William Fretz Kemble.

Choosing employees by mental and physical tests online

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to learn the job. The data we have collected, however,
are not conclusive and are applicable only to the par-
ticular jobs we dissected. Except in work hard to
learn, no experience factor which we attempted to
apply resulted in anything but a serious disturbance



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LIFE-CONTACT KNOWMIDGB 113

to the results of the other tests, showing that it was
not vital; but in jobs intricate and diflScult to learn,
it is evidently an element which must be calculated.

In computing experience factors the time element
can be ignored entirely if a set of standard tests can
be originated for particular jobs. As an instance of
this, we made a series of tests on forty typists to find
what was the average efficiency to be expected in that
field. We took records of speed and accuracy in typing
and of accuracy in stenographic work, securing the fol-
lowing data :

The average speed of typists from copy is 38 words
per minute.

The average accuracy of typists from copy is 97.7
per cent.

The average accuracy of stenographic reproduction
is 95.9 per cent.

Counting twelve words to the line, this last record
means that on the average one error occurred in every
other line. For simplifying ratings 1 per cent was
deducted for an error in spelling, capitals, punctuation,
or spacing. Subjects making over 10 per cent of er-
rors were not considered in the average since they
could hardly be called typists.

In taking such records as these the average depends
largely on the conditions you make. These tests were
all of subjects without a job at the time. In ordinary
business, the speed, according to tests made at the
Curtis Publishing Company, does not exceed 14 words
a minute, but the accuracy is much greater owing to the
acquaintance which a typist soon acquires with the
terminology of her employer. The reason why the
speed is so astonishingly less in actual practice is the
lack of the competitive stimulus, present in the above



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114 CHOOSING EMPLOYEES

test, and the fact that most employers have no interior
standard of work.

Below will be found five highway-inspector expe-
rience tests from a New York civil-service exami-
nation, which will exemplify the very good work of
most government examiners in this line.

What are slope stakes and how are they set in staking out
highways!

How would you determine the value of road metal by in-
spection in the quarry or gravel pit?

What precautions should be taken to insure the stability of
a road built along a wet clay hillside?

What causes led to the introduction of bituminous binders
for highway surfacing! Explain their purpose and describe
a method of applying them.

What are the distinctive characteristics of trap, limestone,
gneiss and slate rocks; and of yellow pine, spruce, hemlock
and red oak lumber?

The above examples are typical of what can be ac-
complished in all experience tests. Any manufactur-
ing enterprise with a steady output of a standard prod-
uct can standardize the time and accuracy in produc-
ing one or more units of that product, and have a
machine set aside for the use of the employment de-
partment to try out applicants on the work of the unit
with which they claim familiarity or experience. For
instance, the machinist can be tested by the selection of
the tools to do his work, by the time of setting up a
standard piece, by the time and accuracy in making
his cuts, taking out and laying his finished product
on the bench. The bookkeeper can be tested by mak-
ing a set of standard entries in a dununy set of books
as shown in Chapter II. The weaver can be tested by



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LIFE*CONTACT KNOWLEDGE 115

his speed in knotting a hundred threads on a dummy
frame. In fact, a little ingenuity on the part of an
employment expert will enable him to find some means
of originating an experience test wherever necessary.
Languages are generally acknowledged to be of little
commercial use unless acquired by actual life con-
tact. Their importance in any work on Labor Stand-
ardization consists in the fact that they have to be
considered, since nearly all our manufacturing in this
country is now done by the imported foreign element.
A foreman has to be either a versatile linguist or an
expert motion artist. Many million dollars' worth of
work is spoiled yearly in this country through the in-
ability of our foremen to convey some delicate phase
of thought into a foreign head. To overcome this diffi-
culty, some factories have classes in English while
others have made arrangements with the public school
authorities to have their employees taught during cer-
tain hours; so the discussion of this subject is by no
means academic. In fact, it is one of the greatest prob-
lems confronting the standardizer, for it is essential
to him that he be able to talk to, or to make the for-
eign worker understand him. Personally, the author
is good on imitation, but foreign grammar has always
been an unfathomable mystery to him. For some time
he had to work through interpreters and the tests on
foreigners w^ere useless, but the reason of failure was
finally discovered. The interpreter he used was a
bright girl who could speak most of the foreign lan-
guages but, since our work is largely class work, the
difficulty seemed to consist in testing several national-
ities at the same time. When classes were made of
but one nationality the results came out with almost
the certainty which we had already acquired in Eng-



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116 CHOOSING EMPLOYEES

lish. The interpreter did not take the words sentence
by sentence, but learned the complete system of tests
and put them through without any interruption from
the author. If these points are observed, no special
dif5&culties will be met in testing the foreign element
with an intelligent interpreter assistant.

