Beyond the Resume.


This one is going to be a little odd, so bear with me for a bit.

I recently had to take a personality test for a job application. I’m pretty sure I came back as “psycho”, and here’s why:  I felt I had to lie one way or the other, and I was unclear on which way I should lie.  I realize that this is a ridiculous stand on a personality test, but that’s the way it is.  I’ve never gotten a job where I took a personality test.  In fact, I was told… blatantly told…by one place that I had “too strong of a personality” for their work environment and I wouldn’t just do what I was told, I’d look for “alternative ways to accomplish the work” and that was unacceptable.  Huh.  Really?

I’ve had a lot of friends who agree with my dislike of the personality test procedure.  We have a lot of the same problems, though.  We all tend to question everything.  We don’t just do things because “that’s the way it’s always been done”.  We likely had some alternative hair color at one point.

So, last night I went to the big Kevin Smith event with my best friend, and I promise this is related.  He’s talking about how he saw things that weren’t being done and he wanted to do them,  how there are enough “Why?” people in the world and you should be a “Why not?” person.  He looks back on how he got out of high school, watched all his friends going on to do all these normal things, but it just didn’t feel right for him. I realize that bestie is pointedly looking over at me when something like this is going on, and then I actually muttered, “Preach it, bro.” about something he said.

On the way home, I’m doing my thing where I sing really loudly and process information that I’ve taken in during the day, and I kind of meld things together. (I realize this is a long, drawn out sort of post, but I’m about to get to the crux of it.)  Here’s why personality tests and resumes are bad for me:

-I am the sort of person to take risks.  Nothing great was ever done by staying in your safety zone.  I do believe that there’s a fine line between taking a risk and being a moron, so there’s that too.

-I’m not even sure where “The Box” is anymore.  I saw it once, but I think that was in first grade.

-I question authority. I do this for the good of mankind, honestly.  I know that sounds all lofty and pretentious, but think about it. Questioning authority is a selfish thing.  Is what you’re saying good for the company and in turn, good for me keeping my job?  Is it good for the world, and in turn, good for me to keep on living?  (I worked for a place who didn’t want  you to audit accounts while you were looking at them, just deal with one problem at a time.  So if you saw a bunch of problems, and wanted them corrected, you were asked if the client had called on them.  If not, let it go.  That, to me, was bad practice all the way around.  It made me look bad, it made the company look bad, and I questioned it often, much to the chagrin of my bosses.)

-I’m honest to goodness creative. No. I mean I went to school for music and my minor was art. If I don’t like something, I’ll paint it. If I want something and can’t afford to buy it, I’ll figure out how to make it.

-I believe that sometimes boundaries are just there for you to break through them.  I was also raised by a woman who believed that walls were for moving, and I mean that in the most literal sense.

I thought about this post for a while before I wrote it, because I’ve actually been wanting to get this out for a while.  I considered the repercussions and I thought about the risks of making a post like this, because generally speaking, people don’t get hired for being like this.  That’s why I’ve always tried to interview as blandly as possible, and that’s why people are always shocked when they get to know me afterward.  I know I’ve always been considered “odd”, but I’m ok with that. I am odd. I’m also detail-oriented, organized in a work environment, and I’ve been known to be efficient.  It’s all in how you do the job.


3 responses »

  1. Right out of college, I got a job at Provident (before it was Unum). I was fired for “not fitting into the corporate culture.” That should have been a clue. Years later, I tried to get a job at BlueCross, and have often told people the same thing you said in this post – the personality test must have said “pyscho.” I also flunked the Pizza Hut personality test (I know because the manager told me I shouldn’t have “lied” on it and I totally hadn’t) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called “too critical.”

    Eventually, it dawned on me, that I am a pretty crappy employee. I’m a fabulous collaborator, and excellent worker when given the necessary creative freedom and control over my own time. Deciding to start my own tiny business, where I get to decide pretty much everything, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There are ways for us questioning, critical, creative folks to get by without working at companies that require us to take personality tests.

  2. I’ve never dyed my hair. I once refused to dye my hair because everyone else was doing it. Someone brought a thing of manic panic to my birthday party and it turned into pin the tail on the donkey for teenagers. I called them Purple Conformists.

    I dropped out of school because it wasn’t working for me, the situation I was in was outside my control and being driven by goals that did not have my best interests at heart.

    I turned down a job at Radio Shack back then because they wanted to hire me, only they wanted a version of me with short hair. I met or exceeded every other requirement they had for the role, but they wanted “above the collar”. I am not above the collar.

    I am frustrated with personality tests. I’ve never had to take them for a job, but I’ve had more than my share of psychological evaluations over the years. The problem is that they are designed for stupid people, and I can’t fake stupid.

    And I have regrets. I have not always taken the risks. I’ve caved to pressure. I’ve given up on things I wish I hadn’t. Even as far back as kindergarten, when I let them force me to be more right-handed. What a bunch of jerks. Kinda want to punch them in the face. With whatever fist appeals to me at the moment.

    I don’t really have a point, other than I like your post. And I am selfish, because I like things that remind me of me.

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