Are we going to approve of you?
You have plans, you have dreams, you have a coffee addiction. You need a job. You apply for any number of appropriate jobs to secure your goals, passions and solvency. Then against all odds an interview comes along. Someone is actually considering you for a position, you may be in with a shot of financing your coffee habit . Only, there is a request…
Can you fill in this personality quiz for us?
You’ve been waiting for an interview with bated breath for weeks, maybe months, then the tantalising opportunity presents itself with a condition. A condition that maybe countless other applicants from Corporate America wouldn’t have thought twice about. We’d like to quiz you about what you’re like. We want to profile the essence of your personality… For a job.
We will be asking you about your character traits and strengths and weaknesses. Is it ok?
This doesn’t seem like the craziest ask. We’ll have to work with you, we’ll have to rely on you, we’ll have to communicate with you. However, think about it a little longer and it becomes a little creepy. This isn’t a quiz related to your aptitude to do the job, or a check into your safety to work with specific groups. This is about who you are. It sounds worryingly like, are you one of us? Are you going to fit in?
You are asking a lot of information for a simple job interview. In this country GDPR protects you from releasing this information and holding it for a long time. However, this is a very probing ask from a prospective employer, so it does chill me slightly.
Personality quizzes are nothing new now, they have been knocking around in the realm of Psychology for as long as I have been alive. However, for those of you that haven’t encountered them before, they are a set of questions designed to get to the core of your personality. To profile whether you are introverted or extroverted, cautious or risk-taking, among other personality aspects.
They vary in specific questions and aim, but broadly they are the same — they are concerned with profiling. Profiling and exploring someone’s personality, isn’t that what your hour-long interview is for? How much information does your employer really need?
Are you one of us?
Still sounds a little innocuous… Only consider, you are a black, queer, working-class youth living in Texas and all the people in good jobs are straight rich Texans. Is there an undercurrent to these questions? Are they trying to weed you out? Is the way that this quiz is currently formatted keeping you out of the job market that is not considered for you.
Now race, sexuality and class have nothing to do with your personality, because ultimately that concept is constructed. However, has your place in society made you navigate the world in a certain way that sits outside the rich Texan norm perhaps. Is that possible?
Racism, homophobia and prejudice are very real, so are classist attitudes. Why do we need this test? What is it for? Is it really as innocent as it first appears in a world of haves and have nots and in-crowds and rejects?
The ‘right’ person
Not being good enough to do a job is fair. Not being cool enough, white enough, rich enough or one of us enough is deeply unfair. How can we be sure these tests are not designed for the wrong reasons? And even if they are designed for the so-called right ones: how can we be sure that we are not self-affirming who is right for any given role?
Once a working-class person would be unheard of in Parliament: if it was dictated to by a personality test with a pre-prescribed idea of what kind of person fits into Parliament, would we have progressed to this stage? Or is the type of person that makes it as a politician a result of their hard-wired personality regardless of class, gender or race? Indeed, if this is in fact the case, is this a problem?
So, do you approve of me?