Continuing on the theme of psychological questionnaires, I received another one from Stryker (via OnStaff USA). It’s not nearly as bad as the first, but still equally pointless (as they all are). The one I completed today was, unfortunately, not done on my computer but was about as dumb as the Younkers one. As I write this, I’m going to have yet another one over the phone (I had one over the phone this morning too), so I’m impressed with the faith people have in these things. There really isn’t a ton of research out there that goes into such things, but one would think the people who use these might actually stop to question their validity. These are laypeople. They aren’t trained psychologists or psychiatrists. Even if they were, they aren’t going to get a good idea of someone’s personality from a psychological questionnaire (in print or over the phone). It’s only something you’re going to get to truly understand after spending a lot of time interacting with that person, well, in person. For business purposes, at least the purposes they claim to care about, only a trained professional’s opinion would be worth a damn even then. It’s basically an exercise in pop psychological by people who really don’t know what they’re doing, but they certainly think they know what they’re doing, and that’s a bad thing.

For this questionnaire, I’m going to give the answer I think they’re looking for, and then follow that up with commentary. It always helps to get a better idea of how to “play the game” as they say. For context, this is for a nondescript call center job.

Part 1

1. I usually do something I enjoy rather than try something different.

False. It looks like to me that they are trying to assess the openness to new experiences of the candidate, and I imagine they will want someone who is open because they’ll be more adaptive to new things.


2. I do extra work to make sure things are done right.

True. Answering false will make you look lazy, or at least a person who’s willing to only do the bare minimum.


3. I keep and use a list of things I have to do.

True. Personally, I almost never do this in my personal life. It’s not something I actually need to do for any reason. Of course, they want to see if you’re organized, so tell them that you are.


4. I don’t usually like others giving me suggestions on how I should do something.

False. You always want to be open to advice from others, or at least appear to be.


5. I follow through on things no matter what it takes.

True. If you don’t have follow through, they will think you won’t be able to complete any tasks they give you.


6. I have found that group decisions are often better than individual decisions.

True. The whole “two heads are better than one” routine. They aren’t looking for individuals. They never are, not unless you’re going for an executive position.


7. I worry a lot about what could happen when things are changing.

False. You don’t want to come across as a person who stresses over change. It’s that whole “be adaptable” thing again.


8. I check to make sure that others have done what they said they would do.

True. I’m not entirely certain they want people to answer “true”. They could view you as a pest and a bully for that, but if you answer false they might view you as unable to keep team members in line.


9. I seek out new activities and responsibilities.

True. Businesses like people who take the initiative, at least to a certain extent.


10. I get a job done, even when it’s much harder than I first thought.

True. Don’t ever say you don’t complete a job, no matter how hard. You don’t want to be viewed as a quitter.


11. I’m usually most comfortable when things are predictable.

False. This seems like a silly trick question to me, where answering “false” might be viewed as a lie. However, answering “true”  might make you seem like you’re not willing to seek out those new activities and responsibilities.


12. I don’t usually think about what I need to do until it’s almost time to do it.

False. If you put stuff off until the last minute, they’ll be hesitant to hire you.


13. I explain to others why we need to work together.

True. Be the glue of the team, if you can. They like hearing that.


14. I don’t let go of something until I understand it.

True. While they might view an affirmative answer as being obsessive, a negative answer risks labeling you as a quitter.


15. I won’t settle for just doing the minimum on anything, no matter what it is.

True. They always want you to answer that you’ll go “above and beyond the call of duty”, because they’ll still be paying you just as much (or little, really), so it’s better for them.


16. I am uncomfortable when I have to handle several things at once.

False. You can multitask with the best of them, even if you can’t.


17. It really bugs me to see a problem that nobody is trying to solve.

True. Because you’ll take the initiative to solve it, right?


18. I set definite goals, then keep working at them until I’ve achieved them.

True.  You’re a good planner and a hard worker.


19. I like working in teams.

True. Sir, yes sir.


20. I can’t quite thinking about something until I’m sure I’ve done it very well.

True. I think? Once again, there’s a risk of seeming obsessive, but you want to seem like a person who finishes your tasks too, and that you desire to do so to a high quality.


21. It can take me a long time to get used to a major change in my life.

False. Again, be adaptive.


22. As soon as I finish one task, I look for another one to do.

True. I am definitely this way, and if you want to be hired you’ll say you are too.


23. If I can’t catch on to something quickly, I sometimes just drop it.

False. No quitters allowed.


24. I prefer to learn with other people.

True. *Sigh*, yes, again, be a team player.


25. I usually do my work with great care only if someone will be checking up on me.

False. You’re a moral and ethical person without Big Brother watching over you.


26. I prefer to let others take the lead in getting something done.

False. You’re a go-getter!


