JC Penney's Computer Won't Let It Hire me

A reader writes in about her frustrating experiences trying to get hired at a JC Penney salon. She spoke to her prospective boss and got the impression that she would be good to go, but the automated application system keeps throwing her curveballs.

She describes her roundabout journey:

1. Applied online. Answered lot of strange questions, but I answered them honestly.

2. Went in to salon with resume and spoke with the salon manager. He stated had not received my online application please check on it and call him. I need someone and you seem to be a good fit for the job. “You look like and seem to be the type of person I am looking for”.

3. Go back online a try to re apply. System tells me I can’t apply for 173 days.

4. Call JCP salon manager Still could not see my online application. Asked me to
come into the kiosk and apply again. ( This kiosk is just outside the door of the salon). At the end once again it told me you must wait a total of 171 days to apply again! Salon manager talked to someone in back office. ” You failed our online test!

You can not retake this test for 171 days! Not only can you not work at the salon, you can’t work anywhere for JCP!” What? Am I an idiot? I did not think this to be the case but, computers don’t make mistakes…right? Still confused!!! The salon manager went above and beyond to try to help. He next went to the store manager who said “sorry I used to be able to override this but they took that away from us.” You might try contacting the home office in WACO TEXAS. He meant for me to check with Waco, not the JCP store.

This is insane! Clearly the salon manager wanted to offer me a position. But, I am done in by some crazy HR program which apparently has pegged me as what? An idiot, a serial killer, too smart to work for JCP etc…..

I checked online, too late for me, and found blogs on how to pass these online tests…. the main point “don’t be honest, tell them what they want to hear!” One of the sites was written by the person who either created or helped create the test!

Help, I am stuck in computer lunacy! Guess I could just sign up for welfare….or does that have a test also?

If a computer has ever blocked you from working somewhere, tell us about your battle.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Hoboman725 says:

    This is a pretty common problem, I had the same issue several years back with a Staples which wanted to hire me, but according to the auto-test I wasn’t social enough. You really do need to lie on these things.

    • Michaela says:

      These tests are all about what the employer wants in an employee personality-wise, so I don’t see it as lying. Instead, I just show them that I know how they would want me to react to particular situations. I know I can put on that persona for my job, and then be me after hours.

    • TheUncleBob says:

      Lying on these things is a horrible idea. If you answer honestly and the computer rejects you, it obviously means you’re not a fit for the job. If you lie with your answers, you may get hired in, but you’re either not going to last very long or you’re going to be wildly unhappy the majority of your time there.

      These “tests” may seem like a bunch of bullcrap, but they’re pretty decent and do have a pretty wide margin of error in favor of the applicant where if the applicant is borderline, the management/HR team should be able to make that decision during the interview process.

      • nonsane says:

        if you lie, then at least they know you can pretend to be who they want you to be. Which honestly, who acts like themselves when working/dealing with a customer 100% of the time?

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        No, lying on these is a great idea. Some of these ask you if you’d turn in a family member if you found them stealing a $10 item. If you say no, your application is automatically rejected – and they even twist it to make it a moral argument. You didn’t stand by your principles.

      • chaquesuivant says:

        Makes me think of this:

      • Chaosium says:

        “Lying on these things is a horrible idea. If you answer honestly and the computer rejects you, it obviously means you’re not a fit for the job. If you lie with your answers, you may get hired in, but you’re either not going to last very long or you’re going to be wildly unhappy the majority of your time there.

        These “tests” may seem like a bunch of bullcrap, but they’re pretty decent and do have a pretty wide margin of error in favor of the applicant where if the applicant is borderline, the management/HR team should be able to make that decision during the interview process.”

        Pretty much everything about this is wrong. If you want the job, lie. If you don’t, don’t apply. “Personality tests” are pseudoscience, plain and simple.

  2. guymandude says:

    Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Do you really want to work for people that are too stupid to know when to listen to a machine and when not to?

    • MeowMaximus says:

      I agree 100%! These people are idiots, and you will no doubt do better someplace else.

      • tooluser says:

        Yes indeed.

        Or did you *want* to be a corporate tool?

        • joescratch says:

          Going out on a limb here, but the OP probably doesn’t want to be a corporate tool. She probably wants to be a stylist and/or find a job that will reward her time and labor with popular, spendable cash!

        • joescratch says:

          Going out on a limb here, but the OP probably doesn’t want to be a corporate tool. She probably wants to be a stylist and/or find a job that will reward her time and labor with popular, spendable cash!

    • heldc says:

      You mean “Do you really want to be able to pay your rent and buy food”? I’m gonna guess the answer is “yes, holy goddess yes!”.

      • guymandude says:

        No. I mean do you really want to work for people that brainless. Unless JCP has all of a sudden become the only place in the cosmos to work.. the OP has other options. I’m so sorry I’m not worthy of your sense of grandeur.

        • Bob says:

          Believe it or not in some places in this country the answer is “yes”. For her JCPenneys may have been the only place that would hire her soon enough for her to earn enough money to live on this month and until the economy improves in about 5 years, give or take 50 years.

  3. ellmar says:

    I would not want to work for a company that does things this way.

    • SimonGodOfHairdos says:

      I wouldn’t either, but there are always times when we don’t have the luxury of making a job-related choice based on our convictions.

    • Coalpepper says:

      The way things are going, you won’t have much choice, its becoming the standard thing, stupid and disgusting as it is.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    “Applied online. Answered lot of strange questions, but I answered them honestly”

    Thats the problem, she answered them honestly.

    When they ask the question: How much did you steal from your last employer without getting caught, you shouldn’t pick D). More than $50,000.

    • sufreak says:

      D’oh! Theres the mistake.

    • Mom says:

      The question is more like this:

      You find out that a coworker has been stealing blocks of cheese to feed their starving family for the past month. Would you:

      a) a talk to them about it
      b) do nothing, because I work in the hair salon and don’t really care about cheese
      c) rat them out to their boss

      The correct answer for the test is clearly c, but the honest, real world answer is probably not c.

      • wrongfrequently says:

        See my comment below, the questions aren’t even close to being as clear as your example. They are designed to find people who would make good corporate cogs, I say this as a former Target manager. It’s really an awful practice most big companies use for their bottom tier employees, I’d be amazed if the CEOs could pass the tests.

