadlines. She could do the work, no problem. But she had to answer and redirect every single phone call coming into the company (35 employees and over 100 freelancers), greet every person stepping through the front door, deal with paper and toner for the copiers and printers, Fedexing about 40-50 shipments a day, etc., etc., etc. Bookkeeping, which had firm deadlines and required some quiet, uninterrupted time, was not a good fit with her other job duties. They ended up giving her 5 hours a week off the reception desk to do the work, during which time, the phone often went unanswered and we would find visitors wandering the halls. It was not a good idea, but the owner wouldn’t admit that.

      1. Dasha*

        Yes, this! Early on in my career I had to cover for the receptionist when she was out at Really Old Job because it was a super small company. It was so hard to get any work done but luckily my boss was understanding enough that she would cover for me while I covered for the receptionist.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This is exactly why I can’t do anything for the hour I cover the front desk every week. All I do for that hour is watch the front, answer the phone, and read AAM or Buzzfeed. My work requires some concentration or at least attention to detail, even if I’m doing something I’ve done six hundred times before.

        The bookkeeping thing annoys me too. When I was job hunting, of course I couldn’t take those receptionist/bookkeeper jobs because I can’t do accounting. I understood the reasoning–by making one person do two jobs, you only have to pay one person. But why in hell would you want someone doing your ACCOUNTS who is going to be interrupted a zillion times a day?!

    4. Winter is Coming*

      We had receptionist who was also responsible for expediting orders, which involved being on the phone. Which meant people would complain that she wasn’t answering the phones fast enough. I did not understand this.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Actually, I’m wondering if the receptionist in #2 is much like the OP in #4. She -wants- to do work that’s more interesting to her.

      She may be in on the whole thing, or at least willing to benefit from all the machinations of the other colleagues.

      Are they all chummy? I bet they are, and the receptionist has been saying she wishes she could do something more “important,” and so her friends have decided to intervene, since the manager is away, and the CEO has given them a feeling that they’re important.

      (I do worry that the manager who’s away has also not been very authoritative.)

  27. Jubilance*

    #5 This has happened to me, I think it’s more common with big companies. I was told to apply to a position by my mentor, who was the CIO of the business, and yet I still couldn’t get past the recruiters screening. At a lot of big companies, hiring managers don’t see most of the applications, and sometimes you can screened out by bad recruiters.

    1. BioPharma*

      Yup, same thing happened to me as well. I got confused/upset, but a few days later, HR contacted me saying there was an issue with the system and I accidentally received that email (yeah right). Ended up scheduling phone screen, phone interview, then on-site interview (although didn’t end up getting posn)! Point being: OP #5, no worries… HR is able to move forward if the hiring manager wants them to.

  28. Mena*

    4. Taking anything to get in the door could really backfire on you. We had this situation and the person, once in place for 7 months, then found another job in the organization, leaving the first hiring manager stuck, annoyed, and still resentful of the person.

  29. Roscoe*

    #1 Seems a bit odd. I don’t think most people “like” personality tests, but I don’t see why its so big a deal that you would consider blowing the job because of it. I don’t “like” filling out Taleo software applications either, but I know that for many jobs its something they decided they want to do, and if I want the job its something I’d have to deal with. If I was the hiring manager, your refusal would raise A LOT of questions, none of them good. I’d probably just say thanks but no thanks.

    #3 I think it depends on a lot. What was his job at the last place? What will he be doing at your office. If he is in a public facing role, I think these are things you definitely need to consider. If he is doing something like IT or accounting where it is really just about his ability to do the job and not have to be a public advocate, it matters less. I know teachers at Catholic schools that are far from devout Catholics. But I’d just be very up front about your expectations and office culture. If he is uncomfortable, he probably will select out.

    1. SiobhanRecruits*


      Both roles (current and the one he’s applying for with us) are public-facing and require “talking up” the org’s mission. Thanks for your feedback!

    2. Charity*

      I think it’s fine to walk away from a job that has a personality test, but I agree that it’s very, very unlikely that any hiring manager at a company that has a mandatory pre-employment personality test would be OK if an applicant just refused to do it. Those tests can be pretty expensive to license and administer so presumably any company that bothers with them must think that they are worthwhile.

      However, some of them can run into hundreds of questions and take ages to sort through, so if I wasn’t really enthusiastic about a job (or just plain desperate) I’d probably politely withdraw if the personality test was like that.

    3. OP#1*

      I’m also one of those people that skips overly cumbersome job applications. I think that if they make this process impossible, what’s it like internally? Respect must go two ways. I show up on time and work hard, shouldn’t they consider my time important as well? Apparently my refusal was ok, I moved forward in the process. I think if more people refused them, companies would realize that they are crap. Yes, we all need paychecks, but they can’t operate without us either. It should be a mutually beneficial partnership.

  30. Not So NewReader*

    For OP3. I had to write a final paper for my degree. I wrote on a subject that I enthusiastically supported. Well, it was months of writing. As I went along I realized that I was too pragmatic to firmly support the ideals of this type of thinking. Now I have a problem. My paper is due, it’s too late to change topics, I must follow through even though my position has changed. Ugh.