27. I won’t let go of a problem until I’ve solved it.

True. Never give up, never surrender.


28. I adapt quickly to new situations.

True. Oh, yes. Faster than anyone else no less.


29. I’ll frequently hold on to my opinion rather than compromise with the group.

False. I think they’re going for “false” because, aside from wanting team players, they also don’t want people who are antagonistic. My opinions are not swayed by merely what the group says. “Don’t take refuge in the false security of consensus” – Christopher Hitchens. My opinions are only swayed by logic and reasoned arguments (so, you know, evidence and all of that). I’m not going to answer that way, however, because they aren’t going to necessarily understand (by a simple true/false response) why I take the position I do. You might risk coming off as susceptible to group think, but that’s better than being what they’d brand as a contrarian.


30. I don’t worry about the little details as long as I’ve done the main things okay.

False. From basic training while being “smoked” (punished): “attention to detail, teamworks’ the key!”


31. Outside circumstances can often hinder me from coming to work as scheduled.

False. Nothing stops you from getting to work on time, soldier.


32. I do not hesitate to tell the truth even if it might be embarrassing.

True. I think? I think they mean embarrassing to the person taking the questionnaire, not embarrassing to others.


33. I only trust those who have proven themselves to me.

False. Do you risk seeming naïve? Sure, but answering “true” means they’ll probably view you as being necessarily distrustful of those who haven’t proven themselves to you. Don’t expect the reviewer to appreciate nuance.


34. Problems in getting to work on time are due to factors outside of my control.

False. If you get to work late for that reason, then duh, but you never get to work late, right? So it’s not an issue.


35. How things turn out pretty much depend upon my own choices.

True. Reality is much more balanced than this question implies, but they want employees with an internal locus of control. Now, people who have an internal locus of control and are in a bad place might actually feel worse, because they will blame themselves (even if they deserve no such blame), but I doubt the employer wants someone who always blames other people for their troubles. They view it as a matter of taking responsibility.


36. I plan ahead to make sure that I am at work before the shift starts.

True. You always plan ahead. Always.


37. Work will go fine even if I am not there.

False. Why would they need you if it will go fine without you? Risk sounding conceited.


38. I am interested in the feelings of others.

True. Because you’re not a heartless prick.


39. I have had to cover up for someone else.

False. You’re not a rule breaker troublemaker.


40. I tend to have up and down moods.

False. Funny how this question pops up everywhere. You’re human, so you will have up and down moods, yes. They might view you as a liar for answering “false”, but they might view you as unstable if you answer “true”. It’s also kind of a stupid question to ask on their part. That could be construed as asking if someone is bi-polar or not, and they can’t legally discriminate against someone for having a preexisting medical condition (so long as it doesn’t interfere with performing the job).


41. It is important that I am at work, because no one else can take my place.

True. Rephrased questions are also common…are they trying to catch people in a lie?


42. At times, I can be unkind to others. 

False. You wouldn’t swat a fly, would you Mrs. Bates?


43. I am late sometimes for appointments.

False. You weren’t even late that one time a nasty car accident brought the entire highway to a halt for several hours. You just changed into your superhero outfit and flew into work (changing back in the bathroom stall you cleverly sneaked into, of course).


44. People don’t understand how difficult things are for me.

False. Don’t be a “boo hoo, people don’t get me” whiner. They might actually not get you, and that might piss you off, but never admit that.


45. I find that there are times when I have to change the story depending on the situation.

False. I think they’re trying to ask if you’ll lie when you feel it’s called for, even if that’s not quite what the question is asking. I sense a trap.


46. At times, there are too many other things that are more important than going to work.

False. Work is your life. You don’t even have a family, because work is the only thing that will ever matter to you.


47. Some people are not worth the extra effort.

False. Of course, some people really aren’t worth the extra effort, and we all know people like that. That having been said, it’s another trap of theirs. They want to see if you’re bitter, cynical, and jaded, that you’ll not go the extra mile because you don’t like your coworker.


48. Even the most difficult things can have the greatest benefit to me.

True. Of course. Isn’t that life’s most essential axiom?


49. As long as I am in the work facility before starting time, I am okay.

False. How much before starting time, hmmm? Perhaps not enough time to get prepared? They’re trying to get you to say something you might not mean to say, and then use it against you as an excuse to screen you out (remember, they’ll be dealing with lots of applicants).


50. I do not exaggerate things even if it benefits me and makes me look better.

True. Don’t be a braggart. They’ll hate that.


51. My commitment to work is as important as my employer’s commitment to me.

True. Oddly, answering “true” is the worst thing you can do if you think through the question (which I really don’t think they did). If I gave me employer as much commitment as it showed me, I’d be giving it as little commitment as possible, and only while it’s convenient for me.