        • aka Cat says:

          Why? I bet a lot of CEOs are great at lying.

          • wrongfrequently says:

            I’m super sure they are, but again it’s not about honesty it’s about compliant workers bees. Workers who don’t question, workers who don’t organize (as in unions, class-action suits etc) It’s about a “yes man” culture.

        • chaquesuivant says:

          These tests are also used as an end-run around the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, people with Asperger Syndrome are more likely to have a certain answer profile than others. Actually, supposedly even people with certain physical disorders are too.

          • Chaosium says:

            I think you’re reading too much in. They do screen out antisocial introverts who aren’t good at customer-facing positions, but they’re not singling out autistics.

      • Liam Kinkaid says:

        I would rat them out, but not to the store. I would tell child protective services. That 100% cheese diet is very unhealthy. They should be stealing some healthier food for their family.

      • DoubleBaconVeggieBurger says:

        d) I’m a rat, I’d steal the cheese back from them?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        The correct answer is “mmm cheese.”

      • tooluser says:

        I would point them in the direction of the massive government cheese caves that were recently discovered by the Wall Street Journal.

  5. Matzoball says:

    Common sense says you should never admit to covering up theft by yourself or a friend. If you are willing to steal or hid someone else’s theft you are a risk and the employer has the right to rescind an offer.

    This might imply that the OP is a thief. I do not know the OP and I assume they are not a willing participant in theft or covering up someone else’s theft. This is just an example of what common sense should tell you when taking these personality tests prior to employment.

    But if you have to resort to using google to pass a test of this nature you should seriously consider adjusting your moral compass. Too many people including myself at times make decisions based on this is what everyone else does. Yeah that’s right I am not perfect either.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Have you taken one of these? The questions aren’t really black and white like “have you ever stolen?” – they’re much more vague, and sometimes the way the question looks is not exactly what the company is looking for – it’s hard to explain how companies frame these kinds of tests.

      • ARP says:

        I’ve taken different versions of this test many times and the answers are as follows:

        1) Never admit to stealing, borrowing, bending or breaking any rules, coming back late from break, punching in/out early or late, punching in/out for anyone. You’re perfect.

        2) You will immediately report anyone who does any of these things, no matter what.

        Yes, everyone knows its a lie, and you’d think they’d call people out for cheating, but that’s how you pass. It’s not like psych exams where they have tests to try to see if you’re gaming the system.

        • FerretGirl says:

          However, you can’t toe the line too severely because then it thinks you’re lying and rejects you for that. I tried to work for Blockbuster when I was a kid in Christian school and was genuinely a goody two shoes. The test rejected me for that. lol.

          • Chaosium says:

            “However, you can’t toe the line too severely because then it thinks you’re lying and rejects you for that.”

            I worked for Bennigans and helped administer the same test, watched a bunch of people fail. What you say is absolutely not true. It wants PERFECT candidates. Tell them everything they want to hear. Toe the line 100%.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I’ve never taken a test like that, could you post an example?

        • Daggertrout says:

          This is my personal favorite:

          “It’s maddening when courts let criminals go free! Agree/disagree on a four point scale.”

    • Leksi Wit says:

      How do you know it was about stealing? And not something weird like the OP states? …

    • LadyTL says:

      It’s much easier to fail on the socializing part of those tests by answering honestly than the stealing stuff. There is a ton of questions on how well you tolerate coworkers.

    • Matzoball says:

      I was trying my best not to come off like a complete ass. Yes I understand that these are not easy to take. I do think the more common sense you have the easier they are to take. And I have never given any thought to the social component. But I totally doubt the OP failed on something as simple as stealing. The social argument is actually interesting.

      For the record I have passed these tests before but than I failed a simple physical because while I could easily lift 40 lbs over my head my pulse was to fast and as a result I didn’t get that job.

      • greggen says:

        You are coming off like a complete ass.. You did not take the test the OP took, have no business commenting on it, claiming it takes common sense answers.
        My GF took a test repeatedly for a grocery store, so did her employment coach and several others. All failed. The retarded thing was that the test allowed for retests, so they were able to, after many attempts, able to figure out what the employer was looking for, but there was nothing ‘common sense’ about the ‘right’ answers..

        • Earl42 says:

          Perhaps it was a cognition test. Are you intelligent enough to deduce the correct answers after taking in numerous times? etc…

    • mrscoach says:

      I took that stupid test, and you allmost have to have help to pass. A couple of the questions were about things that were probably in the company handbook/policy. How the F should I know what that says? I. Don’t. Work. There. Yet.!!

      I remember one question asking about what you should do with an upset customer. Some of the answers were things like: apologize politely, ask another employee what to do, contact a supervisor, and a couple more choices.

      There were also questions about if you like to work in groups, or if you like working alone.

  6. XTC46 says:

    Its a personality test. We use them to screen candidates, as has several other companies I have worked for (typically in the retail sector, my current company started using it becasue we started going through a hiring agency)

    Basically, its a corporate thing. If the test says no, then the hiring manager probabaly cant hire you without special permission. I dont put much faith in those tests though. I took one as the baseline for the company I currently workfor, while the test is 100 accurate based on the answers given, it is easy to lie on. I have taken several tests in the past and have always gotten the job becasue I just lied through it. On this one, I was honest and it said I am a highly motivated and driven person but am not friendly, nor am I approachable, etc. Basically, hard worker, not a people person. This is 100 percent true, and would have excluded me from any retail postion ever had I been honest on the test in the past.

    In my opinon, me being able to fake out the test means i can probabaly lie my way through customer interaction if I wanted to, and i have proven this to be true as well. I can fake caring about what people are saying if I choose to.

    • mythago says:

      How can the tests be “100 percent accurate”?

      • kc2idf says:

        Because if you can fake your way through it, then you can fake caring about the customer when handling customer service issues. Didn’t you read before hitting reply?

    • PLATTWORX says:

      I have to agree. I used used such tests in the hiring process and found they told me to NOT hire some people who have been outstanding employees when I went with my gut and ignored the test. They really should only be used as one piece of the overall picture.

