Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Responses to the "Snowflake Test"

As discussed on the 3/30/17 episode of the Adam Carolla Show, all Carolla Digital employees were asked to take an employment survey designed by the CEO of Silent Partner, an advertising agency. The CEO determined I was the least likely to get an interview based on the answers provided for the survey (colloquially known as a "Snowflake test"). Important disclosure: In his reasoning for why I would not get called for an interview, the CEO cited that my answers made me seem like a "jackass," not a snowflake. The 30-question test appears below, along with my 100%-honest answers, exactly as they were submitted to the company. 

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1. Outside of standard benefits, what benefits should a company offer employees?

What are considered "standard benefits"? What is the size of the company? What level of employment? C-suite? Entry level? What industry? What part of the world? Assuming a Director-level or above position at a larger marketing corporation in a major city: health insurance, 401k, stock options, time off (PTO/vacation, sick days, maternity leave) would widely be considered "bare minimum." 

2. What should the national minimum wage be?

There shouldn't be a national minimum wage. The minimum wage should be dictated by a number of (mostly local) factors. $15/hour might be far too low in Manhattan, NY, but it might be too high in Manhattan, Kansas (see what I did there?)

3. How many sick days should be given to employees?

This, of course, depends on a number of factors. Is this for an entry-level position or a VP? What do competing firms in the area offer? Is there a mandatory number dictated by local or state law? As a baseline, one day every 2 months (6 per year) seems fair for entry-level employees. 

4. How often should employees get raises?

Typically, once per year, when they get their annual reviews. The raises should be commensurate with their performance (i.e., a higher score on your performance review gets a higher percentage of salary increase). Of course, if the position is results-based (sales, for instance) then regular bonuses (quarterly/monthly) should be offered.

5. How do you feel about guns?

What a bizarre question for an employment survey.

6. What are your feelings about employees or clients carrying guns?

Depends on the industry. If I'm a police officer, I feel pretty good about it. If I'm a pre-school teacher, not so much. All things being equal, if the gun owner is licensed and trained and permitted to carry a concealed weapon, go ahead.

7. What are your feelings about safe spaces in challenging work environments?

I believe these are apocryphal and I don't think they actually exist. Unless you're a professional fighter and your "challenging work environment" is the ring and your "Safe space" is the neutral corner between rounds. 

8. In a creative environment like The Silent Partner Marketing, what do you envision work attire looking like?

I'm sure it would look much like all the other marketing firms I've seen: Casual but professional, with certain departments (HR, Finance, etc) dressing a little more conservatively and others (Production, Design) dressing a little more casually. 

9. Should “trigger warnings” be issued before we release content for clients or the company that might be considered “controversial”?

That depends on the material. If the client is a anti-abortion group who is trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood, and the ad they've approved is an image of a mutilated fetus, then yes, I think it'd be prudent to mention that "the image you are about to see is extremely graphic." 

10. How do you feel about police?

Again, what a strange job-interview question.

11. If you owned the company and were to find out that a client is operating unethically but was a high paying client…how would you handle it?

This is such a vaguely hypothetical question that it's difficult to answer without knowing specific circumstances. Let's just assume the unethical behavior is illegal - in which case, you'd be facing legal action yourself for not reporting it. 

12. When was the last time you cried and why?

Six months ago, when my daughter was born. 

13. You arrive at an event for work and there’s a major celebrity you’ve always wanted to meet. What happens next?

If we're both at the event, then I'm assuming the celebrity is there because he/she has some connection to the company. Assuming this is a marketing firm, then it's fair to assume the "major" celebrity appeared in some form of advertising the company produced. In which case, I'd wait for an opportune time to politely compliment and thank him or her on the work they did with our company.

14. What’s your favorite kind of adult beverage?

1. Beer
2. Wine
3. Martini
(If you're asking "Gin or vodka?" - I said "MARTINI.")

15. What’s the best way to communicate with clients?

Like, what is literally the best mode of communication? The obvious answer is "Whatever the client prefers," but all things being equal, face-to-face communication is best. After that, whatever is most convenient for everyone: email, text, instant message, video conferencing, etc.

