Breaking: You Should Always Tell Your Employer That You’re an Honest Person

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The Wall Street Journal reports that more and more companies are turning to software to make hiring decisions for them, rather than using human interviewers:

It isn’t just big companies that are turning to software for hiring help. Richfield Management LLC, a Flint, Mich., waste-disposal firm that employs 200 garbage collectors, was looking for ways to screen out applicants who were likely to get hurt and abuse workers’ compensation.

About a year and a half ago, Richfield turned to an online test developed by a small firm called Exemplar Research Group. It asks applicants to pick between statements like “When I’m working for a company I take pride in making it as profitable as possible” and “I’m only concerned with how well I can do financially in my job,” then rate how strongly they agree or disagree.

The goal is to gauge an applicant’s emotional stability, work ethic and attitude toward drug and alcohol. Those who score poorly are considered high disability risks. Richfield said its workers’ comp claims have fallen 68% since it has used the test.

Honestly, this just seems like an IQ test to me. Do I take pride in making my company as profitable as possible? Yes sir, I sure do! Do I consider myself a clock watcher? No sir, I sure don’t! If you can’t figure out that these are the right answers, you might not be bright enough even to be a garbage collector.

Of course, these tests might be trickier than I think. Retail outlets ask questions that test for honesty, and according to one retailer who uses software to screen new clerks, “People who are trying to fool the system are going to get tripped up.” Maybe so.

On a more policy-centric note, if this kind of thing becomes genuinely widespread, I wonder if it will create a new class of the permanently jobless. It’s a law of nature that there will always be a certain number of people who just don’t have good temperaments. Still, even if you’re basically a lousy worker — unreliable, quick-tempered, etc. — you can still find jobs here and there since human interviewers won’t always figure this out. But if screening software becomes hard to beat (especially among those who aren’t too bright), then lousy workers will simply never be able to find jobs. They’ll be turned down every time. So then what happens?

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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