  7. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Online applications have taken many qualified prospective hires out of the running. Some tests ask just the stupidest questions you can imagine.

    WTF do they need my social security number online? If I pass your stinking test, THEN request my SS#.

    • spongebue says:

      They probably ask for the SSN so that nobody can retake the test pretending to be a different person before they should be able to.

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        Is there no other way to do it but SS number?

        “Don’t give your SS # online” is one of the basic rules of internet security.

        • TheWraithL98 says:

          as someone who works in web development and once wrote a job application suite, the short answer is no.

          we used SSN as the unique identifier for a person, and a number of our customers contacted us to change it to email address or any number of things, and when we explained to the customer that they would need to deal with the duplicate applications in the system, 100 times out of 100, they decided to keep SSN.

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

        I’m sure that is the reason. I had the opportunity to have nearly unlimited number of SSN’s but at the time thought, “Why would I need it”. So now I only have one spare.

    • Pinkbox says:

      What annoys me is that they’ll ask you for your social a good 5+ times during the same questionnaire too. Ugh, redundancy.

  8. Doubts42 says:

    She took a computer generated personality test and failed. I hate those things, but in this case it weeded out someone to dumb to figure out what was going on, so it did it’s job.

    • ellmar says:

      Sorry, she was “too” dumb, not “to” dumb. How high does your I.Q. have to be to work at a JC Penney’s hair salon?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But it isn’t an IQ test. It’s most likely a test to gauge customer service traits the company finds important. If the OP came off as overly introverted, overly extroverted, or excessively something else. These tests, IMO, have very little to do with IQ or competency.

        • ellmar says:

          Thank you. I agree that IQ is not what these tests gauge, unless we are talking about applicants being intuitive enough to tailor answers in order to pass the assessment. That would take a certain type of intelligence.

    • iggy21 says:


    • obits3 says:

      Using a computer to test people skills is great because we all know how good computers are at customer service! I can’t wait for my next phone tree adventure =) /sarc

  9. pop top says:

    These dumb personality tests have become very common for companies to use so that they don’t have to use much thought in their hiring practices. It’s too bad that the company had the ability to override the system but is now unable to. I don’t know what companies would take away hiring power from their local stores when the people working there would have a better idea of who would work well than a computer.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “…don’t have to use much thought…”

      I think they use them for a combination of factors. It’s a way of filtering through thousands of very similar applications. It’s also an objective means (however flawed) of rating prospects and by minimizing subjectivity of reviewers, they also minimize potential EEOC issues.

  10. alisha.hime says:

    Ironically, Best Buy does the same thing. I worked with them last year after passing the online screening. I went back to apply for seasonal, and there was a new, shorter, version. I failed it, even though I played the ‘right’ cards by answering everything right. And sadly, they cannot override it because it tosses the applications in the ‘no’ pile.

    • Hoot says:

      They can probably tell you’re faking if you pick all the right answers. Have to mix it up a bit and pick some of the moderately good answers, except on things like theft and sexual harassment.

      • ARP says:

        My experience is that you can’t be too perfect on these tests but maybe they’ve changed since I’ve done them (late 90’s).

      • Chaosium says:

        “They can probably tell you’re faking if you pick all the right answers.”
        No, they can’t.

        “Have to mix it up a bit and pick some of the moderately good answers, “
        No, you shouldn’t.

    • roguemarvel says:

      I wish they would just tell you failed. I applied to Best Buy and then showed up for onsite interviews and then waited two hours to be called into a back room and told that I didn’t pass the stupid test. I was livid. I even told the little punk teenage hiring manager (yes they were 19 year old hiring managers!) that it was absurd. Glad I didn’t get hired there

    • uber_mensch says:

      You mean ‘coincidentally’ not ‘ironic’.

      the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.

      a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance.

  11. Hoot says:

    In most cases, you can tell what they’re looking for. Lie and get hired.

    • thewildboo says:

      This was my downfall. I thought for sure they were checking to see if you were honest, and that answering the ‘perfect” answer to all of the questions would peg me as a liar/weasel and I’d fail. Whoops.

  12. iggy21 says:

    most of those questions a simple test that see if your the type of person that will represent the company well (do you have the social skills/reasoning to not give the company a bad name). Of course everyone wants to tell a snarky customer to go to hell, but if you answer that question honestly in those tests, you wont have much luck passing.

    my opinion: the OP needs to accept that her views/attitudes werent inline with JCP. (and if youre not smart enough to recognize what they are looking for by the questions on the test, maybe you shouldnt be working there).

  13. cash_da_pibble says:

    From what I’ve been told- tell them what they want, and don’t be wishy-washy.
    Extreme YES or extreme NO, and be the perfect employee- never steal, never late, never sick.

  14. borgia says:

    You always know to worry when taking these tests once you see something along the lines of, “even if no answer seems right choose the one that is closest to right”. The fact that you have to choose an answer for a question like

    I hurt small animals
    A. only at night
    B. Three times a week
    C. every day
    D. once every two weeks

    has always seemed absurd. I understand that they are trying to filter the applicants but I don’t think the tests do a good job.

    • shanoaravendare says:

      My dad always referred to this type of question as Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or No.

  15. Beagler says:

    You do realize that “failing” means that you said that you would, or have stolen something, or that you would (ever) or have hit or yelled at someone? Would you tell a potential employer either of those things in an interview? The test is there because those are awkward questions, and if you failed it’s not because you aren’t “social” enough. It’s because you are not the kind of person that a company would want to hire.

    • Beagler says:

      Also, don’t you watch House? Everybody lies. Except you, apparently.

    • Mom says:

      Not necessarily. I failed one of those tests once because the I gave an incorrect answer to a hypothetical question where they wanted me to say I’d rat out a stealing coworker. The honest answer to that question, for me, anyway, is that it depends on the situation. The answer they want is a 100% definitive ratting out.

      I was in high school at the time, and it’s probably for the best that I didn’t get the job at KFC. The experience was good, though, because I had the same test a couple of years later for a job I actually wanted, and I passed it with flying colors the second time around.

