Employment Screening Test

• So, I was doing this employment screening test, and first off, let me say, I kinda like them... most of the time. I love being able to go online and in a few minutes, I can give a prospective employer a really nice, objective measurement of my ability. I usually shine on these kind of tests and fail on the "social" interview, although I'm a lot more sociable than I used to be (I'm a geek, I don't know who won last night's game). So I was excited to go and do a test, and I have used the web site before, but all the tests are prepared by specific employers so they are all different. The only thing I don't like about the site itself is there is no score given to you, nor explanations of the questions in case you get them wrong. On this site, I've done some fun tests about programming and done fairly well.

So I click in and go to do my test, and lo and behold... it's a fucking test about basic algebra and reading comprehension! This is for a senior programming position. I have almost 25 years of experience. I can do basic math, and I can read.

So, what do you think of asking questions like the following... for an hour on end...

Your department has recently lost one fifth of the workers due to retirement. After that, 75 employees transferred to another department. Now you have 200 employees, how many did you have before the retirements?

WTF?!

• Is TRWTF that you started with a fractional number of employees?

•  One would think so, but that question is one of those algebraic tricks.

n + n/5 = 275 -> n(6/5) = 275 -> n = 275*5/6, which is 330.

• You have to watch those +/- signs...

n - n/5 = 275 -> n(4/5) = 275 -> n = 275*5/4 = er,  343.75?  "Something like" aside, the possible explanations start with "illegal child labor" and go rapidly downhill from there.

• Alternatively, "one fifth" meant "one fifth of the current number of employees".  I could see throwing in one ambiguously-worded question like this to see who addresses the ambiguity, but an hour's worth is a worthy WTF.

• @jasmine2501 said:

it's a fucking test about basic algebra and reading comprehension! This is for a senior programming position. I have almost 25 years of experience. I can do basic math, and I can read.

TRWTF is that a lot of people holding senior programming positions can't do basic math or read, so this test is actually a good idea.

And don't even get me started on the folks in marketing.

• @jasmine2501 said:

So I click in and go to do my test, and lo and behold... it's a fucking test about basic algebra and reading comprehension! This is for a senior programming position. I have almost 25 years of experience. I can do basic math, and I can read.

That's what "screening" means.  It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response filter out the completely hopeless quickly at the very first stage of the process without having to waste any time getting them in for interview.

• @superjer said:

Is TRWTF that you started with a fractional number of employees?

Depends on how you account for employees. Measuring in FTEs (full time equivalents) would make sense, or maybe there was an amputee.

• @da Doctah said:

@jasmine2501 said:

it's a fucking test about basic algebra and reading comprehension! This is for a senior programming position. I have almost 25 years of experience. I can do basic math, and I can read.

TRWTF is that a lot of people holding senior programming positions can't do basic math or read, so this test is actually a good idea.

And don't even get me started on the folks in marketing.

Yes I agree, so you give the person maybe two or three designed to test different mathematical concepts - you don't give someone 45 minutes of math questions which all have to do with percentage growth and fractions. The thing that really bugged me is that after all the math questions, AND the analogies AND the "read this passage" type questions, there was NO PROGRAMMING QUESTIONS, only a few questions about internet sites like did I know what Yelp is. It does really seem like I was given a test for a different position. (The sample question was made up, but they were all 'in that style')

• @emurphy said:

Alternatively, "one fifth" meant "one fifth of the current number of employees".  I could see throwing in one ambiguously-worded question like this to see who addresses the ambiguity, but an hour's worth is a worthy WTF.

There was one question like that, but I have no idea if I got it right. Here it is

Lawnmowers are made from \$50 of parts. Workers make \$8.50 per hour and it takes 7 hours to build a lawnmower. If you want to make at least \$30 profit on each lawnmower, what is the best selling price.

The cost plus labor plus \$30 is \$139.50 - one of the answers was "\$139" - but that doesn't give you "at least" \$30 profit, it only gives you \$29.50 - so I was tempted to choose the next larger answer which was something like \$145, but I picked the \$139 answer.

• @jasmine2501 said:

so I was tempted to choose the next larger answer which was something like \$145, but I picked the \$139 answer.

I wonder, why did you choose \$139? As you pointed out, \$139 defintely doesn't fit the given conditions (it doesn't give \$30 profit), while the option \$145 -- perfectly does?

• @gribunin said:

@jasmine2501 said:
so I was tempted to choose the next larger answer which was something like \$145, but I picked the \$139 answer.

I wonder, why did you choose \$139? As you pointed out, \$139 defintely doesn't fit the given conditions (it doesn't give \$30 profit), while the option \$145 -- perfectly does?

If jasmine2501 does not get a call back, then it sounds like the test served its purpose well.