16. What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?

Take inane surveys.

17. What are your thoughts on the current college environment as it pertains to a future workforce?

I finished college 17 years ago so I have no perspective on the current college environment. 

18. What’s your typical breakfast?

Two eggs, over medium, with two links of chicken sausage and avocado. 

19. What’s your favorite drink when you go to a coffeehouse?

I don't have a "favorite" drink, per se, but my most-ordered drink (aside from just plain coffee) is an iced coffee. I add my own cream and sweetener.

20. How do you handle bullies?

Luckily, at my age, I don't encounter too many "bullies" in my day-to-day existence. Life has a way of kind of "weeding out" the types of people you don't want to spend time with. But if my daughter were to come to me some day and tell her that a kid at school was bullying her, I'd tell her that that little boy or girl most likely comes from a horrible family and is certainly very insecure. His or her parents are miserable people whose lives probably didn't turn out the way they wanted, and the same will someday be said of their children. But don't worry, your revenge will be the quiet satisfaction you feel when they ask you "Paper or plastic?" in 20 years. 

21. How do you handle it when your ideas are shot down?

Depends on who's shooting them down, and why. If they're being shot down by someone who has a better idea, then who cares? If my idea is a B+ and it gets shot down in favor of an A-, I'd be a fool not to go along with it. If my B+ gets shot down in favor of a B-, I'd just hope that there were enough smart people in the room (or at the executive level) to step in.

22. What do you do if a coworker comes to the table with an idea and it sucks?

You mean like this survey?

23. What does the first amendment mean to you?

What is this, 1st grade Civics class?

24. What does faith mean to you?

This is an employment survey, right?

25. Who is your role model and why?

Anyone who completed this survey, because DAMN are they committed to getting the job.

26. You're in Starbucks with two friends. Someone runs in and says someone is coming in with a gun in 15 seconds to shoot patrons. They offer you a gun. Do you take it? What do you do next?

How many people are in this Starbucks? Is it crowded? Where did this anonymous tipster get the gun? If this hypothetical person is offering me a gun, I'm going to assume that, by virtue of them being a gun owner, they have some gun training. In which case, they would be FAR more effective with it than I, someone who's never fired a gun. If they were somehow ineligible or unwilling to use the gun, I'd try to quickly ascertain who in the Starbucks had gun training, and try to get the gun to that person. 

27. What does America mean to you?

This survey is a nightmare. 

28. You see someone stepping on an American flag. What do you do?

Why would I do anything? Besides, if you see someone do this, it most likely means you're at some kind of protest, in which case you'd probably support whatever cause they were championing. 

29. What does “privilege” mean to you?

It always makes me think of my high school driving instructor who emphasized, "Driving a car is a PRIVILEGE, not a right."

30. What’s more important? Book smarts or street smarts? Why?

The obvious answer is "a healthy mix of both." Aside from that, it would depend on the industry the person worked in. I don't think a roofer or a truck driver or a professional gambler needs to be particularly book smart, but I'd very much like my oncologist and CPA to be as book smart as possible. 

71 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I'm Just listening to the episode right now, thank you for voicing your opinion on air as well as posting your responses to the survey. obviously in a "normal" interview process the goal is to tell your potential employer what they "want to hear" so to speak. that being said, I'm totally with you in your responses here. I don't see what ones opinion on citizens first amendment rights (which includes ones right to step on a U.S. flag) has to do with their eligibility for employment. Either way, i was glad to hear you take a stand and construct a valid argument about your opinion (which according to Kyle Reyes own standards should get you hired at his company)

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  2. Always wanted to call in, but I don't sit around staring at twitter waiting for a sign from god ( wait, Adam doesn't believe in god) to call in. Nor do I have the desire to wait on hold forever waiting to get, at best, interrupted. But the main reason I would wait would be to tell you that I really think you have grown and improved on the show. Ever since Fake Theresa #1 left you've really started killing it. Think I remember you saying that you've been taking improv lessons as well. It shows. You've cranked it up to 11 and I think you're my favorite part of the show. (Don't tell your boss I said that, but you can rub it in Gina's nose if you want) plus you kicked cancers ass.
    Thank you.

