Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




psychometric tests

I just failed a psychometric test - what i thought (naturally) is that the whole exercise is pointless, it does not measure the skills needed for the programming tasks i did. (another question why)

Is there anybody out there who could argue this issue out with the hr people responsible for hiring (after having failed the test) ? something along the lines of i failed the test, but you see, the darn thing isn't really worth much ?

p.s.
relevance of the test. Hacking (aka real problem solving) requires you to move between
different levels of abstraction - what counts is the understanding of the function
of different layers and how they interact.

The test would measure how efficient you are within one seperate level of abstraction,
not measuring what job you are doing overall.

p.s.
i think that human resources people are aliens (with apologies to man in black)

Michael Moser
Friday, May 23, 2003

For some reason psychometric tests are pretty rare here in the states, although they seem to be popular in the UK. I wonder why...

Anyway I am highly skeptical of any organization in which HR has a say in choosing software developers...

Joel Spolsky
Friday, May 23, 2003

Here in the UK, the only company I ever had a psychometric test was a US one, I was under the impression the tests were popular in the US and making headway over here...

As for not 'passing' the test - get over it, move on ... you'll probably be glad you never ended up working there in the long run.

Pete Robinson
Friday, May 23, 2003

I've never even heard of a psychometric test (Canada).  Is there an online example of one these tests?  I wouldn't mind trying it out!  (hey, it's Friday!)

Wayne Venables
Friday, May 23, 2003

There must be an online Myers Briggs test somewhere.

www.marktaw.com
Friday, May 23, 2003

can you remember one of the question's from the test and repeat it here?..

Heston Holtmann
Friday, May 23, 2003

A matrix of operators (for example 4x4 3x3)
Each operator takes an input string and transforms it into an output string by either 1) doubling a letter 2) switching order of letters 3) deleting a letter
There is only the input and output of a series of operators (not the intermediate steps). Infer the meaning of the operator (30 questions in 30? minutes).

blinkenlight test
There is a network of operators where the input is a state of a traffic light (red, green on).
Each operator acts as filter (passes only red and green) there are adders there are difference operators.
One of the operators is said to be malfunctioning (according to the type of operator that means it passes all the lights through or blocks all light). Infer which of them is malfunctioning.
Again, 30 questions in 30 minutes).

And another one of those (again same amount of time).



Michael Moser
Friday, May 23, 2003

Your liucky you're not in Spain. When I last there it was graphology. You had to send in every job application in your own handwriting so they could analyze it! And that was for jobs at filling stations!

One way of cutting down on the number of resumes!

In general management is always looking for the Holy Grail. The thing to remember is that most software sales are to companies that don't really need them but have been persuaded to buy them by the same tactics they buy Management guru weekends and psychometric tests. The kind of idiocy that has cost you one job will mean that there is going to be work for the next one.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 23, 2003

Hey Michael,
                    I know those tests. British Steel hired a company to come over to Saudi to test all the steel trainees with these kind of questions.

                      They are basically vocational aptitude tests. The idea is to see what kind of job in the company is best for you.

                        A bit late after you've spent three years doing a CS degree :)

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 23, 2003

You are right. Some HR people are like aliens.

The questions they ask!!!

Moving between different teams in the same company is no big deal. Projects end. Some companies like moving people about. Groups raid other groups for developers.

I remember one HR woman getting all excited when I mentioned I moved from one group to another in the same company. She obviously thought she was onto something and kept asking why. It was just a normal move so that I could do some more urgent programming work.

I've done so much programming. I've listed it on my CV (resume). Some of it is quite interesting. I've written software to handle utility bill payments from ATM machines and that was back in 1997. I worked at a world famous company. I've written a compiler and a small language more high level than SQL. However all HR woman could  ask about was a gap on my CV. The gap was because of an extended period of compusory jury service. It is almost as if what you actually do in a job is totally unimportant to them. Just gaps and lengths of time doing the same thing.

Job agencies are even more insane. A couple of them seem to get stuck because I listed on my CV I can program in C/C++ and Java. When I speak to them on the phone they ask whether I can program in Java or C++. I say both. I've programmed in both for years. I'm not really much stronger in one than the other. The only thing is nobody can keep all with all the new layers of Java software constantly being added. However because I say I've programmed in both C++ and Java, they half my time in employment and then say I don't have enough experience to be put forward.

