Thursday, April 2, 2015

Personality screenings and autistic job candidates

Cynthia M. Parkhill's Bitstrips comic avatar extends her hand to shake hands with another person who is shown from the partial back view. Nearby, three other people are shown on either side of her, also from  a partial back view. While her expression is one of smiling, two cartoon liquid drops of sweat depict the cartoon avatar's nervousness. The caption, centered in quotation marks, reads, 'You are unsure of what to say when you meet someone.'
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips
My primary purpose when creating Bitstrips cartoons is to illustrate blog posts and pages. When I found this image, among Bitstrips’ cartoons, it suggested a perfect illustration for my concern about personality screenings for job applicants.

I am concerned about personality screenings that gauge the applicant’s response to statements like:
  • “It’s fun to go out to events with big crowds.”
  • “You are unsure of what to say when you meet someone.”
  • “You do not like small talk.” and
  • “You are unsure of yourself with new people.”
So clearly do they mirror actual statements used in autism diagnostic screenings, that their purpose to me seems deliberately to flag characteristics associated with autism.

But there is no correlation between being uncomfortable with small talk in an unstructured social setting and being able to work from a professional script and say, “Hello, how may I help you?”

These questions do absolutely nothing to determine work attitudes and competencies. They simply skew job applicant pre-screenings in favor of candidates who can select the “preferred” answers.

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