    • thewildboo says:

      That’s interesting, because I once lost out on a job the one time I had to take one of these (and failed), and yet every other employer I’ve worked with has loved me and begged me to stay when I left.

    • Clobberella says:

      No, it depends on what type of test you are taking. I think you’re thinking of an integrity test; a passing score on a personality test is heavily dependent upon how social the test thinks you are (especially if you’re applying in retail). A good third or more of the questions on those types of test are generally going to be ones like: I like to be in the middle of large crowds (agree or disagree); I am always the life of the party; I prefer to work in a team rather than by myself; etc.

  16. DanRydell says:

    “too smart to work for JCP”

    That is definitely not her problem.

  17. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    This makes me believe there is a new term: Liered.

    It’s when you have to lie on a survey/test in order to get hired.

  18. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    It’s a test of your internet pressence. Tech savvy people would have looked up how to pass before taking the exam.

  19. TheGreySpectre says:

    When I was in school and getting entry level work a lot of jobs had these. My experience was that for the most part they were just 50 different versions of “is it okay to steal from your employer and be rude to customers” I always thought they were really easy to answer.

  20. sirjorge says:

    even if you answer correctly, they still might not even know about it. I went to an interview at macy’s and the manager didn’t even know i was scheduled, and the “test” results weren’t even forwarded to him. needless to say i didn’t get the job, even though the computer said they were hiring, he wasn’t hiring, or so he said. I live in a town where 90% of the jobs require an online screening test, and despite taking all the tests several times in the last 2 yeas, i’ve yet to land ANY job….i hate this city…moscow idaho sucks

  21. wrongfrequently says:

    I took the Best Buy test and passed for cashier but failed for manager. My Dad failed, my Mom failed, my husband failed, the manager at BB who was trying to hire me (for management) also failed. Finally my bff took it for me and passed.

    here are but a few of the 100 questions. You are to answer strongly disagree, disagree, agree or strongly agree.

    You love to listen to people talk about themselves
    You make more sensible choices than careless ones
    You rarely act without thinking
    You think of yourself as being very sensible
    You try to sense what others are thinking and feeling
    You were absent very few days from high school
    You work best at a slow but steady speed

    You would rather work on a team than by yourself


    Your friends and family approve of the things you do
    Your moods are steady from day to day
    It bothers you a long time when someone is unfair to you
    It bothers you when you have to obey a lot of rules
    It is hard to really care about work when the job is boring
    Many people cannot be trusted
    Other people’s feelings are their own business


    People are often mean to you


    People do a lot of annoying things
    People do a lot of things that make you angry
    People who talk all the time are annoying
    People’s feelings are sometimes hurt by what you say
    Right now, you care more about having fun than being serious at school or work
    Slow people make you impatient
    There are some people you really can’t stand
    There’s no use having close friends; they always let you down
    When people make mistakes, you correct them
    When you are annoyed with something, you say so
    When you need to, you take it easy at work
    You are a fairly private person
    You are more relaxed than strict about finishing things on time
    You are not afraid to tell someone off
    You are not interested in your friends’ problems
    You are unsure of what to say when you meet someone
    You are unsure of yourself with new people
    You change from felling happy to sad without any reason
    You could not deal with difficult people all day
    You criticize people when they deserve it
    You do not like small talk
    You do not like to meet new people
    You do not like to take orders
    You do some things that upset people
    You do what you want, no matter what others think
    You don’t act polite when you don’t want to
    You don’t believe a lot of what people say
    You don’t care if you offend people
    You don’t care what people think of you
    you don’t work hard because it doesn’t pay off anyway
    You don’t worry about making a good impression
    You get angry more often that nervous

    These test diagnose people with a computer program. Judging by those who pass, I’m happy to be in the non-passing category.

    • swarrior216 says:

      Those are the same exact questions that Albertsons Grocery Store has. I applied for a stocker. Haven’t heard anything back yet.

    • roguemarvel says:

      Someone told me you have to strongly agree or disagree on everything, they don’t like people who answer in the middle because it means they don’t have conviction or some BS like that

    • Griking says:

      Its kind of funny how so many people that fail later say that they’re glad they failed. If you really didn’t want the job then you wouldn’t have applied in the first place.

      • onlyme says:

        Wrong. Perhaps I wanted the job, but didn’t want it once I realise what they wanted.
        Getting a job is a two way street. You should fit them and they should fit you. I may think I like the employer, but when they start asking me if I smoke at home, I know there is going to be a problem.

  22. borgia says:

    From a statistics view you could even argue that these tests hurt. The talented theives and sociopaths will know the correct answers to the questions. If you have a 1/3 distribution each of either 1. good employees, 2. talented thieves and sociopaths, and 3. poor liars and thieves and don’t screen you would end up with 40% good and 60% bad of mixed talent employees. Whereas if you screen, you could end up with 50% good and 50% talented thieves and sociopaths and I think the 50/50 mix would cause more damage since the problem employees and thieves would be harder to spot

    • iggy21 says:

      replace ‘talented thieves’ with ‘common sense individuals’, and you make a good point.

      It doesn’t take ‘talent’ to realize that they wont hire someone who admits to stealing, not caring, and other workplace faux paus.

  23. Keter says:

    I have over 30 years of experience working in jobs that require high levels of technical competency, literacy, and management ability. The last 10 years have been with Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies. But layoffs happened several times, and now when I try to apply for positions with several contracting agencies, I am automatically rejected because I don’t have a college degree. Forget the years of experience working with people with Master’s degrees and Ph.Ds and no one being able to detect that I didn’t have that meaningless piece of paper.

    I also tried to get a PMP certification, and was told that with all of my years of experience as a manager, some at pretty high levels, I should be a shoo in. Not so. Because I had no degree, they required 6 years of management experience out of the last 7 years; graduates were only required to have 4 years. After the dot-bomb bust, my area was struck particularly hard, and I was out of a job (“overqualified”) for 14 months, and then had to take nonmanagerial contract work for another year while the economy recovered. So I had only 5 of 7 years, and I wasted the $800 I spent on the PMP course. I’m more qualified and experienced BY FAR than many PMPs I’ve had to work with, but I can’t have that piece of paper either.

    I went out and started my own business and to H.E.doublehockeysticks with employers.

