Posted Mar 17, 2005 by Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession
|While the entry does mention the use of graphology for recruitment purposes, it doesn't really discuss the ethical implications. I'd like to cover this from a skeptic's position, which means I will be less forgiving towards the field than the entry's original author.|
Let's say theoretically that graphology is 100% reliable. In this case, the results given to the employer can be said to correctly identify various personality traits of the job candidate.
Such tests usually analyze both work-related traits and more personal or emotional traits. Purveyors of graphology tests are generally happy to give full results rather than limiting results based on the job description. For those that don't, an employer may be able to bypass precautions by having an employee send in the test in the guise of a private individual.
Unfortunately, this may lead the employer to choose a candidate based on character traits that have no bearing on the job in question. For instance, the interviewer would probably not ask a young female candidate if she plans to have children. This would imply that they want to avoid hiring anyone who may take maternal leave. But they might seek a graphology test that purports to identify maternal tendencies. If the candidate turned down in this way later found out about this reasoning, they could sue the employer for gender discrimination.
If on the other hand graphology can yield incorrect results, the employer is receiving incorrect information some percent of the time. This means the company is to some extent making arbitrary judgments on candidates based on erroneous results. Why do this, when there are almost certainly measurable differences between candidates already?
Also, if companies come to rely on erroneous results, the repercussions get worse over time. For example, an employer might come to rely on tests that purport to identify trustworthiness. Thus, they might gradually loosen checks on their employees' work behavior. One of the employees trusted by nature of their test results might then embezzle from the company more easily.
Generally speaking, graphology testers will not offer to compensate a company for any financial loss related to erroneous test results. Even if they did, it would be hard to prove a cause and effect relationship. A court of law might easily find that since the test results themselves aren't accepted as scientifically accurate in a court of law, then the employer that relied on the results simply should have known better.
If I'm ever asked to take a graphology test or have reason to believe my handwriting is being sampled for that purpose, I intend to educate the employer about the potential pitfalls. If I'm not satisfied that the employer has decided not to test me, I'll refuse the position. The kind of place that uses such a test is not one where I want to work.
Posted Mar 18, 2005 by ammcie
This is a reply to this Posting
|Clearly, you are concerned about the implications of submitting a sample of your handwriting to an employer, lest they should test it and glean inaccurate information on your personality. This is, to some extent, an understandable concern. For you, your concern is valid enough to warrant a statement that 'The kind of place that uses such a test is not one where I want to work'.|
Unfortunately, you are likely to encounter many inaccurate judgements of your personality in the course of your life. People may judge your personality by your clothes, your accent, your friends, your car, your house etc. etc. As wearing no clothes and not speaking at an interview is likely to draw an entirely negative reaction, you will be obliged to put aside at least some of your concerns about inaccurate judgements of your personality. That is, of course, unless you are happy not to work at all.
The world we live in is full of such cursory judgements of others. Personally, my concerns about a detailed examination of my handwriting are far outweighed by my concern that an interviewer will deem me unsuitable because I don't 'look the part'.
Posted Mar 18, 2005 by Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession
This is a reply to this Posting
|To each their own, ammcie. I get an unsolicited job offer about every two weeks, so I doubt I'll have significant trouble finding employment regardless of whether I willingly submit to graphology tests.|
What I'm concerned about is:
A) Reliance upon junk science is indicative of poor judgmenet by management, in my opinion. If I have problems with management before the interview is even over, it's doubtful I'd enjoy working for them.
B) Even accurate test results might easily be used skirt laws that prevent discrimination based on gender, maternal status, etc. As a woman in a male-dominated field, I'm sensitive about such shenanigans.
C) Inaccurate test results could lead to longterm misunderstandings by the employer about who I am, creating an unhealthy work relationship where I'm unaware of the unspoken expectations held by management and therefore can't fulfill them. I prefer expectations be stated outright.
Interviewers do judge me based on my clothes, my accent, etc. This is in part a judgment on my willingness to present a professional image, which I consider part of the interview game. In this modern age of computers, handwriting is used by technical people like me mainly to sign contracts. It is therefore of little bearing on my workaday image.
If I feel I'm not being well regarded, I can change my personal appearance or my accent. In fact, I have done exactly that with both when moving cross country. However, graphology experts contend that my handwriting analysis will end up roughly the same regardless of how I try to modify my writing style. This makes it a very different prospect.
You seem to assume this would only bother me if I had something about my personality to hide. I submit that anyone with a rock solid work history like mine only has something to lose by taking such a flimsy excuse for a people sorter, while they have nothing to gain. Those most eager to take the tests, meanwhile, may be doing so in hopes that it will artificially cover whatever deficiencies are in their resume. So I think such tests naturally tend to drive off the most solid candidates.
Interviewers do not judge me on my friends, my car, or my house. They can't see those things and needn't be answered if they ask about them. It's frankly none of their business. And while they do make inaccurate judgments of my personality, they are at least aware that they may be doing so. Those who rely on graphology often have a rather annoying elitist opinion that they now know everything about the tested subject.
I think it's reasonable to want a certain line to be drawn between one's professional and private lives. Obviously, it's just my opinion. Your mileage may vary. If you believe taking a graphology test will help your chances and you like the idea of working for an employer that uses them to select you and your coworkers, more power to you.