Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Adventures in Job Searching

Today I participated in an activity that all too many Americans have participated in since the downturn of the economy - I took a qualifying exam for a job.

This was for a position in a public agency, and it was the kind of exam that uses a computer scan for grading; the old "fill in the bubble with a Number Two pencil" kind of exam.

There were over a hundred applicants. We all sat at tables in a big room, and as the test booklets were handed out, we were warned not to open the booklet until instructed.

Let's just say that the experience took me back to high school. There were questions about grammar and spelling, questions about logic, problem-solving questions, and - of course - math.

"Mr. Jones gets a monthly salary of $4,560. If he gets a 3.2% pay raise, what will his monthly salary be?" If his employer cuts his hours by 10%, what will his monthly salary be?"

 "If it takes a team of 7 people 9 days to do a job, how many days would it take a team of 3 people?" Ummmm.....I'm not even sure how to start figuring it out! Should I just pick one of the multiple-choice answers that seems right? Should I skip it and come back to it?

Moving on, I'm given a scenario of 8 workers who must be scheduled for shifts, and each worker has conditions that must be met - worker A can only work in the afternoon, worker B must share a shift with worker C, and worker C can only work on alternate Tuesdays. How many workers will be available on Thursday next?

Choose the sentence that contains a grammatical error. Read sentence A. Then choose a sentence that would restate it in a better way - including "d. none of the above."

There I was, staring at the bubbles on the test page, gripping my pencil, sweating and twisitng my feet together under the desk, writing on scratch paper (provided) and erasing furiously. I felt suddenly thirteen years old again.

The other applicants were all ages, all ethnicities. Some were dressed in suits and wore ties; others more casually. Some were very young, fresh out of college, and others were older, with graying hair. One man near me wore sagging jeans and a sweatshirt. Still, I glanced at him suspiciously. Was he better at math than I am?

Two and a half hours were set aside for the test, and I finished in about two hours. I went back and checked over my math questions - there were only 20 - and reworked the ones I was uncertain about. But, seriously, in today's workplace, who does math by hand?

When was the last time you were made to feel like you were back in high school?


smalltownme said...

I think I could do some of those math problems. 7x9=63. 63/3=21. 21 days.

I started a study guide for the CBEST...did about 12 questions and decided I did not want to be a substitute teacher after all.

Deborah said...

I had a computer skills test yesterday for an admin job, a downgrade but it would be doing work that I really do kind of enjoy, more peaceful, less dealing with lawyers.

Aced the keyboarding test (93 wpm, no errors), aced the document editing test on Word (100%), aced the math problems (100%), then choked on the Excel test.

I spent an inordinate amount of time on one question/formula I could not figure out instead of skipping it, allowing myself to get it wrong, and moving on. Because of this stupid move, I did not have enough time to finish and got a low score for the last segment of the test.

I was telling a friend of mine last night, good lord I'm 55 years old, when do I officially get over the school-days test anxiety? It's ridiculous.

Oh well, on to the next job application...

Aunt Snow said...

Ah, Deborah, would that I could have tested on Excel! No, they had us do all this math manually! Who has to do that anymore at work?

Deborah said...

Yes, at least these were computer driven tests, you're right no one does calculations by hand any more (unless they just love it or something). They even gave us a calculator for the math test!

I discovered that I rely too much on Excel help and was not able to do that. Guess it's time for a proper advanced software class, instead of going with this self-taught nonsense.

Janet said...

I don't understand doing the math manually, either. Stress for no reason!

cactus petunia said...

Oy. Whatever happened to live interviews?

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I fail to see how this test helps the employer choose the best employee.
I would have been in tears.

Frankly, this scares me about job hunting!