    • yusefyk says:

      “Forget the years of experience working with people with Master’s degrees and Ph.Ds and no one being able to detect that I didn’t have that meaningless piece of paper.”

      Well really it does not seem so meaningless anymore does it?

  24. hymie! says:

    computers don’t make mistakes…right?

    I don’t consider Consumerist to be a “humor” site, but this was the best laugh I’ve had all day.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      I’ve always been of the mind that Computers Don’t Make Mistakes, it’s the information put INTO the computers that make the mistakes.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      I actually saw a verifiable computer make a mistake once. Suspect a gamma ray hit one of the memory cells. I had programmed the computer to print out a specific string 33 times, about the seventh time, it twiddled a bit for the remainder of outputs. This same program + computer + printer had run the same program for years and this only happened once.

  25. AT203 says:

    A friend was once presented with a phone test. This was many yeas ago, so the test is likely more sophisticated now. She typed in a bogus SSN, took the test once, and then with the questions in hand, she took it a second time with her actual SSN. (The back-end obviously was using SSNs to allow the store managers to retrieve results.)

  26. rushevents says:

    Speaking from the HR manager perspective – people fail those tests for a reason… just sayin’.

    • Mom says:

      People fail because the test is poorly designed? Or because the test was designed to be used for something different than what the “HR professionals” are using it for? Or what?

      I’m just sayin’.

      • exconsumer says:

        Well two kinds of people pass theses tests:

        1. People who have never done anything wrong and are super-extroverts. These people will be an asset to the store, I suppose.

        2. People who, upon intuiting what they believe their employer wants from them, are willing to bend the truth to themselves or others in order to deliver. These people are also very valuable to an employer.

        • Chaosium says:

          “2. People who, upon intuiting what they believe their employer wants from them, are willing to bend the truth to themselves or others in order to deliver. These people are also very valuable to an employer.”

          Especially the ones that involve customer-facing and sales, which is to say nearly every one of the jobs that they use these for.

    • Pelonis says:

      People fail the tests if they are honest

      People pass the tests if they lie

      Usually these type of tests are created by non qualified people

      Remember these points the next time you do an intake on a new employee, most likely that employee lied their ass off to get the job.

      Do you like trusting liars with your money/important documents?

      • Chaosium says:

        “Remember these points the next time you do an intake on a new employee, most likely that employee lied their ass off to get the job.

        Do you like trusting liars with your money/important documents?”

        As much as I dislike the tests, don’t be an ass. Nobody’s lying about qualifications, they’re lying about whether they meet a bullshit set of behavior patterns developed by an industrial psychology dropout.

    • Clobberella says:

      Yes, the reason being that they are not, by nature, perfect corporate drones. If they happen to prefer working alone rather than in a team, if they do not enjoy going to parties and being amongst large crowds, if they feel they have any sort of leadership capabilities, etc., and they answer these questions honestly, THAT is why they fail the test. The people who pass the tests are the people who either ARE, by nature, perfect corporate drones, and as such probably not very intelligent or creative or useful, or people who have taken enough of these things to figure them out and who know when and how to lie. So the people who do get hired are either complete morons or resourceful liars.

      These tests are generally based on the Five Factor Model of Personality, a psychological model of personality that is about as useful as phrenology. It is based on condensing down all of the complexities of human personality into five basic traits, which were essentially determined by looking at how many synonyms there were for various words (in English) and determining that the more synonyms a word had, the more important it was as a defining characteristic of humanity. Wikipedia has a decent overview. The point is, it’s all pseudoscience and nonsense. You could just as well give a test entitled “Which Twilight Character Are You?” which only passed people who most resembled sexy werewolves and it would do about as much for your workforce as the bullshit they’re using now.

      • tooluser says:

        I am often mistaken for a sexy werewolf.

        But I have no use for a job. Just bananas.

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

        I had a guy on my team that was a wolf, years ago. He didn’t speak much and howled all the time. Typical of what we got from Manpower.

      • zifnab0 says:

        I don’t think JCPenny, Target, or Sears really needs someone who is particularly “intelligent and creative” to stack boxes in the back room and put the size 10 pumps beneath the size 9.

        It’s called unskilled labor for a reason. If you want a job where you can be intelligent and creative, don’t apply to big corporations.

  27. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Whenever I hear about these ridiculous pre-employment tests, I always wonder how much of it has to do with the fear of discrimination lawsuits. The big companies find that it’s cheaper to suck out any subjectivity from the hiring process because it’s easier to defend some well established HR software (that’s probably insured from the company that made it) than it is to defend a potentially racist or sexist manager?

  28. ogremustcrush says:

    I’ve never heard of anyone passing these tests who answers honestly. When I used to work at Best Buy, who uses a similar sort of test, it was common knowledge among the employees that you only got hired if you answered “Strongly Agree” or “Strongly Disagree” on most if not all the questions. On some questions this is easy, like the one ones where it is asking about stealing etc. But for the ones like “I always finish what I’m working on first, even if I have to delay other duties to achieve it,” things can get less clear. It really depends on the job as to how most people would answer that question, but the test wants “Strongly agree” or “Strongly disagree.” On those questions I always figured they were then looking at consistency, as nearly every question had a similar twin that was just reworded somewhere else in the test.

  29. qualityleashdog says:

    Yes, there is a test for Welfare. They overwhelm you for requests for documents. Once you get them, they ‘discover’ the need for a couple of more documents. Then they schedule phone calls, much like a cable company, asking for you to sit at a particular number between 8 and 12, but then never call. Then they ask you to hunt down some more documents, to come into the help center, but then announce that your particular worker was called away, then they ask for some more documents.
    It’s all designed to aggravate you and encourage you to give up.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      And yet when people talk about Welfare “reform” they don’t mean making it easier for qualified cases to obtain benefits, they mean making the above process even harder.

      Man up, people. If you want to abolish Welfare, say so. Hope you like homeless people.

  30. framitz says:

    I have had to take Ethics tests for employment before.

    These are hard test where sometimes even if you try to give the answer you think they want there really is no right answer.