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  3. Ok your not that much of a twat. The test is weird and some of your answers were smartass funny

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    1. This made me actually laugh out loud. CONGRATS BRYAN YOU'RE ABOUT A 4 ON THE TWAT METER ACCORDING TO UNKNOWN INTERNET COMMENTER ENJOY YOUR DAY

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  4. If I had to be classified,I'd say I'm a right-leaning libertarian. I'm also someone who has interviewed and hired many people over the years. I wouldn't touch this ridiculous survey with a 10 foot pole! Good job, BB.

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  5. This guy was triggered by your answers. Great job.

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  6. This guy Reyes was an ass. I'm glad you answered his questions the way you did. Really, if you need a survey to weed out potential employees who don't fit your right-wing opinions and compromise the sanctity of your "safespace", that makes YOU the snowflake. I loved your answers, Bryan. The more smart-assed the better!

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  7. Would be interesting to get an expert to explain the proper way to use screening instruments (this one does have many problems). Garagos should have an expert on file (Not a lawyer, but an industrial-organizational psychologist - found at all local universities). Ace says he likes to learn from the experts, this is a great opportunity.

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  8. Bryan, first off I loved your answers. I thought you were the only one to get the joke (that was all a joke right?).

    But, your comments on the show demonstrated a huge misunderstanding of what employment discrimination is. Here it is straight from the EEOC:

    "It is illegal for an employer to publish a job advertisement that shows a preference for or discourages someone from applying for a job because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information."

    You seem to think you can't discriminate based on values as you specifically mentioned that. This is not included on the list above, nor should it be.

    As someone who owns a business and hires many people, values are the most important part of what I'm trying to glean from a candidate. Do you value freedom, money, status, camaraderie, advancement? I can't imagine an effective hiring manager not trying to determine 'what are this person's motivations?'.

    Also, determining whether they 'like' cops, guns, etc. is not only not discriminatory but also very important for the specific job. Can you imagine hiring a person for ACS that didn't like Adam, or that so strongly disagreed with Milo that they would refuse to be in the building with him? Wouldn't you want to know that before you hired them?

    I get that Kyle has an interesting (to put it kindly) survey to get the people he needs. We have to resort to weird methods to weed out people who frankly don't even read the job description.

    So, I love you and think you're hilarious (and your survey was hilarious) but your response to Kyle of 'good luck with your lawsuits' was kinda douchy and demonstrated your ignorance on the subject.

    Just my two cents.

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    1. Fair enough. I am definitely ignorant on the subject, as you pointed out. It just struck me that a question about one's faith could (ostensibly) be used to discriminate based on the answer. Seemed obvious to me, but like you and I said, I am ignorant on the subject. Thanks for the thoughtful response.

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    2. Yeah I get that he asked a out faith and its a fair point that even asking the question is walking a very fine line. I think he handled that point fairly well but it does open a huge can of worms and he should probably delete it.

      And yeah, you were probably justified in being a little douchy after he called you a jackass. Love your stuff BB.

      Also it kinda seemed like August lost a bet or something to this dude and instead of paying him he decided to give him a free 20m segment. There was zero context and it all felt out of place.

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  9. You have no "right to be employed" so there would be no way to win a lawsuit based upon taking this survey any more than taking any test like you do at any major cooperation like AT&T, which I had to do, which asked ethical questions in order to decide if I received and interview. This is just as much valid as that. You didn't like the questions, and many may not, so, don't attempt to work there, It isn't wrong for a business owner to want like minded people working for them, not a single question asked you your race,religion, age, or anything like that. Being professional requires hiding your feelings about certain subjects on occasion, it seems working in what can be considered a non cooperate world all these years has given you a slanted view on how the world works. If you are unable to fall in line with what the needs of your company are, you better own the company or work where you do, because the world doesn't adapt to you, you adapt to it. Your lack of understanding of the legal aspects of all this are really showing how little exposure you have to the real working world, and it wasn't right to be so rude to someone who was a guest, but I guess you never learned that.

