Human Resources, The Sequel



  •  Well, a day or two after the events of http://forums.thedailywtf.com/forums/t/8866.aspx I actually succeeded in getting through to somebody and asking for an application form. I pointed out the outdated voicemail message at the same time, and the woman I spoke to assured me that it had been sorted out. She didn't offer any explanation for why her colleague/boss/whatever hadn't updated her voicemail message in either six weeks or five years, or indeed which it had been, and I decided not to ask.

    The application form arrived in the post shortly thereafter, along with a medical questionnaire and a few pamphlets on this or that aspect of being a Special Constable. Curiously, there was a note stapled to the cover letter reading thus (emphasis original):

    Dear Applicant,

    Please ignore the request to send a medical questionnaire with your application form.

    There is no medical questionnaire supplied with this application pack. Medical checks are completed at a later stage in the application process.

    Thank you.

    I looked from this note to the piece of paper with 'Medical Questionnaire' written at the top and covered in questions about illnesses a couple of times, and muttered something along the lines of "What the fuck...?" Oh well, no big deal, I thought to myself. Presumably there'd been a recent change in policy but nobody had got around to throwing away the now-redundant medical questionnaires yet, and someone had missed the memo. These things happen. I made a mental note to call back and double-check this, and began reading through the application prior to filling it out.

    The first half was fairly unremarkable; standard stuff like contact details for references and some basic biographical data, plus a few tick boxes asking me to swear on penalty of perjury that I was not a member of the British Nigger-Lynching Federation or whatever, and if there was anything in my past history that might be of use as leverage for someone looking to talk his way out of a speeding ticket. Some of them were more personal than I was entirely comfortable with, but nothing that wasn't fairly predictable given the nature of what I was applying for.

    The second half of the application form made me throw it down on my desk and say "What the fuck?" in a slightly strangled tone of voice. Let me give you an example:

    Please recall an occasion when you had to deal with someone who has been unhappy with the service they had been given or the way they had been treated. If possible, use an example of when you have done more than listen or give advice to solve the problem. You will be assessed in this question on how you acted to try to resolve or assisted the other person to solve the problem.

    (i) Describe the situation, and tell us clearly why you think they were unhappy.

    (ii) Tell us exactly what you did to try and sort out their problem, and when you did it.

    (iii) How did you know they were happy with what you had done for them?

    (iiii) If you hadn't acted as you did, what do you think the outcome would have been?

    Go on, you try and answer it without making anything up or sounding like a narcissistic prick. The form continued in similar vein for another three pages, and I suddenly began to understand why a couple of cops I got chatting to at a truck stop a few days previously were complaining about being desperately short-handed.

     Of course, TRWTF is probably the fact that I still intend to apply for the position...



  •  Seen those personality questions entirely too many times.  Not sure what a "special" constable is, but does it have anything to do with grief counseling?  Hell, even in what I think of as "routine police work" (catching burglars, breaking up fights, etc), you're going to deal with a lot of emotional people, so stuff like that is pretty necessary to make sure you're not just some psycho who wants the power and a gun.



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    make sure you're not just some psycho who wants the power and a gun.
     

    Wait, is there some other point to being a cop?



  • @vt_mruhlin said:

    ... not sure what a "special" constable is...

    I suppose the OP is from the UK. Here special constables are basically volunteer police officers who spend two unpaid days in uniform each month, performing various tasks. That's something that looks nice on your CV.



  • "vt_mruhlin": Yeah, I can see where you're coming from. Special Constables are basically the police equivalent of volunteer firefighters; part-time only, but all the same responsibilities as the regulars. I can however think of more effective ways of weeding out anyone who is just in it for the power than a bunch of vague and subjective questions on an application form, especially one issued by an organisation large and beauraucratic enough that it's unlikely that the guy who shortlists the candidates will sit on the actual interview panel.

     MPS: Good save; I was all set to flame your arse out through your ears. ;-)



  • @Jake Grey said:

     MPS: Good save; I was all set to flame your arse out through your ears. ;-)
     

    Why not do it anyway? It has never stopped anyone else before.



  • @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    Why not do it anyway? It has never stopped anyone else before.

     Because I feel no need to compensate for anything about my body, and can tell the difference between a troll and someone who might not always be easy to get along with but probably isn't doing it out of malice?



