Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The shaky ground of psychometric testing

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  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    ... And I just found these entries by chance in a POW's 1918 diary in the Liddle Collection in Leeds:

    Sunday 16 June 1918
    No work.
    I have seen more men reading their bibles than ever before.

    Monday 17 June 1918
    Work on roadway, heavy rain.
    Dinner not fit to eat ...

    And here's Private Sidney Hamblin, 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, writing home from the trenches:

    10 January 1918 The trenches are awful, I didn’t sing many carols, old Fritz’s shells don’t form a very good base … The chaps read their bibles and pray, they look at that verse in Rev which says the war will last 42 months & of course they think it refers to this war, they don’t understand … Well my best hope is a slight wound that will take me home.

    There's this long history of books (and even the Bible!) coming in quite handy in combat zones and behind the lines. Losing oneself in a book momentarily was a tried and true coping mechanism for combat stress, not to mention a way of doing something in the long hours of waiting that military life generally consists of ...

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,


    So you’re not down with this kind of thing?

    No, I'm more thinking along the lines of some bastard dropping shells on me (crisis) and wanting to be somewhere else.

    Even clicking you heels together and thinking of Kansas might be as useful as reading a bible.....

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Ben Austin, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Golly Rich, that sounds quite awful. I don't think I've come across such a thing before, happily. I must admit to being a little nervous as to whenever it is I move back to NZ and have to reacquaint myself to NZ agencies/HR, given how annoying it was to do the same moving to London. I don't know if either are better or worse, more just the need to adjust.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report

  • Moz,

    My experience was a bit magic. We had some friend of the boss come through and do Myers-Briggs plus a "personality colour" test. It was very educational, because we divided ourselves into co-operators and antagonists fairly naturally (bunch of programmers) and the antagonists went all out to bollix up the tests. At the end of the process we got to give feedback in a big group session and someone asked "could you tell who was trying to screw things up" and ... no. Even the deeply introverted guy who managed to come out as highly social wasn't picked up.

    The colour stuff was loosely another spectrum-of-response thing based on organisational type I think, but it was almost useless because everyone in the company except the boss was pretty cliche methodical and precise. So we got a lot of "half of you are deep blue, the other half are pink". Really? Half of us answered as Ian, the boss. And we know that, that's why we keep having discussions about one loose cannon who keeps fscking everything up, leaving stuff until the last minute and forgetting to do essential things. Oh, and making us all waste a day doing psychometric testing.

    I interviewed for a bank job in Oz and they did a huge amount of digging through stuff, including a psych test of some sort. Which was predictably useless, since I was an awful fit but the psych test said I'd be great. The hardest thing about that interview though was the "list everywhere you've lived in the last 5 years". I'd been contract programming between bouts of tourism. I ended up giving them about 10 addresses and hoping for the best. Same with employers, I just listed the ones I could trust to give good reports and cover for me when I fudged the dates. There's only so many "spent a month demonstrating that adding new staff when the project is late makes it later (got paid well)" that I can be bothered recording. Thankfully when they questioned me about it I was permitted a copy of my resume :)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report

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