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    1. Those are good points - thanks for sharing them. As for being "rude," he DID call me a jackass, so at that point, an in-kind reply was justified. FWIW, I thought I was being fairly respectful, given that he was only calling in to promote this strange "test."

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  10. Definitely not a snowflake, more like... an aggregation of ice crystals.

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  11. I thought you made valid points; a lot of the surveys questions are vague. You might of sounded a little blow-hardy at times. For example, "the raises should be commensurate with their performance" did not need further explanation, especially to a CEO. The idea of a snowflake test is amusing though the questions could be improved. Love ya BB! Oh and do you use a Akai MPC for your drops on ACS?

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  12. I definitely at least read this as a person who really didn't want the hypothetical job. You'd write it differently I think if you were unemployed for the last six months.

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    1. Even if I were someone facing months of unemployment, I don't think I'd react favorably to this idiotic survey. I sure wouldn't want to work for the guy who created it.

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  13. I definitely at least read this as a person who really didn't want the hypothetical job. You'd write it differently I think if you were unemployed for the last six months.

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  14. Hey Bald! Kyle really busted your balls on the show, but I love your "combative" answers. I especially liked how you balked at the bizarre nature of asking about your feelings about the police but immediately answered the question about the last time you cried. Great work, as usual!

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  15. Gina is a world class suck up so OF COURSE she'd score the highest. Way to keep it real Bald. Love ya on the show!

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    1. Gina adds absolutely nothing to the show! How on earth did she ever get that gig!

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    2. I like that R2D2 (or whatever that alphanumeric name is above) refers to Gina as a suck up in his comment where he is sucking up to Brian. "Takes one to know one" is a cliche' for a reason.

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  16. The one who sounds like a snowflake is the guy who made this test. So you can't bare to work around people who have slightly different beliefs than you? Isn't that what the safe space was all about? Having to be separated from people who have different ideas than you.

    BB, good on you for how you handled this guy.

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    1. There is an irony to creating a test to "weed out" people with differing opinions and justifying it by saying your don't want to hire "whiny brats."

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  17. Not going to relitigate the friction between you and Kyle, though I would say it was friendly at the core. He meant no harm, neither did you.

    I wish the test was like one of those political tests on the internet that aren't binary, but have about 5 different choices that run on a spectrum. Yes, and or Yes, but. No, and or No, but.

    Don't think this test is lawsuit material but the questions on faith, guns, and police were dumb because it had nothing to pertain with employment. And the one about the hypothetical Starbucks shootout is ridiculous. But if there is a correct answer, you gave it. Hand the gun to someone who is trained, not some newb who is probably going to end up hurting innocent people with a stray bullet across the street.

    The coffee question I think is to get an idea of how demanding or needy of a person you are. It was like a little league version of the sick leave question.

    Also, Bryan, for real there are "safe spaces" on college campi. Usually an area denoted by a printed sign (usually yellow or pink paper for some reason) and it is almost always at college speaker events, that are almost always given by right-leaning speakers.

    I hate the "what do you do in your free time" question because the answer is "everything I need to do get done in my life when I am not at work." The crying question is difficult because you don't remember stuff like that. The only thing one could say, like you did, is the birth of a child or the death of a loved one.

    I thought your answer on trigger warnings was perfect.

    You could have been more sincere on the First Amendment question and the two relating to ideas.

    Also, to the guy who said Gina is a suck up. No, she just a dot your i and cross your t type of person and took it sincerely. I thought her answer on illicit activities was correct.

    Maybe try it again and take it seriously so we could get a better idea?

    Hope you read my answer and keep up the good improv work my friend!

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    1. Thanks for the detailed response. As for "free spaces," I understand that they exist on college campuses, somewhat controversially. But I have yet to see any evidence of one existing in a work environment. Maybe one exists somewhere, but at this point, it seems apocryphal.