As to rating the language element for a given job, it
is only a problem of the expense in teaching the em-
ployee; since after the job is once learned it is not
much of a factor.

Language must of necessity be a factor in commerce,
where a firm deals with foreign countries or foreign
customers at home; and where it is an element of a
job, the standardizer can have two foreign letters writ-
ten by a language professor and translated into Eng-
lish. These letters can be given the subject to trans-
late, one into English and the other into the language
imder test. By this means the standardizer can test
his subject without being himself a linguist. As an
easy test we asked fifty subjects to translate the single
sentence, **Time waits for no man,'' into as many lan-
guages as they knew. For ordinary purposes this is
enough of a test unless the subject is to have constant
contact with a certain language. Under the heading,
** Languages,'' in our index card, each language can
receive its special rating.

Terminology lists are a means of finding a subject's
acquaintance with the terms in any line of business.
They cover a wide field of information regarding a per-
son in a very short time. If a man professes to be
acquainted with the shoemaking line, a test as to his
knowledge of the trade terms of that business will
soon tell whether he is bluffing or not; and so it will
in any profession. If a subject gives a list of places in



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LIFE-CONTACT KNOWLEDGE 117

which he has been employed, a terminology list will
tell whether he has profited thereby and may even tell
that he has been lying. Such lists also give confirma-
tory ratings on general information, as they may be
made to cover a wide range of terms. If the subject
under test cannot spell well he will have to be. asked
what the terms mean. If he can spell, his ability to
recognize the words is usually all that is necessary.
The list shown in Chapter II consists of the terms used
in a number of professions, the most of them being
wrongly spelled. If a subject is fairly educated he
will be able to cross the wrongly used letters, provided
he knows the vocation. This test is so arranged as to
minimize the time factor both of the subject and the
standardizer. It can be given in class work, and since
no definitions or words have to be" written out it can be
made quickly and rated almost inistantaneously by plac-
ing a correctly marked tracing cloth or celluloid sheet
over the copy. If the subject's record corresponds
with the record on the transparent marking sheot, he
is correct. If the subject had to write out all these
words, the difficulty in interpreting ordinary writing
would make this such a tedious job as to tempt one to
abandon it where time is a factor. This test at the
same time gives a spelling rating.

One can easily see that in testing a stenographer
for a certain job this record is almost a necessity. A
stenographer who got only two of the electrical words
and the whole ten real-estate terms would certainly
cause profanity for a time in an electrical concern
while she might be a treasure for a realty man. In
fact, we have found in actual tests that a good typist
is utterly at sea if she does not know the terms of the
business in which she is working.



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118 CHOOSING EMPLOYEES

Terminoloy lists may be made to reveal other
things, as the discerning can figure out for themselves,
as for instance the sporting, religious and social pro-
clivities evidenced by familiarity with the relative
terminologies in the example given.

The one hundred words here shown cover a wide
range. Any business can compile a hundred words
especially in its own line, divided into sub-lists by
which the examiner can determine a subject ^s acquaint-
ance with the terms of various departments in the line
handled.

Ratings cannot always be taken on a terminology
list according to the apparent mark made, but often
consist in a ratio between the record of the whole list
and a particular list. The highest general record made
in this test was 95, achieved by an editorial proof-
reader, indicating that it would be an excellent test
for printers and copy readers. The average among in-
telligent people runs about 86. The averages were not
computed on exactly the same words we have given,
but the same classes and elements were used, so that
they will probably not vary materially therefrom.



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Chapter X
HEARSAY (AUTHORITY)

Education and Reading, Mathematics, Religion

Tests: Employment-blank tests for authority. Education
tests ; grammar, composition, geography. Adding test, patient
analytical detail test, ethical test.

Application to stenographers, correspondents, insurance
agents, and bookkeepers.

. Parents the final authority to small children, teacher as
authority, text-books as authority. The superstition of the
printed page. Print a great influence. Popular leaders as
authority. Authority a component of many qualities. How
education average is reckoned. Sentiment and prejudice for
and against education. Education a weakening influence.
The well-balanced race. Power of visualizing in mathematics.
Relation of religion to business. Moral state of factories.
Jewish factor in business. Honesty, breaking point in hon-
esty. Fidelity-company methods and their success.

i^NE of the greatest influences in the formation of
^^ character is the relative subservience to author-
ity. In the business world it has been given recog-
nition only as obedience to orders.

Authority with almost equal justice can be made to
take the place of hearsay as a main source of memory,
for education, reading, and popular opinion become
authority for beliefs or facts of memory in all minds.
Our only excuse for not making this subject a main

119



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120 CHOOSING EMPLOYEES

feature of our analysis is that hearsay, as shown in
our diagram, is more directly in antithesis to life-con-
tact knowledge. As we have formerly noted, all au-
thority should be classed as hearsay unless verified by
experience.

