Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Well alrighty, according to this Weblog Author Survey, I am a Totally Normal Person. The survey is an appendix to an essay called "Why I Fucking Hate Weblogs!". It's hilarious.

While I was taking this little survey I wavered between choosing the answer that best represents me and the answer that seemed most "normal." Fortunately the two seemed to coincide much of the time, but it reminded me of the pre-employment “personality” and “morality” tests that so many companies give to try and figure out how likely you are to steal them blind, blow away a co-worker or be found one day OD’d on the restroom floor. I see these tests more as IQ tests, in that they really test whether you are smart enough to figure out which answers will pretty much rule you out as a candidate.

I mean, it’s fairly common sense to understand that a potential employer doesn’t want you stealing from them, isn't it? When presented with a question like “Taking office supplies from my employer isn’t really stealing,” you should definitely select “highly disagree” or the equivalent, even if your actual answer is “Well, what kind of pens do they stock? Are they Uniballs? Black Uniballs? Because everyone always steals those from me, so when I see extras lying around they're all mine.” But whatever you do, don’t agree with a statement like "I have never been untruthful, even to save someone’s feelings,” because that kind of question is often used to figure out if you’re faking at being honest, and they know you're lying if you say you've never told a lie.

But there are often more subtle questions that trip people up. For example, “If your co-worker stole money, would you tell a superior?” Now a reasonable response would probably be “No way, I’m no snitch!” But the company--let’s just call it "Wal-Mart"--doesn’t wan’t people who are actually decent and principled to their co-workers, they want people who are so desperate they will rat on their mothers for less than a living wage. So the correct answer to the question is “Yes, and how!” (Don’t worry, you can still actually be a principled human being after you secure that wretched job.)

But then there are questions like “Would you lie to protect your boss?” Maybe you think of some particularly odious boss from your past and figure you would spill all if there were a chance of his having to become someone’s bitch in some prison somewhere. And naturally you assume that this is the opposite of what the company wants to hear, because you’re supposed to side with the boss, right? Not necessarily--if you’re applying at the kind of company that resorts to expensive pseudoscientific tests like this to weed out undesirables, chances are the boss is just another replaceable part in the machine. If the boss is stealing, the company will want you to turn fink on him. But, if the boss is forcing you to clock out and then work a few hours of unpaid overtime, or locking you in the store during overnight stocking, then the company would prefer you to just shut your filthy hole, you scum.

So maybe failing one of these tests wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen ...

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