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    2. It is true they aren't the norm, yet, but I don't think anyone is saying they are ubiquitous or required in the "new workplace." But since the topic of legality has come up, here is an article that reports that it is not only legal but students are fighting for them to be built where they don't yet exist: https://www.buzzfeed.com/davidpalumboliu/students-have-a-legal-right-to-safe-spaces

      It notes where there are de facto and de jure safe spaces. I'm sure there is a different nomenclature for the zone where they stand, but the point is they are indeed "safe spaces." And in a lot of cases they are temporary, as noted in the speaker example. There are also many, many instances of GRIEF counselors, something meant for school shootings, that come and console those who are hurt by something they heard at these speaking events. Something that no one is required to attend, mind you.

      Also, the only thing controversial about their existence is not whether they exist or not but that right-leaning people fight against creating such a zone.

      The same goes for workplaces (i.e. beanbag rooms). Like I said above, just because there isn't a placard that says "Safe Space Zone For Those That Are Triggered" doesn't make it untrue they exist. I could give a few anecdotal examples I have heard/seen but I'm not in the business of generalizing every workplace environment from that. For example, I would say an employee telling their employer they don't "feel comfortable" and would like to be exempted from something denotes a "safe space." No?

      Also, great Scrabble word. ;)

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  18. So you. Please don't stop that. Your improv is always getting better on the show. Enough kiss ass, you're smug as fuck. Please don't stop that either. I'm buying a hard copy of your book now. Thanks for all the entertainment.

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  19. You answer like someone taking a survey they don't care about, not someone who wants to do well on a test. So many non-answers and so much "I'm better than this" and "this isn't worth my time" being conveyed.

    I wish you actually took it more seriously because I do think you are very smart and I would be interested to see what you come up with for some answers if you took it seriously and addressed the questions.

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    1. Fair enough. Although I would offer that the majority of my answers were "serious".

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    2. 5, 10, 16, 22, 23, 24 ,25, 27 all backhanded non-answers. More than 25% of the survey! But yes, technically a majority were serious. I'm just saying I can see where he was coming from.

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  20. Chicken sausage? It doesn't make you a snow flake but it does make me question your judgement.

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    1. Heh. MUCH leaner, tastes shockingly similar to pork. These are the BREAKFAST sausages BTW - try them!

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    2. Which ones do you use? The regular, the spicy or the jalepeno flavored ones? I have tried the spicy before and it was good but I haven't tried it since. Which do you suggest and how do you cook it? Do you add anything? I have heard of sauteing pineapple with them.

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    3. Yeah, Trader Joe's does a pretty good chicken breakfast sausage - little heavy on the sage, but very flavorful.

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  21. This has nothing to do with the snowflake test, but during the show while you guys were discussing the windbreakers and Adam mentioned that he would want to have a youth league at some point, you quickly named the league "pop-a-boner warner". That was hilarious and Adam glossed right over it. Your comedic timing and quick thinking is now on par with your drops. Adam has definitely complimented you on it, but I think he misses a lot of good "zingers" that you throw out. Great job on the show. I have enjoyed listening to you as you become a stronger presence alongside Adam.

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  22. That survey was like every job interview anyone has ever had. You just answered the honest way that most people want to. We just can't cause they have us by the balls so we have to play ball (see what I did there)

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  23. I understand the reasoning behind giving someone a survey--weed out the ones who don't want to face a new challenge--but these questions are just bizarre. I wouldn't put too much weight on any answer unless it was something like "I quit my last job because my boss left the company after I stabbed him with a spork." The answers given were honest, from the heart answers--that's what should count.

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  24. This survey is retarded. The author of the survey sounds like a homo. Bad spelling and grammar makes someone a snowflake? The people I know who are hard as F couldn't give two shits about your essay skills. Fighting cancer makes you stronger than most. Glad you saw right through this pretentious wannabe.