    I finished the paper but I changed my overarching message. I said while the ideals were solid, there were major, serious problems with applying those ideals. I discussed those problems and concluded that a more practical stance was necessary.

    My point here is that sometimes people start out firmly supporting X. Once in the thick of X, they start to realize that there are actual problems with supporting X and other solutions are indeed necessary.

    Find out her “Why”. Why the change from one organization that supports X to another organization that does not support X. People can be very persuasive by the uniqueness of what they think of to say. You are searching for the thinking behind her change. Not that her answer should be your single criteria for hiring her, no. But it should clue you as to whether or not to keep moving forward with this person.

  31. Dasha*

    #4 nooooo don’t do it. If it was a bigger organization then maybe but I’ve worked at a lot of small companies in my career (although they weren’t non-profit) and most of the time when you are hired at one you are hired for that specific job and there’s usually not many options for growth or career movement. This often due to the fact that they don’t have the budget or resources for these sorts of things. For instance, I work for a small company now and we don’t even have enough people to cover for someone if they’re out. You either don’t take vacation or it piles up until you get back. I don’t see this being good for your career and I agree with Alison’s advice.

    1. Dasha*

      Also, I wonder if the other readers can weigh in on #4 but does anyone else feel like this old school career advice from your parents? Just get your foot in the door?

      I want to add that I also kind of did this early on in my career (maybe not so much to get my foot in the door but kind of to get a job years ago when the job market made you cry but it was kind of a combination of both) I ended up leaving after a year. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have taken that job and instead I would have found something more related to my degree but again, it was kind of a combination of I need a job and I wanted to get my foot in the door into a certain industry. If you have a choice I would advise against this sort of thing.

      1. Allison*

        Been there. I think a lot of recent grads are told to get any job they can get, because even something completely irrelevant to their degree is better than nothing at all. So I can see the logic of telling someone to take whatever they can get at a company that interests them just to prove themselves, and eventually try to move to the job they really want. But no hiring manager is interested in candidates with that mentality. They want people who want to move up eventually, but they want someone who’s interested in the job they’re actually applying to and plan to stay in that role for a while before being promoted within the department. Essentially, no one wants a candidate who only sees a job as a stepping stone to what they really want, because that person will get bored and restless very quickly.

      2. Bowserkitty*

        My mom pulled this a lot. “Work in their call center just to get your foot in the door!”

        I’m not cut out for call centers. No thanks.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think, though, that you absolutely can apply for a job that they don’t have any openings for. It’s essentially “cold calling”: “Hi, I have these skills, I’ve love to work for your organization, please keep me in mind if something suitable opens up.”

      I get those all the time. I’m perfectly happy to do so. If I kind of like the resumé, and especially if I anticipate any turnover coming up, I keep it. Or forward it to HR.

      It certainly has never hurt anyone. It might not yield results–after all, there’s not a job opening. But it’s worth a shot!

    3. Anon for this*

      I completely concur. I work for a very small nonprofit (less than 50 employees), and the only time someone can transfer to a new role is if someone leaves the organization. Given that it’s a small organization those opportunities are few and far between. I think small organization’s can be great, and at least in my organization you have a ton of opportunities to do things you don’t get to do at a larger organization, but there are a lot of drawbacks. And lateral moves and advancement are two of those drawbacks.

  32. Tsalmoth*

    #2, as a manager, if I came back from vacation to find that my folks had reassigned responsibilities like that, I’d be livid, at both them and (if he actually directly encouraged it) my CEO. It’s one thing for someone to step in or up to help with something, but they should not be changing people’s job responsibilities.

  33. yikes*

    #1: i am completely with you. I applied for a great job once and was impressed at the speed of the application system. Then, after applying, I immediately got an email saying for my application tto go through, i needed to fill out a personality questionnaire. It was FORTY FIVE MINUTES, and incredibly irrelevant and insulting. And then i was auto rejected. No one ever even glanced at my resume or qualifications. After that, i wrote down the employer in my spreadsheet as “never apply again”.

    #2: does the receptionist feel she doesnt have enough to do? is she in a position where someone backs her up if she says no? the manager isnt around: the people who are doing this know it would never fly if the manager was there. keep pushing back. this is horrible thing to do.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I think the receptionist is part of the plot; I think she’s been lamenting to her chums at work about how she wishes she were doing something more interesting. Perhaps the new hire who’s angling for a higher role has inspired her, or maybe even thought of it on her behalf.

      But I wouldn’t assume that the receptionist needs to be warned; my assumption would be that she’s part of it all.

    2. JMegan*

      It’s hard to tell from the letter if the receptionist is in on the plan or not. But either way, the fact that people are trying to rearrange job duties while the manager is on vacation is SO sketchy. It’s just so very much Not How Things Are Done – like, in any workplace, anywhere – that it’s impossible to believe that it’s not a deliberate plot to pull something over on the manager.

