September 29, 2010

Despite its false provenance, this personality test is intriguing

By Fotocromo | stock.xchng
I recently received in my e-mail a copy of "Dr. Phil's test." I usually view with suspicion anything that shows signs, as this did, of having been forwarded more than once, but this time I played along. The message said, "Dr. Phil scored 55. He did this on Oprah and she got 38. Some people pay a lot of money to find this out!"

There followed a multiple-choice quiz that is said to be used by human resources departments as part of a hiring process. A sample question:
1. When do you feel your best?
  1. In the morning
  2. During the afternoon and early evening
  3. Late at night
I scored 38, which means people see me as "sensible, cautious, careful and practical...clever, gifted, or talented, but modest.... Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make..."

The correspondent who sent the test told me he scored 48, which means people see him as "fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting...kind, considerate, and understanding, someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out." All of which is certainly true.

But of course the skeptic in me wondered whether HR departments really make decisions based on a ten-question test. Top Google result? Snopes, as you may have guessed.

No, the test isn't from Dr. Phil. Yes, it is more accurate than random chance would suggest. But there's no indication it's used in HR circles, and surely no one is paying "a lot of money" for a thing freely available on the Internet. The folks at Snopes call it a "parlor trick." Which doesn't make it a bad thing. It's actually kind of an amusing thing. It just happens to be wrapped in some false advertising.

September 9, 2010

I've been compared with worse

My critique partner Robynn wrote a blog post in which she compares me to the queen bug from the Alien movies. I consider it a lovely tribute.

Thanks, Robynn.