Thursday, 19 October 2017

Recruitment ineptitude and IKM test claptrap

Going off topic again, but hell it’s my blog, and this deserves remarking upon even if just for sake of catharsis. I believe sometimes in life you come across stuff that is so shit it actually took a special effort to be that shit; this is such an occasion.

I recently applied for a different role with my employer, a small step up the hierarchy, in a different department, but at a level I’ve operated at before. It was in the area of data visualisation, a currently trendy niche of Business Intelligence (BI). I’ve worked in BI for years, and data visualisation has been a significant part of that. I’m actually pretty happy in my current role, and there are significant dis-benefits to moving, but unfortunately it is about the only way someone like me can progress upwards so I had to try.

The spec asked for experience of one or more of a bunch of BI tools, there are lots of these out there, they’re much of a muchness and if you can use one you can normally pick up others quickly. I’d used some, but not all of them; and as none were listed as essential that was a tick. The spec also asked for experience and knowledge of a range of areas that are tangential or peripheral to data visualisation and BI. I have such experience, they are specialist areas in their own right and I’m not a specialist in them, but I’ve worked alongside side such specialists for a long time so know the ropes, just not to their level of expertise.

All this I made clear in my CV and covering letter, and that got me through to the next stage, an IKM technical assessment. This is where things took a turn for the bizarre. The test was supposed to be focused on data visualisation, but it only very briefly touched on the subject. Instead there were highly detailed questions on three of the software packages, two of which I’m not particularly familiar with, and none of which are regarded as leaders in the data visualisation space (curiously the job spec does pick out the leaders and I do have experience of them). The rest of the test was highly detailed questions relating to specialist areas tangential or peripheral to data visualisation.

I strongly suspect this IKM test was never designed to be about data visualisation, I’d estimate that less than 10% of the questions were specific to that subject. Instead it looks like someone, not really knowing much about data visualisation, bodged together parts of tests intended to assess certain other specialist subjects and called it a ‘data visualisation test’. It could be that IKM doesn’t have a genuine data visualisation test, it is quite niche, or it could be that the recruiting department asked IKM to bodge together some sort of weird multi-specialism test (the questions were too detailed to be general knowledge, but covered too many specialist niches to be on any one specialism). Whatever the truth it took some effort to put together something this shit.

I’ve made my feelings known to both IKM and to HR, but don’t expect any response. I’m just pissed off I wasted my time. Either the job title and spec should have been changed to reflect the essential skills required (I am sceptical about the number of specialisms required, as they’d typically be spread over four or five specialist roles in  a data and analytics team) or the test should have been focused on data visualisation with less detail on tangential and peripheral roles. My annoyance is tempered by the fact that success in gaining the role would have involved moving to a less convenient location, in a department that has a bad internal reputation for being inflexible, bureaucratic and generally behind the curve. The grass was never going to be greener on the other side, but it was at least a stepping stone. 

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