Bagpuss
Friday, May 23, 2003

Those questions sound similar to the http://www.techinterview.org/ questions Fog Creek publishes.

www.marktaw.com
Saturday, May 24, 2003

Hey, Stephen Jones, ever worry about getting your head chopped off in Saudi due to writing buggy software?

I hear the last thing they do before they chop off the head is to stick a knife up your arse so that you stretch your neck out.

Can a westerner really live there?

Realist
Saturday, May 24, 2003

Sorry, silly question, of course a westener *can* live there, but would you want to?

I assume from your comment above that you may have lived, or live there.

Sorry to be nosey but I have a prospective (short term, big bucks, just like the hookers) job opportunity in Saudi and I know nothing about the place. Seems like a shit hole to me.

Realist
Saturday, May 24, 2003

Dear Realist
                    Short term. big bucks sounds like Saudi is doable, but it all depends on the alternatives.

                      How short term? A month? A year?

                      Best thing you can do is mail me through the link on the forum. They've not been known to chop of somebody's hand for typing unfortunate comments on the web (the standard punishment is a mere few hundred lashes in installments of twenty!) but there's always somebody who's going to be a first.

                        Dion't worry about me stealing your gig. I'm an English teacher not a software developer. Which means I get three months or more holiday a year, which is how I stand it.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, May 24, 2003

Incidentally they just give you a little nick on the back of the neck to get you to lift it in a reflex action so they can make a clean cut.

So it's not quite as much a spectator sport as you would wish.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, May 24, 2003

I used to live in Israel, where psychometric tests are the norm for computer jobs.  I took two of them for two different companies; it was incredibly absurd.

For one thing, they do graphology (!), which was kind of funny because my Hebrew at the time wasn't good enough to write a resume, but they wouldn't take a sample of my writing in English, and they didn't like any of the sentences my Hebrew was competent enough to cover.

The test itself was half IQ-type questions (what's the next # in this sequence, which shape doesn't belong, and so on), and half psychological stuff (here are some circles; fill them in with pictures; draw a tree; waht's happening in these pictures, etc).

And, after all that, I'd say the caliber of engineers they hired was no better than I've found in the US, and the single worst programmer I've ever met was in one of those companies, so obviously the weeding out doesn't work very well...

Gavin

Gav
Sunday, May 25, 2003

Psychometric tests are a little different to a lot of those described here, some are IQ tests.  Psychometric tests attempt by asking a great many questions (500 is the minimum statistically useful population), to discover things like attitudes, emotional responses, logical and rational responses.

You can learn how to take them to produce any desired psycho-social character. 

For the most part they are administered by people ill equipped and unqualified to do so and on some occasions the interpretation is performed by software.

They are all witchdoctor tests and wholly without value, I certainly wouldn't work for any organisation that used them.

Aptitude tests are a slightly different case and if I were an unexperienced tyro then I probably wouldn't mind taking one, but not these days.

Simon Lucy
Sunday, May 25, 2003

Oh and Graphology is no more useful than Astrology.

Simon Lucy
Sunday, May 25, 2003

wow. sitting back scanning over these horror stories you folks are posting. WTF is next at some of these companies, phrenology? casting old chicken bones? Jeeze!

what a charlie-foxtrot hiring is!

anon
Sunday, May 25, 2003

Thanks Realist for your off-topic interlude since its been something I've wanted to know about myself.

OK, public lashings, heads chopped off, arms and tongues removed, human slavery.

Middle ages? No, modern Saudi. Is there a more primitive and barbaric country on earth? I'm not trying to be mean here, but it doesn't seem normal to me that people aren't more shocked by what is going on there. It's like there's a cannibalistic child molester next door and everyone just giggles and turns the other way. Shouldn't the world take these things more seriously? Can anyone be at peace when such barbarism is practiced by such an uncivilized state?

Tony Chang
Monday, May 26, 2003

Dear Tony,
                Public executions: now isn't that strange but don't they have those in the US? I thought they televised them.  And in Saudi murder is considered a civil crime; that is, the next of kin can decide whether to have the victim executed or accept monetary compensation instead. Of late in many cases the family has pardoned the murderer and waived monetary compensation.