• @Pascal said:

@gribunin said:

@jasmine2501 said:
so I was tempted to choose the next larger answer which was something like \$145, but I picked the \$139 answer.

I wonder, why did you choose \$139? As you pointed out, \$139 defintely doesn't fit the given conditions (it doesn't give \$30 profit), while the option \$145 -- perfectly does?

If jasmine2501 does not get a call back, then it sounds like the test served its purpose well.

That depends on whether the italics on at least were on the original test or were introduced by jasmine2501 when posting here.  If those words were highlighted in any way on the test, I agree it's a fail, but otherwise I'd assume it was phrased by committee and give the same answer.

These tests aren't supposed to trick people; they're supposed to test your ability to solve the problem.  Ideally, they should be no more misleading as to what the intended meaning of the question is as the requests you'd be faced with every day on the job.

• @da Doctah said:

That depends on whether the italics on at least were on the original test or were introduced by jasmine2501 when posting here.  If those words were highlighted in any way on the test, I agree it's a fail, but otherwise I'd assume it was phrased by committee and give the same answer.

These tests aren't supposed to trick people; they're supposed to test your ability to solve the problem.  Ideally, they should be no more misleading as to what the intended meaning of the question is as the requests you'd be faced with every day on the job.

As with many jobs that require a brain, a programmer must be able to read the requirements and deliver a solution that meets them.  jasmine2501 failed.  Let me see if I can rephrase the problem to make this clearer:

Landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth takes at least 139.50 tons of fuel.  How much fuel should be loaded?

A. 100 tons

B. 120 tons

C. 139 tons

D. 145 tons

Obviously the numbers are off, but that is not the point.  Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades.  If you fail to meet the requirements, you fail!

• @jasmine2501 said:

Your department has recently lost one fifth of the workers due to retirement. After that, 75 employees transferred to another department. Now you have 200 employees, how many did you have before the retirements?

Uh. Gettysburg!

• @Pascal said:

@da Doctah said:

That depends on whether the italics on at least were on the original test or were introduced by jasmine2501 when posting here.  If those words were highlighted in any way on the test, I agree it's a fail, but otherwise I'd assume it was phrased by committee and give the same answer.

These tests aren't supposed to trick people; they're supposed to test your ability to solve the problem.  Ideally, they should be no more misleading as to what the intended meaning of the question is as the requests you'd be faced with every day on the job.

As with many jobs that require a brain, a programmer must be able to read the requirements and deliver a solution that meets them.  jasmine2501 failed.  Let me see if I can rephrase the problem to make this clearer:

Landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth takes at least 139.50 tons of fuel.  How much fuel should be loaded?

A. 100 tons

B. 120 tons

C. 139 tons

D. 145 tons

Obviously the numbers are off, but that is not the point.  Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades.  If you fail to meet the requirements, you fail!

You're missing the point yourself, in my book. If your boss asks you a question like that, the correct answer is to explain that one option is very close to, but just under, the minimum requirement, and one is significantly over. In the case of sending a rocket to the moon, answer C is too little, and answer D equally wrong by being far too large. In the case of widget-pricing, presumably the \$30 target was a round number and C is a perfectly acceptable answer within the meaning of the question.

In any case, I'm reminded of this:@Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon said:

They gave him an intelligence test. The first question on the math part had to do with boats on a river: Port Smith is 100 miles upstream of Port Jones. The river flows at 5 miles per hour. The boat goes through water at 10 miles per hour. How long does it take to go from Port Smith to Port Jones? How long to come back?

Lawrence immediately saw that it was a trick question. You would have to be some kind of idiot to make the facile assumption that the current would add or subtract 5 miles per hour to or from the speed of the boat. Clearly, 5 miles per hour was nothing more than the average speed. The current would be faster in the middle of the river and slower at the banks. More complicated variations could be expected at bends in the river. Basically it was a question of hydrodynamics, which could be tackled using certain well-known systems of differential equations. Lawrence dove into the problem, rapidly (or so he thought) covering both sides of ten sheets of paper with calculations. Along the way, he realized that one of his assumptions, in combination with the simplified Navier-Stokes equations, had led him into an exploration of a particularly interesting family of partial differential equations. Before he knew it, he had proved a new theorem. If that didn't prove his intelligence, what would?

Then the time bell rang and the papers were collected. Lawrence managed to hang onto his scratch paper. He took it back to his dorm, typed it up, and mailed it to one of the more approachable math professors at Princeton, who promptly arranged for it to be published in a Parisian mathematics journal.

Lawrence received two free, freshly printed copies of the journal a few months later, in San Diego, California, during mail call on board a large ship called the U.S.S. Nevada. The ship had a band, and the Navy had given Lawrence the job of playing the glockenspiel in it, because their testing procedures had proven that he was not intelligent enough to do anything else.

• Hmmm, how can i be the first...

You have....

