Hiring Criteria, Writing Tests, and Drug Tests

Subject: Hiring Criteria, Writing Tests, and Drug Tests
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 12:39:05 -0700

1. Testing, not samples, is important.

Back in the early 1980s, I had the misfortune to hire a retired Professor Emritus of Computer Science at a company that developed military command control communications systems. His resume, including reams of published papers in academic journals, was most impressive, and during the job interview, he seemed to know his stuff. I thought I had enough, and decided a test wasn't appropriate, since he'd probably feel insulted If I asked him to take it.

On his first day of work, I gave him an assignment that required him, among other things, to copy some files which he was to use as source data. After about an hour, he came to me and asked how to copy the files. I told him to use the DOS copy command. He admitted he didn't know how to use it. Patiently, I went through the process at his computer, explaining each step, and showed him how to use the DOS help capability and the DOS manual to get all the information he needed. 15 minutes later, he was back. He stilll couldn't do it. Resisting temptation, I copied the files for him, opened one of the files in WordPerfect, and explained again what I wanted him to do with it. At the end of the day, I asked him to print out what he had done so I could review it. It was terrible. The man simply couldn't write. I terminated him on the spot.

Probably, most of his published papers had been written by others. When an interviewee shows you a portfolio, there's no way of verifying whether the person really wrote the stuff, and if (s)he did, how long it took and how much editing and massaging by others was needed to put it in the form you're looking at.

2. Drug tests and other invasions of privacy are a byproduct of out litigious times.

More and more, companies must assume a defensive posture to protect against lawsuits and claims of unfair labor practices. Companies frequently get sued for the acts of their employees. Selectively testing only employees whose performance might be directly affected by drugs could be viewed as discriminatory. Suppose, for instance, an employee under the influence drives a company car, or even a car rented by the company. If the employee has an accident, injures someone, and tests positive for drugs, the company is going to be sued for failing to ascertain that the employee was a user. Terminate or lay off an employee, and there's a good chance the company will face litigation.

We as a society tolerate this excessively litigious environment, where corporations are regarded as deep-pocket targets even when the basis of liability is absurdly weak and convoluted. Then, we are shocked by the consequences when, to protect themselves, companies take defensive steps that impact us. What did you expect, that companies would just lie there and take it? Litigation is of control, and tort reform is essential else it will continue to spiral out of control, and employer-employee relationships will become increasingly intolerable.

| Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory -at- primenet -dot- com
10044 Adams Ave. #208, Huntington Beach, CA 92646
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