We would define ** authority''^ as a foundation for
belief. One of our humorists has said that up to six
years of age he thought his father was the infallible
exponent of ultimate knowledge. Between six and
twelve, things happened to undermine this faith. Be-
tween twelve and eighteen he was entirely disillusioned
and found out his father was a back number and knew
nothing at all. When he reached twenty-five he grudg-
ingly acknowledged his father must have known some-
thing. When he reached forty he knew his father was
the smartest man that ever lived. Here we have an il-
lustration of authority. To the small child the parent
is the foundation of belief, for the baby looks to his
parents usually as the basis of all knowledge outside of
his experience. At the earliest age a baby, however,
will back his own experience against the hearsay as-
sertions of parents — for example, when a parent tells
a child continually that it will be punished and then
never carries out the threats ; but outside of such ac-
tual experience, the babe places implicit faith in its
parents and will believe the most fabulous fairy tales.
When the child goes to school the teacher becomes the
principal source of authority and the printed page
is the fountain of ** truth.*' With nine out of ten
pupils, in our observation, the teacher and the printed
page of a text-book are final as a basis for belief even
to the end of a college course. A boy who can doubt
such source is looked upon with pity by his associ-
ates. You will note the importance of this ; for many



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ii



HEABSAY AND AUTHORITY 121

fallacies instilled by text-books and professors become
facts'' of memory upon which the boy is going to
base his future actions. Fortunately, school knowl-
edge is usually correct, but for real advance in civili-
zation we have to depend largely upon the one boy in
ten who doubts.

People are almost superstitious in their belief in
the printed page as an authority, and the manufacturer
attaches too little significance to the immense influence
of printed mottoes through his works, and of the in-
sertion of some printed truth in the pay envelope.
Such efforts to control opinion would be almost in-
fallible were it not for the one workman in ten who
has the independence to disbelieve and to formulate an
opposite wave of public opinion which may become just
as strong a basis of authority. The United States
Steel Corporation is using the printed- word idea in its
** Safety First'' campaign, by impressing safety mot-
toes on the minds of its men through stereopticon ex-
hibits at the factory gates at night. The superstition
of the printed word is at the basis of all advertising.
The printed word sways the popular opinion in news-
paper and magazine articles and is the root of the in-
sane political warfare against big business.

Other sources of authority are popular leaders, as
illustrated in gang leaders, labor leaders, politicians,
etc. Still others are priests, preachers, and religion ;
and finally, should be ourselves and the facts of our
experience, although this last would change our analy-
sis.

As a test for a person's reliance for action on au-
thority, the answers to the questions of belief on our
employment blank will prove valuable ; and the answers
to our questions in the personal opinion test, in Chap-



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122 CHOOSING EMPLOYEES

ter II, will show, with the greatest precision, an appli-
cant 's reliance on this element of authority.

In business life the importance of this subject lies
in its influence on an employee's obedience, in the
credence he will give to labor disturbers, and in the
independence of his mind in working out new problems.
One who is accustomed to accept authority is inclined
to be more obedient than one of independent thought.
By wise control of this factor the business world could
formulate the thought of its employees so that it would
be beneficial, instead of detrimental as it now often is.

It s said that by instilling faith in the authority of
religion Russia sways its army, and by instilling faith
in the authority of the State, Germany sends her mil-
lions to the sacrifice. Coercive authority can rarely
be used in America. We have to be hypnotized at least
into the belief that we are moving of our own free will,
although we rarely do so.

Authority is a component entering into nearly all
the mental characteristics. In our diagram it may be
considered a calculable factor entering into everything
placed to its right. It, or the lack thereof, is espe-
cially strong in reasoning, imagination, egotism, am-
bition, will, accuracy, reliability, invention, disposition,
and executive ability. In our index card it receives
its direct rating under ** Obedience ;'' and under ** Ego-
tism*' as a negative factor thereof.

In relating authority to the memory basis of per-
sonality, it has its importance in the credence which
we give to the **facts'' recorded in our mind. It can
be estimated very closely mathematically by the ques-
tion-and-answer systems which we have outlined in the
employment blank.

Some interesting questions are open for solution in



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HEARSAY AND AUTHORITY 123

this subject : for instance, is the person who is suscep-
tible to popular opinion equally influenced by leader-
ship of strong personalities, or by the printed page, or
by religion? What weight has authority in compiling
records for the various characteristics!

The greatest and most dependable source of author-
ity, outside of ourselves, is education, and it requires
our first consideration under this head.

