Posted: October 13, 2011 in Braak

So, here’s the thing.  I am looking at going back to school right now, and to that end I’m trying to find some relatively flexible work that pays me essentially enough to keep up with the payments on my car while I wallow in shame about the fact that Jeanine’s salary mostly supports the both of us.  Anyway, I saw that TGIFridays was looking to fill some bartender spots.  And, well, it’s TGIFridays, but it’s also bartending — something that I’m actually pretty good at, and something that I know pays pretty well in terms of hourly wages.  It’s right around the corner from my house, the schedule’s probably pretty flexible, and they’re doing on-the-spot interviews, so I just dropped in.  Like, an hour ago I did that.

And so I sat down in the restaurant and filled out their little application and then they bring me this psych profile test that I have to fill out and it looks like the same thing that I’ve filled out for a half a dozen jobs already; a bunch of repetitive questions about your feelings and about whether or not your co-workers would say you were a sociable person, and you have to check off somewhere in the spectrum of “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.”

Long story short:  I didn’t get an interview, they didn’t read my application, because I failed the personality test.

Ostensibly this is accurate:  I probably DON’T have the correct personality to work at TGIFridays, but here’s the thing — I was cheating on the test. When it asked, “Do you sometimes feel sad for no reason?”  or “Do you sometimes suffer from mood swings?”, the answer to that is actually, “Agree”, but since they don’t let me add the caveat, “I have a clinically-diagnosed psychological disorder called ‘Depression’, for which I have sought treatment and sometimes been medicated, and which you are, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, legally prohibited from denying me work on its account”…they don’t let me add that part, so I don’t mention it.

This means that not only am I not the kind of person that TGIFriday’s wants working at their restaurant, but even the kind of person that I imagine TGIFriday’s wants working at their restaurant isn’t the kind of person they want — that’s how far out of touch my personality is with the TGIFriday’s attitude, and I guess that’s something I should be grateful for (? I do need some work, though, is the thing).

The big problem, though, is that I’ve taken literally dozens of those tests; practically every retail store you apply to these days hits you with a psych profile before they even let you in.  How many of them have I been failing?  And why didn’t anybody tell me?  And more importantly, what am I supposed to DO about it?  The woman at TGIFriday’s said that I could re-apply in six months, and I refrained from appending to the end of her statement, “Oh, in six months when I’ve had a complete personality overhaul, you mean?”

There’s something deeply disheartening about the notion that the reason you don’t get a job has absolutely ZERO PERCENT to do with your experience or your abilities or anything like that.  They actually literally do not want you THE PERSON working for them.

I was rejected by TGIFriday’s on the same day that I found out I’ve been rejected for the PDC Playwright in Residence Program here in Philadelphia, and that one I am sure is more to do with the fact that there are just more promising playwrights in the area, which is depressing enough.  (Actually really depressing, are you happy TGIFriday’s psych exam?  There’s your fucking mood swing.)  But when I interviewed for the residency we did talk about how I have a bad attitude and am difficult to work with and I’m just generally kind of a jerk, so that couldn’t have helped.

It’s pretty surreal, you know?  Because you’re not supposed to take rejection like this personally, except it’s unequivocally, one hundred percent and specifically a personal rejection.  The Friday’s thing I’m not as worried about — it would have been a shitty job that I would have hated, anyway, but it is just really strange how brazen they are about flat out saying I have the wrong kind of personality to work for them.  I mean, it’s just regular work, right?  Like, I don’t have to live the TGIFriday’s lifestyle; so what if I like to hang out by myself when I’m at home?  I will PRETEND.  That’s what I’m getting paid for, right?  To do things that I wouldn’t normally do when I’m at home?

But the PDC Residency thing does bother me, if only because I’ve had a devil of a time getting anything like a playwriting credential on my resume.  It’s a challenge because of the actual house that I live in, and have a mortgage on; it means I can’t really GO anywhere to get a residency, like those crazy retreats that Thorton Wilder used to go on, and the only other residence in the area is UPenn’s ArtsEdge residency which you actually have to PAY FOR, because it comes with an apartment.

But, I mean, I HAVE a place to live, so I’d just be paying money for an apartment I wasn’t using.  Maybe I should apply anyway, and just sublet it?

The point is….ahhh, there’s no point.  I’m just venting, I guess, because when I get to feeling like this, it’s slightly more productive that following my instincts which is to set everything on fire.

  1. Sam says:

    I figured this out the first time I had to take one of these: These tests are about forcing you into a mindset where you purposefully lie about yourself and construct a false persona in order to get a job. If you can do that, you are corporate retail material.

  2. Erin says:

    Take this with a grain of salt: my information is at least five years old, and personality tests may have changed a lot in that time.

    But, last I knew, those tests were actually only trying to identify two things: first, whether or not you’ll steal from the company, and second, whether or not you were lying when you said you wouldn’t steal from the company.

    The second part is the tricky part. Their logic is that if you answer another question in a manner that couldn’t possibly be true but that they think you’d think they want to hear, then you probably can’t be trusted, and they’re better off without you.

    Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that “Do you sometimes feel sad for no reason?” and “Do you sometimes suffer from mood swings?” were just such test questions. Everyone suffers from mood swings to one degree or another, and everyone occasionally feels sad once in a while, so the “correct” answer to both questions was almost certainly “agree.”

  3. braak says:

    That can’t be right, because no reasonable person would ever admit to suffering from mood swings on an employment personality profile. How would they ever find anyone they considered trustworthy? And specifically, “mood swings” aren’t the same thing as “changes in mood” — they’re rapid and volatile changes in mood that are typically characteristic of a mood disorder.

    So, ah, maybe that IS how it works. Regular people without mood disorders think mood swings are just their regular mood changes, and so naturally don’t think there’s anything wrong with admitting that they have them, so they put “agree;” but people with mood disorders recognize that a mood swing is a symptom of a psychologically disruptive condition, and naturally try to hide them by putting “disagree” — because only people who have had actual mood swings recognize that not everyone actually DOES have them.

    Consequently, in both cases the respondent puts the answer that is not true, but because they do it consistently it can be used as an accurate gauge to sort out people with mood disorders.

    (I don’t think this is true, though, because most of these questions are about “People around you say that you’re very sociable”, &c., it all felt very much like a, “We’re selecting for outgoing personalities” test. I mean, it was TGIFridays, anyway, not the Franklin Mint.)

  4. undertegnede says:

    My favorite question from one such test was:

    “If you conquered another nation, would you feel more positive towards its citizens if they surrendered quickly, or less positive?”

    (Not quite verbatim, as it was five years ago) I didn’t get the job, but I’ve always wondered what the marketing department at OCÉ have been up to since then.

  5. braak says:

    That’s a good one, I like a personality test that really makes me think, you know?

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