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  25. BB - Please get an expert on interviewing to come on the show and discuss this (this was a poorly written behaviorally-based interview). All of the above comments regarding legality and "common-use" of such questioning is fair, but there are best practices. Basically, questions such as those on the "Snowflake" interview may/may not lead the hiring manager to a good selection. I think your audience is sharp enough to handle a follow-up.

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  26. Thank you for posting this. Between your responses and the comments on this post, I have learned a great deal!

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  28. This is exactly how I would have responded to this insane survey. Good on you sir.

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  29. Your answere to #26. Congrats everyone in Starbucks is dead now. Dont be a pussy take the gun and fight for ypur life.

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  30. you should never get a job answering hypothetical questions

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  31. Isn't "professional gambler" basically just a statistics aficionado? He needs to be book smart.

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  32. Clearly #16 is the best response. What are the odds that he actually read past that one? I think that did it for him.

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  33. If you were applying for the position of "that-guy-that-everyone-in-the-office-hates-and-promotes-team-building-as-they-secretly-talk-trash-about-you" you wouldn't even have to interview. Well done. You're hired.

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  34. You are a complete pain in the ass, first off. Just answer the questions with the information presented. Each question had plenty of information. Second, none of the questions are against the law for employment. They don't ask do you believe in God or any other form that could be discriminatory. You didn't agree with the survey and that's fine, but don't get upset when he said you were the worst.

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    1. He does sound like a pain in the ass employee however he is a great podcast sidekick! Love you BB!

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  35. So it wasn't at all clear to me from the show whether you were all asked to answer the questionnaire (1) as you would if it were presented by a prospective employer for your dream job; (2) as you would if you were trying to get a job with Kyle Reyes; or (3) as yourself, honestly, as if it were a random survey you were given for fun. You seem to have gone the #3 route, because your answers are combative and at times insulting to the author of the survey. So you wouldn't answer this way if you were really trying to get a job, would you?

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  36. You might be a snowflake if...
    You are offended by any of those questions.
    You have any strong emotions about any of those questions.
    You question the legality of any of those questions.
    You think the questions are meant to weed out any potential liberal employees.
    You think the questions are meant to weed out any conservative potential employees.

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  37. Yeah. I listened to the show and really have to agree with Bald on this one. The CEO is a jerk. If you were really the maverick you wanted to be, he would be able to call you in for an interview and get all the information he needed face to face, but instead relies on this passive aggressive test. You summed it up best when you wished him best of luck on his lawsuits.

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  39. Love ya, Bald, but some of your answers are douchey. I haven't listened to the episode yet... Tomorrow at the gym. ;-)

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  40. Fantastic answers to a wretched survey. I don't think anyone could've spitballed better replies. Especially on the "Who are your heroes?" one. Thanks for sharing!

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  41. I wouldn't hire you based on your answers,but I'm glad Adam did. I think he's fine legally on his survey but he does walk the line when he asks what faith means.

    I did enjoy the podcast and your answers though. Is Dawson a grouch irl?

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  42. First: I used to recruit people for a company with a very complicated hiring process which included essay writing, questionnaires, etc. If I would have received yours, I would have DEFINITELY interviewed you! While your answers may indicate a certain level of pain-in-the-assery, they also show that you think before responding.
    Second: Your assertion on ACS that the questions are discriminatory is correct. However, there are two forms of discrimination: legal and illegal. Illegal discrimination only concerns specific, defined groups focusing on such things as age, sex, gender identification, and religion. LEGAL discrimination can include requiring the applicant to be able to lift a certain weight, have a certain level of education, or even "fit in" with the company's culture (These requirements may, or may not, be strictly necessary for the job). So while you are correct that the questionnaire is discriminatory, unless it crosses the line into illegal discrimination, it is allowed regardless of how inane it seems to be. Crazy, huh?

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  43. The only thing this survey indicates is that the person who wrote it is the "jackass." How do you control for applicants knowing the direction of this inquiry and just pretending to follow suit? It appears that the thing this test is best at, is eliminating any free thinkers in the applicant pool. Great job "Silent" Partner, you sure are making a lot of noise about this stupid ass gate keeper test.

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