The business of psychology

So I went for a senior management role last month and was asked, rather than sending in a CV and covering letter, to come in for a two hour psychological assessment to decide my suitability for the role. Business psychology has a long and checkered history with the vast majority of work done in the early part of the 20th century. I had, of course, done these sort of tests while an editor at TI Media because there was a time it was incredibly fashionable to have them at conferences and the like. Sort of horoscopes for senior management. I found it accurate, but not really particularly useful. For example, at the end of the session (which included tests that I would consider racially and culturally biased, to say nothing of the sexist language in the questions that hadn’t been updated since the 1930s), I was given the feedback that I would be great at change management. This would be great if I were planning a retrain in middle age to become a change manager but is the equivalent of saying “you’d make a great plumber” to someone who has trained as a chef.

The best thing about the assessment tests rather than CV & covering letter route though was that it felt fresh and different, as if you were being valued for who you are rather than what you’ve done. After all, all job hunting is biased in favour of those who are good at presenting themselves in written form and in person. Sometimes the best person for a job is the shy, modest person who forgets half the brilliant things they’ve done (fyi that’s not me; I’m all jazz hands). However, this breath of fresh air turned stale when I was told that if I hadn’t heard in two weeks about the position, I could assume that I hadn’t been successful. I had just given two hours of my time (which in consultancy fees I would value at £500 at the very least) to your hiring process and you are unable to send even a standard letter of rejection? I’d say that organisation needs some “change management” right there.

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