      OP, I would stay as far away from this crowd as you can, even to the point of getting another job if possible. This is not a normal way for people to behave in the workplace, and the fact that it’s even being attempted speaks volumes about the type of workplace it is.

  34. Temperance*

    Re: #2 – it’s such a jerk move to try and outsource all the unpleasant tasks of a job to raise your own profile, but so much worse when the target is the lowest person on the totem pole. Even if the receptionist seems bored at points, her entire job is greeting guests and answering phones, so she needs to be available to handle those tasks. Also, if she wanted to handle other people’s unwanted tasks, she’d ask for them. Your coworkers suck.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I see a connection between this and the discussion a few days ago about people who pile tons of work on the receptionist but also won’t cover reception duties while the receptionist’s busy. She can either be available all day for reception duty or she can do everybody’s random other duties, but there are laws of physics that might prevent her from doing both (especially depending on whether those duties take her away from her desk).

    2. Xarcady*

      And the company *needs* someone to answer the phones and greet visitors. Or they would not have a receptionist.

      There is a definite sense in the OP of everyone shoving their most disliked tasks on to the receptionist, and that bothers me, more than the “rearranging job duties behind the manager’s back,” although that doesn’t sit too well with me, either. While in some companies I know, receptionists are very low in rank, a good receptionist can really help a company’s image, and a poor one can do a lot of damage–missed calls, misdirected calls, visitors waiting unnecessarily long, you name it.

      The company where I’m temping now has such a great receptionist that clients write letters about her to the CEO, complimenting her on how she handles their special requests (we have clients from out-of-state who come for a week or two at a time to work on special projects and the receptionist helps them out with some things). That cannot hurt the company, and certainly helps in many cases.

      She is always polite, always cheerful, remembers people’s names even when she only sees them a few weeks a year, has mastered the incredibly confusing card-swipe system the permanent employees have to use, and never loses her cool. She is the face of the company to the general public. When she goes on vacation for a few days, it’s noticeable.

      Add in the fact that two of the people trying to off-load their tasks aren’t even in the same department! Do their bosses know what is going on?

      1. Temperance*

        EXACTLY. Reception is a hard freaking job – one that I certainly don’t want, but I hate the attitude that it takes no skills and that the person just sits there twiddling her thumbs all day. Our receptionists deal with arranging meetings, taking weird and difficult phone calls, and greeting grumpy people ALL. DAY. LONG.

    3. Charity*

      That’s why I really hope that the OP loops in the receptionist after she talks to the coworkers about their plan. My concern is that the coworkers might just decide to go ahead with their plan and tell the receptionist that she’s now in charge of Task A, B, and C before the boss gets back. The receptionist might not feel able to push back on that especially if it seems like a directive from the CEO or something like that.

      1. Temperance*

        You’re absolutely right – it does seem like these employees are trying to be incredibly sneaky about how they’re handling this, probably because they know that Manager will not approve. Not okay.

  35. Just A Lurker*

    In response to #3. OP does the applicant’s background prove that they can do the job and do it well? I don’t think it matters if they are not what you are looking for.

    I also believe that having conservative beliefs does not mean that you wish ill will on everyone that is different from you. Are you judging the large overbearing organization or the person? I personally do not like how my faith group interacts with different groups all of the time, but I try to change that in my personal life. I think providing non-traditional healthcare options is something that needs to be more available in this country. So maybe they believe in living a different lifestyle, but they understand the importance of your mission.

    In general I agree with the suggestions given by Alison. Good Luck!

  36. WorkingFromCafeInCA*

    #5 Definitely at least tell your friend soon! I recommended that an acquaintance apply for a position as my replacement and she told me when she sent her application in. My boss followed up with HR, and they said they didn’t have it! Turns out it was a problem with the online software, and I was able to ask friend to re-submit. If she hadn’t said anything to me, she would have just assumed she didn’t make it through.

    She got the job and has been there for 3 years now :)

  37. it will happen*

    Am I the only one that wondered if #3 were reversed if the answer might be different? If it were a very religious entity and someone who was very liberal were to apply would / should they also be screened out too?

    1. neverjaunty*

      Why would the answer be any different? The reasoning is still the same – if somebody whose employment puts them very much at odds with your nonprofit’s goals and ethos applies for a job, it’s perfectly understandable that you’d be skeptical unless there was some reason (say, in the cover letter) explaining why they are jumping the fence. I get the sense that maybe you were looking for a ‘gotcha’ here; did you really think that anyone was going to say “Why yes, your evangelical charity dedicated to handing out free Bibles to children has a moral obligation to hire somebody straight from the League of Extraordinarily Smug Atheists”?

      1. Treena*

        Agreed. I think it will happen might be conflating other instances where left-leaning folks call out, say, the firing of Catholic school teachers for having a child out of wedlock. But that’s because this doesn’t have a bearing on whether or not they can do their jobs (and the fact that they’re already hired).

    2. Julie Noted*

      Liberal and religious are not antonyms. Nor are left and religious.

      Progressive Christian socialists

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