Tailoring Questions

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2004-08-27 Print this article Print

Scarborough stresses that his questionnaires—which can house 100 to 300 questions for an applicant to fill out in one sitting—are designed for the audience being tested. Often, answers that would rank poorly for a customer-service applicant might rank well for a senior manager. Persuasive abilities, for example, are great for executives, but are not as desirable in someone who is supposed to be listening to customers all day. The psychologist tells of one executive who complained that the test was worthless because he personally took it and failed. Scarborough countered that the test was not intended to evaluate someone at his level. (Hes good. I would have been too tempted to have told the exec that the test was fine, but that he shouldnt tell too many people that he failed. If nothing else, it would have driven the exec crazy.) To read about why companies that dont invest in security dont deserve your business, click here.
The tests also throw in some truth-detecting questions, such as asking them whether the following is true: "I have never gotten angry with anyone."
Sometimes, Scarborough said, retail job applicants dont even read the questions, they simply start answering everything randomly. Why? Those applicants may not truly want the job, but need to apply for the job to satisfy a regulation, such as for unemployment benefits or a parole requirement. This all dances around the core question: Can retailers truly use test questions to eliminate or sharply reduce the number of thieves on the payroll? Can they indeed reduce shrinkage with a shrink? Although there certainly are exceptions, most retail employees do not start as thieves looking for a victim. For many, its the chore of inventory and handling cash registers that puts temptations in front of them. Couple that with a low salary and little if any feeling of ownership, and you have theft waiting to happen. Check out eWEEK.coms Retail Center for the latest news, views and analysis of this vital industry.

Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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