    I always did fine by giving the answers that I thought they would like best. (which aren’t that far off of my true answers)

  31. PLATTWORX says:

    I have to say, while frustrated, if the OP went off the hook like this applying at my company, they would not be hired either.

    Apply to a local salon where you will probably make more in wages and tips than a “chain” like JCPenney. In most areas, the only people who use the JCPenney salon are blue haired old laides. Really.

    • Powerlurker says:

      I was under the impression that the vast majority of salons and barber shops don’t pay wages; that everyone except the owner/franchisee is an independent contractor who rents their station by the month, pays for their own supplies and keeps whatever they earn.

  32. Bob Lu says:

    In WW2 years some scientists got turned down by uncle Sam because the test said they were too crazy for army.

    Lucky for us, the only job left for those too-crazy-for-army people was making atomic bombs.

  33. startertan says:

    Same thing happened to me when I applied at Best Buy. Yes, I had just graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering but apparently I was too dumb to work at Best Buy.

    The questions that mess people up are, would you fire someone for stealing a dollar (most think no, they think yes…if you steal a dollar you’re probably stealing more). If you use drugs one time are you a drug addict.

    Don’t think like a normal person, think like an evil faceless corporation that boils people down to some type of Orweillian nightmare where you are simply a number.

  34. davidsco says:

    I learned a long time ago that you have to BS on these stupid test. HR people are among the biggest morons on the planet. They don’t know how to hire, so they resolve themselves to these ridiculous tests to do their jobs for them. You basically have to answer them like a jerkoff. Yes, I’d turn in my friends for stealing, Yes, I’m a goody two shoes, yes, I’m in bed by 8 and up at 5. No, I’d never steal, call in sick, or breath on days ending in Y. Etc. That’s the only way you get hired

  35. thewildboo says:

    Yup, I had a manager at a drug store all excited to hire me when I was in college, and he looked utterly crestfallen when he discovered I failed the stupid test. There was no way around it, he couldn’t hire me. What they want is people that will lie to them and tell them what they want to hear, not honest people who actually think about the answers.

  36. LightningUsagi says:

    When I was in high school, I worked at a KB Toys. I’d been there for about a year when they started using these tests, and it was insanely hard for us to hire new people because everyone was failing. So just to see what the stupid test was all about, I called up and took it. I had no reason to lie about anything since I was already working there, so I answered stuff honestly and didn’t think anything more about it.

    I ended up leaving to work at another store that had better hours and pay, but a few months later, I was asked if I wanted to come back and do after-hours stocking. They gave me the phone number for the personality test, and when I called to take it, it said there was already one registered for me. About a week later, I got a call from my former manager telling me that they wouldn’t be able to hire me because I’d failed the test. “Um, I worked there for almost 2 years, no theft, no disciplinary action, and you can’t hire me to work 10 hours a week stocking shelves?” “Nope, sorry, you’re not the kind of employee corporate wants.”

    Several years later, I was offered a job with AOL. Filled out the apps, went thru the interview process, etc. They offered me the job, then saw that I hadn’t done that part of the testing. Take the test, go home thinking I am starting a job in a month. A week later, I got a call saying I couldn’t be hired because of the personality test. I was perfectly qualified, came with recommendations from several other employees, had fun in the interviews, and knew I’d be good at my job…but a computer said I might steal a paper clip or fart without saying ‘excuse me’.

    I don’t like those tests because they’re designed to trick you into ‘lying’. They ask the same question over and over, tweaked a bit to make it seem like a different question to see if you’re consistant. But the problem is that every time the question is changed, it becomes a slightly different question, and that little change might be enough to change how you view that situation. I actually took one once that asked if I’d ever contemplated suicide. I don’t see how teen angst that lasted a few hours could possibly have an effect to me using a cash register.

    When I talked to someone about the test later, they said the best trick you can use when taking those tests is to put everything into a context of ‘today’. Like, if the question is ‘have you ever taken office supplies from work before’ you see it as ‘did you take any office supplies from work today’. That way, everytime that question comes around, you are framing it in the same way in your mind, and won’t trip up when it’s slightly changed.

  37. StrangeEmily says:

    This reminds me of a customer who showed up at one of the retail places I worked at.
    She asked for a paper version of the job application because she couldn’t find the link to apply for a job on our retail website. When I had to inform her that the company didn’t make those she almost accused me of directly blocking her attempts to apply.
    As for the application quiz, I’ve never failed one (that I know of), and never thought about looking up online before hand. I always found what they needed to be pretty straight forward.
    Though I do find the ones that ask the same question differently over 5 times in a test to be considered very creepy.
    But if that stops the women in their late 40’s or 50’s who show up at opening time in a jeans and t-shirt from filling in an application, and then waiting around the entire day for a job interview no-show so she can quickly get her foot in the door than I am more than willing to stand by this procedure… especially if those women are applying to be my manager. Eek.
    As for people in their 60’s or 70’s… older even, you can’t expect them to be able to fill out these things online, and you shouldn’t leave them alone at the application terminal, instead of have them shy away from your store, assign a co-worker or manager to sit with them and type while they dictate, is that much to ask?

  38. SimplyStating says:

    I say if it is designed to disqualify people who tell the truth then the company using the test is setting themselves up for failure. If a person is willing to lie to get the job they are willing to lie while on the job. It is that simple.

  39. coren says:

    The however many day restriction is due to them keeping your application on file for 6 months – failed or otherwise. Advantageous if there’s lots of openings at the place, not so much if you fuck it up.

  40. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I took one of these when I applied for a job at an accounting firm once. The managers said the test indicated I wasn’t a good fit for the job. I politely challenged it (“How do you know? I’ve done this work before, blalblabla”) and actually got hired.

    Turned out it wasn’t a good fit – not because of the test, but because they 1) hired me for a receptionist job and then tried to make me do someone’s payroll (Excuse me? In a place full of accountants?!), 2) made me do personal stuff for their church activities, and 3) the wife/co-manager screamed at me on my third day for making a small mistake. I said thank you very much for the opportunity and quit.

    I wish they had tests that allowed you to screen the BOSSES.