If I have 200 people then my department has 201 people... Or am I not part of my department?

(200 + 75 + 1) / 4 * 5

minus 1 is what I had.

• @Weps said:

Hmmm, how can i be the first...

You have....

If I have 200 people then my department has 201 people... Or am I not part of my department?

(200 + 75 + 1) / 4 * 5

minus 1 is what I had.

That seems possibly correct, for a trick question.  Not at all appropriate for a senior position.

• @jasmine2501 said:

So I click in and go to do my test, and lo and behold... it's a fucking test about basic algebra and reading comprehension!

I fail to understand what sexual intercourse has to do with the test. Or is it your limited vocabulary that is the problem?

• @SilentRunner said:

[quote user="jasmine2501"]

So I click in and go to do my test, and lo and behold... it's a fucking test about basic algebra and reading comprehension!

I fail to understand what sexual intercourse has to do with the test. Or is it your limited vocabulary that is the problem?

[/quote]
You misunderstand. The test didn't have questions about fucking. The test itself was fucking, and contained questions about basic algebra and reading comprehension. (It wasn't specified what the test was fucking)

• @jasmine2501 said:

Your department has recently lost one fifth of the workers due to retirement. After that, 75 employees transferred to another department. Now you have 200 employees, how many did you have before the retirements?
I would say the correct answer is 344, considering 69 is about a fifth of the employees. One could argue they were describing the situation casually.

@jasmine2501 said:

Lawnmowers are made from \$50 of parts. Workers make \$8.50 per hour and
it takes 7 hours to build a lawnmower. If you want to make at least \$30 profit on each lawnmower, what is the best selling price.

The cost plus labor plus \$30 is \$139.50 - one of the answers was "\$139"

• but that doesn't give you "at least" \$30 profit, it only gives you
\$29.50 - so I was tempted to choose the next larger answer which was
something like \$145, but I picked the \$139 answer.
If workers form an assembly line (they probably do), after 7 hours you'll have a complete lawnmower plus some partially built ones, depending on what times it takes to do the most time-consuming subtask in lawnbuilder production.

• @MascarponeRun said:

In any case, I'm reminded of this:@Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon said:
They gave him an intelligence test. The first question on the math part had to do with boats on a river: Port Smith is 100 miles upstream of Port Jones. The river flows at 5 miles per hour. The boat goes through water at 10 miles per hour. How long does it take to go from Port Smith to Port Jones? How long to come back?

Lawrence immediately saw that it was a trick question. You would have to be some kind of idiot to make the facile assumption that the current would add or subtract 5 miles per hour to or from the speed of the boat. Clearly, 5 miles per hour was nothing more than the average speed. The current would be faster in the middle of the river and slower at the banks. More complicated variations could be expected at bends in the river. Basically it was a question of hydrodynamics, which could be tackled using certain well-known systems of differential equations. Lawrence dove into the problem, rapidly (or so he thought) covering both sides of ten sheets of paper with calculations. Along the way, he realized that one of his assumptions, in combination with the simplified Navier-Stokes equations, had led him into an exploration of a particularly interesting family of partial differential equations. Before he knew it, he had proved a new theorem. If that didn't prove his intelligence, what would?

Then the time bell rang and the papers were collected. Lawrence managed to hang onto his scratch paper. He took it back to his dorm, typed it up, and mailed it to one of the more approachable math professors at Princeton, who promptly arranged for it to be published in a Parisian mathematics journal.

Lawrence received two free, freshly printed copies of the journal a few months later, in San Diego, California, during mail call on board a large ship called the U.S.S. Nevada. The ship had a band, and the Navy had given Lawrence the job of playing the glockenspiel in it, because their testing procedures had proven that he was not intelligent enough to do anything else.

Alas, the "Lawerence's" of the world are *too* intelligent to actually acomplish a goal in many cases, and it may be better for all (except Lawerence) if he does play the glockenspiel. [Of course, the may eventually involve Lawerence "playing with" a Glock...but that is another tale....]

• @jasmine2501 said:

Lawnmowers are made from \$50 of parts. Workers make \$8.50 per hour and it takes 7 hours to build a lawnmower. If you want to make at least \$30 profit on each lawnmower, what is the best selling price.

Depends on what you mean by "best". The smallest answer above \$139.50 is best for the consumer. What is best for the company depends on the elasticity of demand...

• @SilentRunner said:

@jasmine2501 said:

So I click in and go to do my test, and lo and behold... it's a fucking test about basic algebra and reading comprehension!

I fail to understand what sexual intercourse has to do with the test. Or is it your limited vocabulary that is the problem?

Was it your mommy who told that "fucking" was only used as an intensifier by people with limited vocabularies?  Because whoever it was, s/he was a fucking liar.  Polysemy [i]enriches[/i] our language.