  • @Jake Grey said:

    @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    Why not do it anyway? It has never stopped anyone else before.

     Because I feel no need to compensate for anything about my body, and can tell the difference between a troll and someone who might not always be easy to get along with but probably isn't doing it out of malice?

     

    Oh stop it, you are making me blush!



  • @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    @vt_mruhlin said:

    make sure you're not just some psycho who wants the power and a gun.
     

    Wait, is there some other point to being a cop?


    Power and a nightstick?



  • @Jake Grey said:

    Please recall an occasion when you <snip>

    (i) Describe the situation, and tell us clearly why you think they were unhappy.

    (ii) Tell us exactly what you did to try and sort out their problem, and when you did it.

    (iii) How did you know they were happy with what you had done for them?

    (iiii) If you hadn't acted as you did, what do you think the outcome would have been?

    That looks like a perfectly normal example of "Behaviour Descriptive" interview technique.  I've never seen it done as a written test though.  These questions are extremely difficult to answer if you're not prepared.  If you are prepared (or it's a written test with no time limit) then you can usually come up with an example that fits the question.  They don't care if the work example you use is from when you were pushing trolleys at the supermarket in high school, they just want to get those specific 4 line-items.

    The psychological theory behind it is that past behaviour predicts future behaviour.  If they give you an example "How would you resolve X situation?" then your response only predicts how you THINK you might act, not how you will actually act.



  • @Jake Grey said:

    <

    The second half of the application form made me throw it down on my desk and say "What the fuck?" in a slightly strangled tone of voice. Let me give you an example:

    Please recall an occasion when you had to deal with someone who has been unhappy with the service they had been given or the way they had been treated. If possible, use an example of when you have done more than listen or give advice to solve the problem. You will be assessed in this question on how you acted to try to resolve or assisted the other person to solve the problem.

    (i) Describe the situation, and tell us clearly why you think they were unhappy.

    (ii) Tell us exactly what you did to try and sort out their problem, and when you did it.

    (iii) How did you know they were happy with what you had done for them?

    (iiii) If you hadn't acted as you did, what do you think the outcome would have been?

    Go on, you try and answer it without making anything up or sounding like a narcissistic prick. The form continued in similar vein for another three pages, and I suddenly began to understand why a couple of cops I got chatting to at a truck stop a few days previously were complaining about being desperately short-handed.

     Of course, TRWTF is probably the fact that I still intend to apply for the position...

    You must be kidding. THIS is a wtf to you? Have you BEEN on a job interview?

    Could you please tell us a time when a conflict arose between you and a coworker, and you handled it?

    What do you think your biggest weakness is?

    Seriously, if you're not going to be able to handle that question, rethink being a special constable. Your job is going to be 90% communication.



  •  

    (i) Describe the situation,

    Somebody called me to get information, and I forgot to change my voicemail for 5 years.

    and tell us clearly why you think they were unhappy.

    They called me an idiot...

     

    (ii) Tell us exactly what you did to try and sort out their problem,

    I had one of my underlings tell him "that it had been sorted out", but told her not to give any more information.

    and when you did it.

    The next time loser-boy called back.

     

    (iii) How did you know they were happy with what you had done for them?

     He says "I still intend to apply for the position..."

    (iiii) If you hadn't acted as you did, what do you think the outcome would have been?

     

    Who cares?



  • @dgvid said:

    @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    @vt_mruhlin said:

    make sure you're not just some psycho who wants the power and a gun.
     

    Wait, is there some other point to being a cop?


    Power and a nightstick?
     

    What is this, 1985?  It's all about the tasers and pepper spray!

     



  • @Qwerty said:

    @Jake Grey said:

    Please recall an occasion when you <snip>

    (i) Describe the situation, and tell us clearly why you think they were unhappy.

    (ii) Tell us exactly what you did to try and sort out their problem, and when you did it.

    (iii) How did you know they were happy with what you had done for them?

    (iiii) If you hadn't acted as you did, what do you think the outcome would have been?

