Monday, November 3, 2008

Strange new big box world

In an attempt to make some extra money, I recently applied to some big-name retail outlets.
And I'm here to tell you that if you have an education, an IQ over 100 or have ever questioned anything in your life, don't bother.
Apparently all hiring is now based on on-line psychological tests that measure how much of an automoton you are. The less a thinker, the better. The tests ask about 100 questions and have you "strongly agree, agree, don't know, disagree and strongly disagree." The questions are everything from "it's wrong to steal," (come on folks, let's all strongly agree), to "when guilty people go free it maddens me" (oops, I'm just not sure if it's that word 'maddens' or what, but I don't strongly agree). And the questions run the gamut in between.
A coworker who used to be a manager at a Borders' bookstore told me that they are looking for "strongly" no matter what you answer. They don't want people who see areas of gray, who see nuances. They want people who only see in black and white and don't question the corporaton.
No thinking outside of the big box.
He said that they instituted the tests after he was already hired -- they made all the managers at his store take the test and they all failed.
Several of my siblings have also applied for jobs taking these tests. We've all failed.
My sister who did kitchen design for years for a competing store failed one for another store -- no hire despite her experience.
My brother who teaches high school Latin and Greek took one for Borders, failed. No job, despite the fact my mom has worked there for years.
And I, who promise you, Borders, and the other stores I applied to, that I won't steal, I'll show up on time, I'll be helpful and knowledgable to customers. Hell, I was an English major and am a huge reader. You sure you don't want me Borders?
The last time I applied for a retail job -- granted it was 30 years ago -- you walked in, asked for the manager, he or she gave you and application. You met and looked eachother over. You filled out the application. Talked again. They decided whether you were the kind of person they wanted working there. You were hired -- or not.
Now, it's all based on a computer test designed purely to week out anyone who can think for themselves.
And I'd like to add, I was recently in one of the stores I took the test for -- not Borders -- and the employees were acting like total idiots. Goofing around in the aisles, yelling insults across the store to eachother. But they must have passed the test.
The more we evolve, the worse we get.


Matt McSorley said...

So, you're saying this is what I have to look forward to? My limited sampling is telling me that the workplace doesn't appreciate our skills. That's more than a bit worrisome.

Carol Robidoux said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol Robidoux said...

ou might consider spending one day posing as a Border's employee, messing up the carefully alphabetized shelves and steering customers in the wrong direction. It won't change anything, or make things right, but somehow, it will feel like justice.