• @Iago said:

Was it your mommy who told that "fucking" was only used as an intensifier by people with limited vocabularies?  Because whoever it was, s/he was a fucking liar.  Polysemy enriches our language.
You are my fucking favorite.

And people who use the term "sexual intercourse" outside a medical or legal setting don't have enough of it. There is no reason you need six syllables to do what one or two can. Hell, you even included the one-syllable version IN your six.

• @Weng said:

And people who use the term "sexual intercourse" outside a medical or legal setting don't have enough of it

I'm a fan of coitus.

• @Zemm said:

@Weng said:

And people who use the term "sexual intercourse" outside a medical or legal setting don't have enough of it

I'm a fan of coitus.

IMO permissible only if followed by the words "ensues" "ensued" or "interruptus"

• @Weng said:

@Zemm said:

I'm a fan of coitus.

IMO permissible only if followed by the words "ensues" "ensued" or "interruptus"

"The physical act of love"

• @Zemm said:

I'm a fan of coitus.
Coitus ergo sum?

@Weng said:

@Zemm said:

I'm a fan of coitus.

IMO permissible only if followed by the words "ensues" "ensued" or "interruptus"

"The physical act of love"

Not as elegant or poetic as "bumpin' uglies".

• @Anonymouse said:

@Zemm said:

I'm a fan of coitus.
Coitus ergo sum?

/me starts a slow clap

• @da Doctah said:

@Weng said:

@Zemm said:

I'm a fan of coitus.

IMO permissible only if followed by the words "ensues" "ensued" or "interruptus"

"The physical act of love"

Not as elegant or poetic as "bumpin' uglies".

Sure, but if you're going for poetic, it's hard to beat the Bard and "Making the beast with two backs."

"The physical act of love"

Only if you work on the TV news where everything must be couched in politically correct euphemisms and anything else would get you fired.

• @da Doctah said:

@Weng said:

@Zemm said:

I'm a fan of coitus.

IMO permissible only if followed by the words "ensues" "ensued" or "interruptus"

"The physical act of love"

Not as elegant or poetic as "bumpin' uglies".

Ten toes to Jesus?

•  Wait, there was a game last night?

• @Anonymouse said:

Coitus ergo sum?

Dave Lister, is that you?

• @boomzilla said:

"Making the beast with two backs."

...Out of old plastic squeezy bottles and double-sided sticky tape.

• @da Doctah said:

That depends on whether the italics on at least were on the original test or were introduced by jasmine2501 when posting here.  If those words were highlighted in any way on the test, I agree it's a fail, but otherwise I'd assume it was phrased by committee and give the same answer.

I added the formatting myself to show words which, under most circumstances would indicate picking the 'way too big' answer as the correct one. I failed badly enough on the test that they called me back before 10am today.

• @da Doctah said:

These tests aren't supposed to trick people; they're supposed to test your ability to solve the problem.  Ideally, they should be no more misleading as to what the intended meaning of the question is as the requests you'd be faced with every day on the job.

Yes, for a programmer test, I would have expected questions which were obviously misleading and missing critical information needed to solve the problem. In many cases there wouldn't even be a question at all and you would have to decide what they were asking. That would be a programming test.

• @jasmine2501 said:

I failed badly enough on the test that they called me back before 10am today.
In all seriousness, congratulations on the callback and I'm sure most of us are pulling for you (just not the ones competing with you for the position).

• @jasmine2501 said:

So, what do you think of asking questions like the following... for an hour on end...

Your department has recently lost one fifth of the workers due to retirement. After that, 75 employees transferred to another department. Now you have 200 employees, how many did you have before the retirements?

WTF?!

The answer is, "Enough to do the job."

MArk B.

• @Anonymouse said:

@Zemm said:

I'm a fan of coitus.
Coitus ergo cum?

FTFY

• @Weng said:

And people who use the term "sexual intercourse" outside a medical or legal setting don't have enough of it. There is no reason you need six syllables to do what one or two can. Hell, you even included the one-syllable version IN your six.

Sexual fucking intercourse? That would be TWO extra syllables.

• @Kittemon said:

@Weng said:

And people who use the term "sexual intercourse" outside a medical or legal setting don't have enough of it. There is no reason you need six syllables to do what one or two can. Hell, you even included the one-syllable version IN your six.

Sexual fucking intercourse? That would be TWO extra syllables.

If I had a million dollars? Two syllables at once, man.

• @Pascal said:

Landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth takes at least 139.50 tons of fuel.  How much fuel should be loaded?

A. 100 tons

B. 120 tons

C. 139 tons

D. 145 tons

If the software industry made rockets, they'd probably just ship the 100 ton version, promise NASA that they'd be able to figure out a workaround during the 3 days while the guys are on their way to the moon, and silently hope that once arrived, they might decide they don't even want to return to earth.

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