From the Blog

Despite Overwhelming Odds, I Passed My Personality Test

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About five months ago, I was new to Portland, I didn’t know anyone, and didn’t have a job or an apartment. I was staying in a scary motel known for drug deals and murders, and was using free wifi at coffee shops. It took about a week to get an apartment and about a month to get a job.

I was understandably antsy about getting a job as soon as possible. I had been slightly bamboozled by one of the temp agencies I signed up with. They had assured me before I moved to Portland in December, that with my skill set, I would certainly be able to get the salary I was asking for. Plus, they were having a hard time filling all the positions they had open! So many jobs! So funny that when I arrived in town, they never called me. And, oh, the type of job I was looking for doesn’t pay as much as I wanted in Portland. Awesome.

So the job process took longer than expected. I was actually beginning to wonder if I would need to explore my fall-back options. These were the options I soothed my friends and family with when I moved to a new city. First, I’m sort of an accountant, so people always need other people to count their money. Second, I could wait on tables or work in a coffee shop. Third, I could be a hooker. They sent me off to Portland knowing I was well-prepared.

In addition to signing up with half a dozen temp agencies, I was interviewing for a couple direct-hire positions. I went through a series of interviews and meetings before I got my current job. I think it took at least 2 or 3 phone interviews (one while I was still in Hawaii) and four meetings. Every phone call I got from them, I was expecting an offer. But instead, it was a request for another meeting. I was eying the calendar and formulating how I was going to pay rent. I was pretty sure they were going to offer me the job, and everything was looking good, but they wouldn’t hire me until I took a personality test.

Great. I was going to be ready for NASA by the time this interview process was over. I was sent a link and a password and began the whole personality test process. But it didn’t seem to work all that well. I didn’t even finish the name and address part before I realized this personality test was broken. Dammit. I needed to finish this damn test! I hadn’t even gotten to the questions about when I lived in the basement for 5 years!

I had gotten through enough of the screens to wonder if it was a compatibility issue, since I use a Mac. Or more horrifying, all the restarting and stalling and reloading was PART OF THE TEST. Are they testing my patience? Are they tracking the fact that I can’t even put in my damn name after 15 minutes of struggle?

I needed to finish this fricken test! I packed up and ran over to Kinko’s, where I might be able to do the test on their godforsaken Windows machines. And this is where I need veer off and tell a little side story.

I, um, dislike having to touch things other people have touched. I’m not OCD, (I’m NOT!), but I just don’t like having to put my hands on things in public places. It’s yucky. And it’s mostly because you don’t know what other people have been doing with their hands. Or more disgustingly, you DO know what people have been doing with their hands.

And this may come as a shock, or a surprise, or in the very least somewhat petty, but I have known a few people (men), who not only NOT WASH THEIR HANDS AFTER USING THE REST ROOM, but vigorously defend this behavior as “no big deal.” I’m usually speechless against this. It turns my stomach. How do you not wash your hands? And it’s not just cro magnon mouth breathers. It’s more common than you might think. My sister sits right next to the restroom at her ultra-hip Hollywood job, and I get at least three “poop report” emails from her everyday.

I had a discussion with someone who “didn’t think it was a big deal” to not wash his hands after using the restroom. And I explained, if everyone did this, touching the restroom door knob is now like touching another man’s penis. Is that what he wants? It’s like he’s giving another guy a hand job. And if he accidentally slipped and fell, and the knob ended up in his mouth, it’s like giving another man a blow job. Is that what he wants?

Okay? So computer keyboards are supposed to be WORSE for germs than a bathroom doorknob. And I can only imagine the unspeakable things lingering on the keyboards at Kinkos.

But I needed to finish this mother-f-ing goddamned personality test! I get to Kinko’s, plug in my credit card, and as gingerly as I can, log into the machine to restart the test. And to my relief, the test seems to work fine on the Windows machine.

And it’s only then, that it dawns on me that they are testing my “personality.” What the hell are they looking for? I mean, they aren’t going to offer me the job until they see what the test says. Would they get the results of my personality test and say, “Um, no thanks.”?

And I also realize, sitting there at Kinko’s, in a public place, surrounded by strangers, I have to answer very personal questions, with a giant 20 inch monitor, like, the size of a theater screen. And so I peer around the large, open room and try to puff up to cover the screen as best I can.

I was able to get through the test fairly quickly. Most questions were fairly normal personality stuff. But some of the questions were awful! “In order to save many people on a lifeboat, would you throw an old woman or a child overboard?” “Is it worse to cheat or to steal?” “If you had to, would you kill your mother or your father?” Come on! I’m at fricken Kinko’s! If someone were to look at my screen, they could safely assume I was filling out an application for the Taliban.

I guess they can glean some insight from what you choose as the lesser of two evils. I didn’t have time to do any sort of premeditation or second guessing. I just got through the test as quickly as possible. I finished up, cleared the browser history, logged off and washed my hands thoroughly. They got my personality with both barrels.

I did get the job.


  1. Meredith says

    I know of at least 3 people who don’t wash their hands at my work, and when the topic of not washing hands comes up, they say the ever defense, “I don’t pee on my hands.” Thank you, I figured. But you’re touching your genitals!! To put it another way, you’re touching your reproductive organs!! Yeah!! Now pick up that hamburger and eat away, you germ infested pig!

  2. You should ask for the results of the test – and then report to all of us.

  3. You think a personality test is bad, I had to take a physical to get this job. Nothing like getting your nuts felt up to get even more nervous about getting the job.

    I wonder if the doctor washed his hands after touching *my* genitals…

  4. I had to take a physical once too, for a web development job. You know, because coding HTML might bring on a hernia. Or something.

    Never had to take a personality test though. It does make you wonder what type of result would disqualify you for the position . . .

  5. So was the person waiting to use the Kinkos machine next wondering if you washed your hands BEFORE you used it?

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