                  "human slavery" Slavery was abolished here in 1967. That was 102 years after it was abolished in the US, but on the other hand it was done voluntarily and without a civil war. And, unlike in the US and many former European colonies, slaves were generally treated humanely, were somewhat of a middle class, and many of them actually owned slaves themselves.

                  "arms and tongues removed" - hands and feet actually. Exceptionally rare, and only for third or fourth time offenders. In California third time offenders convicted of stealing a pizza are locked up for life without parole. Considerably more barbarous.

                  "Public lashes" - more like caning actually. The person doing the caning has to have a copy of the Quran under the arm he is usiing to hit with so the amount of force is limited.

                  Saudi has plenty of abuses, the application of civil legislation being one of them and the exploitation of immigrant labour being another, but general barbarity is not one of them. There are many, many countries, including some democracies, where repression is much greater.

                    In the mid-90's there were political protests by the radical islamists in Buraidah in Central Province, and after the crackdown many of the better off amongst the protestors decided to flee to the UK. I heard one on the radio complaining about police mistreatment; while he was at the demonstration he claimed the police had scratched his car. The standard punishment was to sack protestors from government service. Not very pleasant but hardly on a par with what happens in many other countries

Stephen Jones
Monday, May 26, 2003

[quote]
Saudi has plenty of abuses, the application of civil legislation being one of them and the exploitation of immigrant labour being another, but general barbarity is not one of them. There are many, many countries, including some democracies, where repression is much greater.
[/quote]

Can you please tell us about other democracies where the repression is much greater?

Homo Sapien
Monday, May 26, 2003

"Can you please tell us about other democracies where the repression is much greater?"

Here in Australia they saddle you up with debt and make you go to work each day. Abuses involving forcing people to develop software have been known.

Realist
Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Dear Homo Sapiens,
                                Check out the number people killed in Indian riots in places such as Gujarat where it is clear that the state police and state government were behind the murder of up to 2,000 Muslims.

                                It is calculated that up to 50,000 Sinhala civilians were killed (many by being burnt alive with a tire around their waist and then left by the roadside "pour encourages les autres") in the crackdown on the JVP in Sri Lanka, in 1989-1991. Note that this excludes the Tamils killed in the civil war (more of whom were actually killed by the Tamil Tigers than by the Sri Lankan army) and the Tamils who died when their houses, and often they themselves, were torched in July 1983 on the basis of the electoral rolls provided by ruling party politicians, including at least one minister who was directly involved.

                              Consider the number of civilians massacred in East Timor AFTER democracy was restored to Indonesia on the fall of Suharto, ot the number of civilians still being killed now in the present crackdown on Aceh. One of the generals involved in a Jakarta investigation into alleged war crimes in East Timor excused himself from appearing to the tribunal because he was too busy cracking down on "terrorists' in Aceh.

                              And seeing that somebody bought up the case of Australia, bear in mind that the indigeneous population of Tasmania died out in 1872 as a result of massacres by the white setlers, and, that until the end of the 60's it was government policy to kidnap Aborigine children, separate them forever from their parents, and send them to orphanages or foster homes with white parents.

                            And these are just a few democracies I am mentioning, not the considerably greater number of non-democracies.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, May 27, 2003

"end of the 60's it was government policy to kidnap Aborigine children"

Actually not true, the film which popularised this myth (rabbit proof fences)  has been discredited on this point, by both sides of the argument. But yes, bad things were done, of this there is no doubt.

I would say the massacres in Rwanda take the overall cake.

Realist
Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Actually, I'm not sure if Rwanda was/is a democracy.

Realist
Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Seminario on line gratuito sobre Grafología:
www.grafologiauniversitaria.com

ICG
Thursday, February 05, 2004

Hmmm!, is it possible to cheat the psychometric testing process? An experienced senior psychologist tells me "no".
The tests are designed with tell-tale indicators to weed out those who try to answer what they think the tester wants to hear. What are these indicators?

Imperial Psycho
Sunday, March 14, 2004

if any one can give me more details on these tests, it would really help...am doing a summer project on psychometric tests and am not getting much info.Thanks.

Sunayana
Thursday, April 01, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home