52. Regardless of what I am facing at the moment, people deserve the best from me.

True. Nothing interferes with how awesome you are.


53. If I was treated better, I would be happier and work harder.

False. Your mood isn’t dependent on how others treat you. I mean, in reality, they at least somewhat are, but you don’t let shit get you done, right, trooper?


54. I am usually working on my assignments before the shift starts.

True. If you’re starting on time you’re starting late.


55. I will report an over-payment error on my pay check even if it costs me.

True. They’d probably find it before you did, taking the money out of your next pay check (or directly out of your bank account, if you use direct deposit), but you don’t want to be viewed as a potential thief…no “bank errors in your favor”, got it?


56. Even if I don’t agree with someone, I still am able to work with them.

True. You never let arguments get in the way of your ability to work together. If you actually aren’t so good at this, learn it anyway. It really is an essential skill.


57. I make decisions on what is best rather than on feelings and circumstances.

True. Logic and reason, yo.


58. I come to work because I have to, not because I really want to.

False. Well, that’s how I’d feel about a great many jobs, yeah. I could do well with being super rich and just traveling the world without any kind of real concern whatsoever (I’d still want to do something constructive with my life, though, so I’d volunteer somewhere, or take up my photography as a real profession). I’d much prefer to have a job that I go to for the job’s own sake, not because I need money and they’ll have me. I imagine most people feel this way. In any event, remember, you want to work for them, and be happy about it, no matter how much it might suck.


59. I do not arrive late for work.

True. Jesus tap dancing Christ, no, no, a million times, no.  I don’t arrive late for work. Ever. Even if I ever have, I never have. No one has, because nothing gets in our way, not even blizzards that make driving an impossible task.


60. There are times when I have worked slower than I could have.

False. There were a couple of shitty customers, back in my Hungry Howie’s days, who not only didn’t tip me, but were always very obnoxious and rude. If I didn’t have anyone else’s orders to worry about, yeah, I gave them the bare minimum I could get away with.  I also dealt with the worst kind of white trash that makes one think that, yeah, maybe some people really shouldn’t be allowed to breed. I’m not going to tell them that, now am I? Well, except that I just did, but I don’t think their HR department is scouring the internet for the writings of little old me.


Part 2

1. Do you typically do more work than others do? If yes, please tell us about a specific time when you did so.

Yes, you do…and make something up if you have to.


2. Do you prefer a fast, medium, or slow paced environment?

Fast. They have a fast paced environment. Choose whatever the environment is of wherever you’re applying to.


3. Have you ever done anything over and over many times to get really good at it? If yes, please give an example.

Yes, because you’re a perfectionist. You mastered the violin even.


4. How important is it to get along with your co-workers? Why?

Very important, because I conflict is bad, mmmkay?


5. Would you rather have deep knowledge in one area or general knowledge in many areas? Why?

I’m not sure what they’d prefer, or even if they’d actually care. I prefer both, but lean towards a broader education. I like knowing as much as I can about as many things as possible. I find life is more interesting that way.


6. Is there something you are an expert in? If yes, give a specific example.

Yes, that violin you play.


7. Are you generous with praise? If yes, give an example about a time in the last month when you gave someone praise.

Yes, you do, and you praised X person for Y awesomeness.


8. Are you a team player of an individual achiever?

Team player. Never answer anything else.


9. Are you known for going the extra mile? If yes, give a specific example.

Yes. You’re not lazy because you did this or that heroic deed.


10. How do you feel when you leave work and something you are responsible for is not done?

Not well. Terrible, in fact.


11. What does the word “TEAM” mean to you?

A number of persons associate together in work or activity. Okay, that’s part of a dictionary definition, but it works as well as anything else.


12. Tell us about the last time something went wrong at work. How did the situation get resolved?

A customer came in, screaming at you all super loud and angry, and they left happy because you did exactly what they wanted, even if they were completely full of it.


13. Are you the person others come to if something needs to get done? If so, why?

Yep. You’re like a god that way.


14. In your past jobs, what experience have you enjoyed the most?

Working for little pay for long, shitty hours with terrible, abusive customers. I don’t know, just pick some minor thing from a past job that seems true enough for you.


15. Are you a person who insists that things are done right?

Yes. You don’t slack off.


16. Excluding vacation days and time between jobs, how many days of work have you missed in the last year?

Zero. Always zero.


17. Have you ever interviewed for a position at Stryker before, either through OnStaff USA or Stryker?

What, you mean you don’t already know? Shesh, you guys aren’t exactly on the ball, are ya? Not really an important question. Just answer whatever the truth is.

And thus concludes another episode of masterpiece questionnaire. They have no idea when you’re telling the truth or telling them what they want to hear. So, they gain nothing from it. Perhaps you do, by learning how to play the game. As long as they insist on playing it, you might as well know how.