Who Wants To Be A Tester?

The other day a friend of mine asked me to look at a well-known person who was promoting an interview program. He asked me if the person getting that much attention had a product that deserved it. Well, I am always open to a challenge. Like Diogenes, the Greek Philosopher who searched for an honest man, I went searching for an honest selection program. BRRAAPP! Sorry, wrong again. The site turned out to be just another product of someone with a keen marketing eye, mediocre technology, and some wrong-headed statistics. That brief search led me to the subject of this column. What do you call it when someone gives you a question and your answer is judged as being right or wrong? A test? Yes, that’s what most people would say. And, that is just what an interview is: a verbal test. Someone asks questions. Another person answers those questions. And the winning contestant gets to solve an ongoing organizational problem in exchange for money! So, let’s examine this two-legged test delivery technique and see what kind of job it does. Ready Regis? Regis: “For your first question, Bill…Going for $50,000 a year. What kind of challenges have you faced in the past?” Dum Dum….Dum Dum….Dum Dum… (pun intended). Bill: “Well, Regis, I was challenged with a difficult problem when I had to develop a Framistat Synchronizer. The Obliterator was wackus and I had to bollix the Frip to get it working again. It was really hard.” Regis: “Is that your final answer?” Bill: “Yes.” <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Regis: “What do you think, audience?” (“The audience reaction is mixed, folks. Some of them think it’s a good answer. But others think it is too general for me to accept. Wait! One person is asking me what the question has to do with performing the job.”) “I don’t know, sir, I got it from a course. It is supposed to challenge people to make them think!” (“I don’t think he liked that answer.”) “Well, at least it sounded good, sir! No, I don’t know how to measure if it is right or not. I said it sounded good. Isn’t that worth something?” Audience: Mumble. Mumble. Regis: “Don’t blame me. I got the question from a manager when I asked her about what it takes to do their job.” Audience: Mumble. Rumble. Regis: “What do you mean that managers aren’t always the best source of how to do it right? They get the results, don’t they? What do I care how they do it. The Trojans sacked Troy didn’t they?” Audience: Mumble. Rumble. Regis: “Well, if you want to put it that way. I guess the “horse strategy thing” had something to do with it. I should be looking at what? Look, I just ask the questions. It is up to you to decide of they are the right ones! What do you mean I should know better? How the #$%@ am I supposed to know what the right answers are. It is hard enough just to get you guys together to talk! Competencies my @#$!^.” Audience: Rumble. Mumble. Rumble. Regis: “Look, I don’t want to get tough, but I can and I will. I do my best to ask the test questions. If the questions aren’t job related, at least I send you people who give good answers. You got a problem with that, pizza face?” CRASH!! Announcer: “We are temporarily experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by while we gather together a group of job content experts and ask them questions. We’ll ask job holders what they do, managers what’s important, and senior managers about future job changes. We’ll convert that data into some questionnaires and develop competency lists to confirm what we heard. Once we know what to look for, we’ll develop special questions and review them with managers to give us a list of desirable answers. Oh, yes. Since we know even the best interviews are only 10% accurate at predicting a certain level of performance, we’ll also add some other selection tools to increase our accuracy. Please tune in next week when we will have repaired our stage set and hired a new interviewer.”

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