    I think

  41. carefree dude says:

    Here is the question that always gets me:

    I used to do drugs in the past, but I don’t any longer
    Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

    How do you answer that if you never used drugs? If you say you strongly agree, you would be admitting to having used drugs. If you say strongly disagree, it could be taken as you currently doing drugs.

  42. ITDEFX says:

    I’ve applied for jobs where the computer hates my resume and says I’m not qualified for the position…yet when a human reviews my resume…they say “your qualified for the position!” Uh ok.

  43. chocolate1234 says:

    Maybe the salon is different, but when I worked the retail end of JCP in high school it was a terrible job with awful management and crappy pay. I had to fight for months to get my MANDATORY raise instated after my probationary period was over. They gave me my raise about three months after they were supposed to, and I had to argue to get them to cut me a check for the back pay they owed me. I can’t say I’m surprised they’ve gone downhill.

  44. meternx01 says:

    I had this with Best Buy. I have the technical know-how, and the manager liked me.. But I failed the personality test, so they wouldn’t hire me. I wasn’t much of a Customer Service cheerleader…

    Now I was in college at the time before I noticed how Best Buy is today. Still makes me mad, but now I have a wonderful job I look back and laugh..

  45. borgia says:

    One thing that no one has mentioned is that these tests are useful for the company when firing people or in lawsuits. They have a test they can hold up that shows your “opinions” or knowledge. They can use it to prove that you knew what you were doing was wrong or that your could be fired for a certain activity. Not nice but possible.

  46. llsee says:

    Funny, if these tests are designed to find the right kind of person to represent the company, how did all of those idiot savants get hired by Best Buy? Is that really how they want their company/brand name represented? oops, guess I just answered my own question.

  47. llsee says:

    Funny, if these tests are designed to find the right kind of person to represent the company, how did all of those idiot savants get hired by Best Buy? Is that really how they want their company/brand name represented? oops, guess I just answered my own question.

  48. exconsumer says:

    Yep these tests are easy to game, and don’t measure your personality accurately, and companies know it. So why do they use them at all?

    Well, there is one aspect of your person that this test measures with accuracy:

    Is this person willing to be or at least say they are the person they think the company wants them to be. If you can do it on the test, you can do it when your boss asks you to do something stupid.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Yep. I’m convinced the real point of these tests are to weed out the extreme wackos, but mostly to test the ability to do meaningless corporate BS.

      This is an important skill. Unfortunately.

  49. AnthonyC says:

    As you point out, computers don’t make mistakes. They do *exactly* what we tell them to do. Problem is, programmers do make mistakes, as do the people who specify to the programmers what they want to software to do. Did you ever, in grade school, have to write an essay like “In as much detail as possible, describe all the steps needed to make a PB&J sandwich?” That can easily be extended to several pages- and that’s the level of detail computers need, error-free, to do anything.

  50. exsprintminion says:

    I used to work for JCP some years back as a loss prevention officer. Earlier this year, after quitting work at Sprint, I tried to go back to JCP to do the EXACT same job. Their hiring test wasn’t even relevant to loss prevention and it failed me even though I wasn’t even applying for a customer service position. Ridiculous.

  51. pittstonjoma says:

    I tried to get a job at Network Solutions years ago. I guess I was too honest on the weird test they made me take.

  52. libwitch says:

    Considering those tests tend to make sure that you don’t sit around and drool on yourself, its scary that you can fail them.

  53. mopman64 says:

    Here is a tip to passing one of those dumb test:

    You see a co woker steal, what do you do.
    1. Tell Mgr
    2. Say nothing
    3. Say I want a cut or I am telling
    4. Punch him/her in head grab what he/she is stealing and run like hell.

    The correct answer is 4 but to pass the test you would answer 1

  54. Megladon says:

    Not a computer, but my wife (who is deaf) applied to work at target, and some guy in a wheel chair comes rolling up while we’re filling out the computer app in the store to talk to us. I can barely understand him, and he’s got so much drool pouring out of his mouth onto his shirt it looked great, and I was cool with that until he started talking. He found out my wife was deaf, and he said if she cant use a radio she cant work there. I said listen jackoff if they can make up a job for you i’m sure they can let her work without a radio. It didnt go over well, for some reason neither of us wanted her working there after talking to him.

  55. sopmodm14 says:

    either JCP failed their own test, or there as self-incriminating responses that you ruled yourself out of

    keep searching, and there should be a fit for you somewhere

    best of luck

  56. Ginger Lee says:

    my favorite: “I would take a day off because the weather is nice.”
    Of course not! never. right?

  57. Jane_Gage says:

    Say you’re a person living with autism or major depression and sue the $h!t out of them.

  58. loueloui says:

    Two days ago same thing happened to me. I retired after 28 years as a customer service rep with a major communications company and have been bonded, At the end of the test there was a statement that due to my answers I don’t qualify to be a JCP employee. You don’t keep a job for 28 years by being an untrustworthy, incompetent employee. Their loss !!!

  59. SkreanAme says:

    Does it deduct points for over-use of exclamation points?

  60. DJ Nihil says:

    I applied once to work for a major retailer, and the online portion wanted to offer me an interview and to click on the provided calender to find a date and time to come in.

    I could schedule anytime in 3 months, which I thought was weird, and I rifled through the 3 months and there were no available times.

    Sorry I wasted my time with that application.

  61. Jasen says:

    You have to look at these tests the right way.
    They are not personality or aptitude tests. They are intelligence tests.
    Are you smart enough to mark the answers that they want to see? That is the test.

  62. soxfantoo says:

    I have had some experience with these testsl

    1. Assuming you did not admit to theft…you may not have failed.
    The test may have determined that you might not be a good fit for the position….and yes. it may be wrong.

    2. As for lying….most of these tests are written to determine deception…..which would probably be an immediate knock-out factor,.

    • Chaosium says:

      “2. As for lying….most of these tests are written to determine deception…..which would probably be an immediate knock-out factor,.”

      No, they aren’t. Not well, at least.

  63. soxfantoo says:

    I have had some experience with these testsl

    1. Assuming you did not admit to theft…you may not have failed.
    The test may have determined that you might not be a good fit for the position….and yes. it may be wrong.

    2. As for lying….most of these tests are written to determine deception…..which would probably be an immediate knock-out factor,.

