The Hellish Job Search

I just got back from an Urban Institute briefing on the problem of long-term unemployment in America. For some reason I felt nauseous throughout the briefing. I am just now realizing that I must be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to my own long and difficult job search.

After deciding to move back to the US from working in Asia, I was surprised to discover how competitive and challenging it had become to find a job (though I shouldn’t have been surprised considering the Great Recession). The sheer number of interviews, aptitude tests, requested written strategies, and the overall length of the whole process was overwhelming. I am actually in disbelief that I finally found a job.

I feel a need to recount some of my experiences. Maybe they may give you comfort to know you’re not alone if you are currently looking for a job. Maybe they may make you laugh because some of the stuff I had to go through was quite unbelievable- like being sent to Senegal. And maybe they may provide you with encouragement to keep trying because the only thing I can be certain of is this– if you stop trying, you will never get a job.

So, here’s my first story with more to come:

I was interviewing with a large financial services company for a position within Community Relations. The interview process involved taking 2 timed tests that were emailed to me. Talk about stress. Especially since the DSL connection for my computer was going down periodically. And I was sure that excuses for not finishing the test on time were not allowed.

The first exam was one testing logic and involved writing and analysis. This, I was used to. However the second test was a math one. I was sure that they had made an error in requiring this test. Certainly if I was applying for a position in accounting or the audit department, this may have been necessary but for community relations, why? I think a calculator would have sufficed to add up any grant amounts that needed to be totaled.

Needless to say, my “logic” did not relieve me of this requirement. However, maybe I received extra points for the logic test! So, with much consternation, I clicked on the link to the practice math test. This conjured up memories of high school calculus (this was a long time ago!). I suppose I could have hired a math tutor or spent countless hours studying the practice site but I was damned if I was going to waste my time on something I considered totally unnecessary.

So, the day came for the actual test. I clicked on the math link and had 20 minutes to answer the 20 questions. To make a difficult assignment impossible, one of the possible answers for each question was “none of the above.” I thought this was not fair at all to have to figure out additionally if it was a trick question.

Well, I answered one question with a degree of certainty. I was able to answer another 4 questions (with no degree of certainty) before the time ran out. Who, I asked myself, decided that only 1 minute was enough for each question that contained complex formulas, graphs and charts.

Ugggh. I emailed the recruiter that I was certain I failed the math test. So, I was completely amazed when he called and told me that I had passed. Apparently jobs in Community Relations had a very low threshold for right answers. I am certain that some high priced consultancy firm designed this whole process. Ridiculous if you ask me!

What do you think?  Have you had to endure one of these ridiculous aptitude tests as part of a job interview?