What’s Your XQ?/How Employers Try To Pick Your Brain

I found a fascinating article in Time magazine recently that the latest craze to hit the job market is a new set of tests that reveal your XQ, which basically scientifically measures your psyche…It is a sort of high tech personality test, replacing the old IQ, or Intelligence quotient, and the EQ, which measured your Emotional intelligence as a “set of skills”…This XQ is a new tool, a battery of tests, employers are now using to optimize hiring new employees…It is a required part of the screening of job applicants at many companies now, from burger flippers to high finance job seekers…

It is based on algorithms, and the X in XQ is the X factor, supposedly the practice of testing for personality traits that will lead to success in a particular role….To quote from Time: “Convinced by the gurus of Big Data that a perfect workforce can be achieved by analyzing the psyche and running the results through computers, hundreds of employers now insist that job candidates submit to personality tests.”



Well we certainly are NOT in Kansas anymore, Dorothy! How intrusive can these big corporations be? I guess the answer is as usual they can do anything they want to do because most people are desperately seeking work and will submit to any personal intrusion and indignity to get that job to bring home that paycheck…These questions can be quite personal, and there is of course no guarantee of 100% success, but this is definitely a new and I think disturbing trend in invading a person’s personal space…



Personality tests themselves are not new, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or MMPI has been around since the 1960’s, I remember taking this particular test myself, but it’s chief purpose then (we were told) was to find out what YOU liked and therefore what type of job you would feel most comfortable in….This was not intrusive or as revealing as the current new set of questions testing your XQ are…



To quote my Google sources: “ From the 1940s to the 1980s, the original MMPI was the most widely used and most intensely researched psychological assessment instrument in the United States and worldwide. An additional innovation in the original MMPI was the presence of validity scales embedded in the test questions. These sets of items, scattered randomly throughout the MMPI-2, allow the examiner to assess whether the respondent answered questions in an open and honest manner, or tried to exaggerate or conceal information.

One means of checking for distortions in responding to the instrument is asking whether the test taker refused to admit to some less-than-ideal actions that most people probably engage in and will admit to doing. An example of this type of question would be (true or false) “If I could sneak into the county fair or an amusement park without paying, I would.”

Another type of validity check that assesses honesty in responses is whether the client admits to participating in far more unusual behaviors and actions than were admitted to by both the psychiatric comparison group and the general community sample. The validity scales also identify whether the test taker responded inconsistently or randomly.”

The new set of XQ tests are based on algorithms, which are: “Logical or procedural. An algorithm may be viewed as controlled logical deductions. … These new testing methods rub many people the wrong way, as an invasion of their privacy…They are totally logical based assumptions, and are mostly used in computer sciences and in programming computers… That may or may not be of any relevance when factoring in the human component…



A strong proponent of these tests is Bridgewater Associates in Connecticut, which has nearly $170 billion in investments and about 1,400 employees”….It begins with hiring….. When looking to fill a new role, the XQ tests specifies not only the work involved but also the attributes that will be advantageous to the person doing the job, like meticulous thinking or the ability to hold people accountable…..

The hedge funds founder, one of the infamous 1%, is Ray Dalio “who is one of the richest 100 people in the world according to Forbes magazine.” He is a true believer…. “In Dalio’s vision, personality traits don’t just help you find the right people; they help you understand them, manage those below you, work better with those above you and cooperate better with peers.”

Talk about Big Brother! There are many detractors and nay sayers who scoff at this totally logic based way of trying to predict the job performance capability of inherently illogical people, which as emotional, sentimental, hunch playing, risk taking and intuitive human beings, we all are…



It is further pseudo science, according to many debunkers of the Time Magazine article….. “There is no one “it” factor against which everyone should measure themselves. Different personalities are needed and will thrive in different roles and positions, and will be successful at different tasks using different strengths.

The thing is, most hiring personnel probably have little clue as to what they, the company, team or project really need in an employee. They most likely haven’t gotten past the regular stuff like college degree, attention to detail, ability to be a client-facing entity, an impressive track record, nepotism etc. It’s like dating. What you think you want, you really don’t need, while you’ve been ignoring what you truly need in order to make a relationship work.”

So in essence, you can do all the testing that you want, but there is still no clear cut perfect way of determining the perfect potential employee..None of these computer based algorithms can truly measure the inner person, the drive, desire or the adaptability and “thinking on your feet” ability of a real human being in a real work decision or performance making situation….




No matter how they try to depersonalize people, how they try to predict with perfect accuracy performance how we will perform with any degree of accuracy, it still seems mostly like  guesswork to me…Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t, but personally I put little faith in these new wave XQ tests, whose guinea pigs are mostly the Millennials, new young people just entering the labor force for the first time…Good luck, you guys!

We are all just human beings, after all, and nobody can truly measure “Heart!”

Just leave it like it is right now

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