  64. Thorzdad says:

    Online job applications have become a crutch for HR departments. It’s allowed HR people to become more like glorified secretaries, merely mindlessly parroting what the great-god-computer tells them, rather than act as any sort of actual trained professional.

  65. archer117 says:

    This is not unlike the written psychological tests they give to prospective police officers. You need to tell them what they want to hear and keep all of your answers consistent. Honesty is definitely NOT the best policy with these.

  66. reynwrap582 says:

    I was working for FedEx Kinko’s a few years back and the store manager wanted to move me up a step from the position I was working. The details may not be perfect but this is more or less how it happened. To get the promotion I had to complete some training on a computer over the store’s intranet. Following that was a 20-30 minute test which you had something like 60 to 90 minutes to complete. I got all the way to the submission page very confident that my score was perfect or near it when we lost connectivity and my session timed out. Because it was a timed test, I wasn’t able to resume or finish it at a later time, I would have to retake it. No biggie, right?

    Wait, nope, it said I already took the test and time had elapsed before I finished, automatic fail, I wasn’t eligible to take the test again for 90 days.

    The store manager spent at least a couple hours calling different people at district and corporate and got nowhere. Nobody would reset the test, nobody would approve the promotion, I was stuck in my position for at least 90 days because a huge corporation like FedEx can’t keep it’s intranet running consistently (it was always going down anyway).

    To top it off, the job I was aiming for was filled 2 months later when the district manager transferred someone newer and dumber than me from another store, who had been able to complete the test. By that point I was planning on leaving, that just solidified it for me.

  67. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and see a customer. It’s crawling toward you. You reach down and flip the customer over on its back
    The customer lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over. But it can’t. Not with out your help. But you’re not helping.

    A – Help the customer right itself.
    B – Give the customer encouragement. “You can do it!”
    C – Pretend to be engaged with another customer and walk away.
    D – Offer to call over another JCP employee to ‘help’ while you leave.
    E – Hold it to the ground by planting one foot firmly on its chest.

    Reaction time is a factor in this so please pay attention. Answer as quickly as you can.
    [Loud ticking digital clock on screen counting down]

  68. pyrobryan says:

    I once got hired at a retail store despite my honesty on the application. My friend worked there and recommended me to her boss (store manager) to take her place as a cashier when she left for college. I applied and got an immediate interview (he read my application as we talked). I got hired on the spot and was promoted to an assistant manager position within a month.

    Some time later we were talking about job applications and I mentioned how I was surprised that it didn’t come up in the interview how I had answered on the question that asked if I had ever stolen anything from an employer (pencils, pens, paper, etc.). I answered yes, because in the past I had “misappropriated” supplies from former employers. I was curious to see how an honest answer would play. I was ready to defend my answer by stating that everyone has at some point taken company property in some form or another. Would you rather hire someone who was honest enough to say they have done it, and is resolved to not do it any more, or someone who would lie and say that they never have? However, he overlooked that question during our interview. After my revelation, he informed me that if he had seen my answer, he would not have hired me, that it would have been against company policy to do so. So here’s a store that’s trusting me to oversee millions of dollars of inventory that wouldn’t have trusted me to be a bottom rung stockboy if this guy had read one line on my application.

    So, yes, tell them what they want to hear.

    • Chaosium says:

      “Would you rather hire someone who was honest enough to say they have done it, and is resolved to not do it any more, or someone who would lie and say that they never have?”

      Yeah, megacorporations and chains don’t think like that.

  69. baristabrawl says:

    The tests see if you’re customer service material. They ask the same 10 questions over and over by rephrasing them. I don’t know how you could ever fail one.

  70. thor79 says:

    I’ve taken these tests before…in the time when I was desperate to get a job (a few years ago). There’s two types of people this is designed for: Those perfect corporate drones and people resourceful enough to cheat the test and answer perfectly. Never passed one of these myself.

    Given the types of companies that use these (haven’t had to take one after getting a degree), and the type of people I interact with when I visit those stores. I am glad I didn’t pass, that’s a confirmation that I’m not like the idiots working at those stores. That’s a very good thing IMO.

  71. LeftyRodriguez says:

    FWIW, they probably told you “Plano” rather than “Waco” as JCP’s home offices are in Plano, a suburb of Dallas. Not that this has any bearing on your (in)ability to pass their screening–just more of an FYI.

  72. Rhinoguy says:

    With all the comments on here about lying to pass the test I think it is safe to assume that the test WANTS liars. That would mean that JCP has been taken over by the government. Swell.

  73. Chaosium says:

    “1. Applied online. Answered lot of strange questions, but I answered them honestly. “

    There’s the mistake. Lie. Tell them what they want to hear.

    Personality tests are about your sales ability, not honesty. You’ll never ever get the job if you answer honestly, even if you’re the best candidate for the job.

  74. Ratran says:

    Ha. I just got hired to Hell-mart. I am very anti-hellmart. But, I took the stupid assessment test passed. Then on the interview I was asked by 2 different people, 5 questions each basically asking the same question written a different ways.

    Hey, jerb is a jerb.

  75. BradenR says:

    My opinion, you escaped with your conscience intact. Do you really want to work for a company which vigorously supports Israeli efforts of ethnic cleansing? Every purchase pays for a bullet to murder an innocent.

  76. mmmmna says:

    Similar screenings (most are provided by either Unicru or Kronos): Shaws Supermarkets in north east, Penney (as cited), Staples, Best Buy, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, the now defunct version of Citcuit City, etcetera. Most stores refuse (AND managers are told to refuse) paper applications (if you can even find any paper applications these days). One MAJOR issue: I get dropped out of one process when the system recalled my ss# and re-entered certain details which had changed – I was not offered any opportunity to correct the situation. I feel that we are definitely being tracked. On those dumb screenings, many issues are ambivalent: to keep a good workforce, you should try to work things out between yourself and an upset employee, yet if you aren’t ignoring the problems, you can be considered to be wasting company time on ‘personal matters’. The real underlying effort was intended to see if you matched a certain position, yet use ONE screening for several levels in the employer: a good manager has to have slightly different characteristics from a subordinate stock clerk.