    That looks like a perfectly normal example of "Behaviour Descriptive" interview technique.  I've never seen it done as a written test though.  These questions are extremely difficult to answer if you're not prepared.  If you are prepared (or it's a written test with no time limit) then you can usually come up with an example that fits the question.  They don't care if the work example you use is from when you were pushing trolleys at the supermarket in high school, they just want to get those specific 4 line-items.

    The psychological theory behind it is that past behaviour predicts future behaviour.  If they give you an example "How would you resolve X situation?" then your response only predicts how you THINK you might act, not how you will actually act.

     

     

    Not only are they common, but companies that do "Targeted Selection" interviews, often have nothing BUT these type of questions.  I think I answered 9 questions in similar vein when I got my first job out of school.  The company's basic assumption was by the time you got this far they 1. Knew what school/employment history you had, and in the case of school, they knew your grades.  What they didn't know yet was if you were the guy who always passed the buck, or was a glory hound.   At least that's my take on them.



  • @operagost said:

    What is this, 1985?  It's all about the tasers and pepper spray!

    As long as its not the old type pepper spray. There was a CSI episode about that, when the old pepper spray isn't water based like the current. Set a guy in flames when they tasered him.  I know you can't always believe what you see on tv..



  • @Jake Grey said:

    (i) Describe the situation, and tell us clearly why you think they were unhappy.

    Was there a question:

    "Describe in single words the only good things that come to your mind about  your mother"

     



  •  These questions are much more effective in a verbal interview. The only WTF is they gave it to you in writing and gave you time to think about it.



  • @DrJokepu said:

    @vt_mruhlin said:

    ... not sure what a "special" constable is...

    I suppose the OP is from the UK. Here special constables are basically volunteer police officers who spend two unpaid days in uniform each month, performing various tasks. That's something that looks nice on your CV.

    Yup. He mentioned in the first thread (Human Resources) that he's applying for the PCSO. Those are UK-specific, aren't they? ;)

    Anyway, questions like that do remind me of one interview ... but that time the interview was for a call center. But then again, cops do have to actually interact with the general public, don't they?



  • @medialint said:

     These questions are much more effective in a verbal interview. The only WTF is they gave it to you in writing and gave you time to think about it.

    Maybe they were just giving you warm up questions to serve as a fair warning. Maybe the personal interview was to be much more intense. That way if somebody was hesitant about them, they can reevaluate if they even want the position or not. Hopefully it would help weed out the people who didn't have their heart in it to put themselves through it.



  • Maybe it's just my work history, then; I'm less than five years out of highschool (or its UK equivalent) and spent much of the intervening time doing warehouse and assembly-line work whilst I tried to figure out what to do with my life, and I've honestly never encountered anything like this before. At any rate, I haven't the faintest idea how to answer that one without feeling like a braggart, and I don't know if I would want to employ anyone who could.

    And God only knows what I'm going to do about the ''respecting differing beliefs and cultures' one, incidentally; I spent most of my formative years living in a dreary little market town whose non-white population probably wouldn't fill a double-decker bus, so it's never really come up, and "Didn't murder a guy I shared student digs with -who happened to be black- for playing rap music loud enough to wake the dead at three o'clock in the morning" probably isn't quite what they're looking for.

    Edit: And no, "Knowing the difference between trolling and coming across as a bit of a smartass sometimes and reacting to people on the Internet accordingly" probably won't work either.



  • @Jake Grey said:

    And God only knows what I'm going to do about the ''respecting differing beliefs and cultures' one, incidentally; I spent most of my formative years living in a dreary little market town whose non-white population probably wouldn't fill a double-decker bus, so it's never really come up, and "Didn't murder a guy I shared student digs with -who happened to be black- for playing rap music loud enough to wake the dead at three o'clock in the morning" probably isn't quite what they're looking for.

    Perhaps this is the hint that you aren't qualified to be a police officer where an important part of your job will be communicating with people from various cultures?

     

    Seriously, these questions seem pretty simple to me.  I don't even understand why you think the "unhappy customer" one would make you sound narcissistic.  They're just trying to see if you have experience dealing with agitated people, which is another important skill when working as a police officer.  The point isn't to brag so much as to show how you work.  It would be no different than someone asking me "explain a time you solved a particularly difficult technical problem and how you approached it" in an interview.  The questions are probably better done in-person, but that may put you on the spot too much to remember a particular time, which isn't really what is being tested here.


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