Having already treated knowledge from the life-con-
tact view, we will accept the common idea of ** educa-
tion'* as ** knowledge acquired from books and teach-
ers. '* The boundary line between life-contact knowl-
edge and knowledge acquired by reading or other au-
thority, or hearsay, is not distinctly defined. The
things we learn in school do not stay with us usually
unless we have some use of them in after life. Our
** education '^ was a quick cramming of the **facts'' of
life into a youthful brain, all of which we forgot unless
our reading or experience called them up again, in
which case they became in a large measure life-contact
knowledge; so that, while theoretically we can make a
distinction, in actual practice book education and 06-
servation become mixed in our minds.

In order to save time in tests, we usually take our
ratings in composition or grammar and in writing
from answers to other questions in the employment
blank ; in spelling, from the terminology list ; in geog-
raphy, from terminology and from the geographical
problem in the *' Patient Analytical Detail Tesf of
Chapter II. No strictly educational tests are given
except where needed.

We made some tests as to the influence of education
on the work of forty typists who were applying for a
position. By the use of the law of extremes the un-



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124 CHOOSING EMPLOYEES

educated and the educated made the same speed rec-
ords, showing that it did not affect the rapidity of their
work when they wrote from copy. However, when we
came to test their ability at stenography, education was
found to \)e a very material factor in a ratio of approx-
imately two 'to one in favor of high intelligence. This
is obvious from the fact that the stenographer has to
have a large vocabulary, which can be acquired only
by experience either in life or book knowledge. A
large part of our hearing ability is based on a knowl-
edge of what our companions should say, rather than
on our perception of the actual sounds, so that if a
stenographer has not the knowledge of educated lan-
guage and technical terminology, she is all at sea in
reproduction, and anyone who has experience with
stenographers will recognize this immediately.

Education is an important factor in all branches of
clerical and correspondence work, and for this reason
many firms are setting examination standards in this
line for employees, notably the National Cloak and
Suit Company, the Curtis Publishing Company, and
nearly all the life-insurance companies. The civil serv-
ice tests are nearly all pure tests of education. These
examinations do not differ materially from school
methods, except that the test in composition is usually
a direct application to the business. The National
Cloak and Suit Company makes an applicant answer a
correspondent's letter asking questions about the com-
pany's line of goods. The Curtis Company asks the
applicant to write a letter to a discouraged agent. Mr.
Sherwin Cody, of Chicago, has compiled a series of
tests in this line.

Where school education is an important factor, tests
are of such nature that any well-educated person can



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HEARSAY AND AUTHORITY 125

compile them, and the ground has been so thoroughly
covered by others that it is not necessary to give ex-
amples of such tests here.

In compiling averages for education we allow 2
points for the ability to read and write as/ indicated
by the answers to the questions, 3 more* pomts for a
common school education, and 2 points additional each
for high school and college, with a final point for extra
graduate work or business courses. It will be seen
that we concede here the popular definition of educa-
tion, and that the points are allowed regardless of how
much actual loiowledge the subject has absorbed.
Under the system of testing the tests, according to the
law of extremes no weight is given to any quality which
a trial has not found essential to a particular job, so
that a record of 10 for education may not even be
given consideration if it is otherwise covered, or if
the vocation is one not requiring education. Thus we
have a definite law to solve the side of this question
which is usually determined by sentiment or prejudice.

Before leaving this subject it is necessary to discuss
it from this very standpoint of sentiment or prejudice.
The latter element is exemplified by a man we knew
who achieved a high place in the railroad world — ^but
he had to do it surreptitiously, fearing the while le^
some enemy discover that he was a college graduate.
The sentimentalists, at the other extreme, almost deify
education and are embarrassing the business of this
country by extreme laws endeavoring on the one hand
so to educate the youth of the nation that it will not
stoop to anything but sweet and clean antiseptic jobs,
and on the other hand striving to shut out the unedu-
cated foreigners who are our only resource for the
dirty jobs, if they succeed in their first ambition.



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126



CHOOSING EMPLOYEES



As to those who are prejudiced against education,
they have often had some bitter experience in which
an educated man has made some costly mistake due to
his lack of the life-contact knowledge. In our manual-
training course we learned to mortise and tenon the
studs and sills of a house, but we found later in actual
practice that these were always nailed together. We
learned at school how to calculate the stresses in beams.
We found that in actual business these are usually
taken from tables. We tested a mechanical draughts-
man on a problem of the waste in cutting out a pat-
tern from metal plates. He used intricate processes
and class-room formulae and at the end of half an hour
gave us an answer nearly right. The correct answer
could be given in a minute by a short-cut rule.

Such experiences as these prejudice some men
against education. They are faults not so much of
education as of some methods of education, and we
believe that experience proves that the usual high
school and college graduate will go further than the
uneducated, practical man, even in the mechanical
world, after he has once had the necessary practical
experience. Since college graduates are few in com-
parison to the population, it is significant that so many
managers of large corporations are college-bred.

Outside of mechanical lines there can be no doubt
of the value of education, especially in some lines of
salesmanship, as witness the following statistics of
insurance agents, compiled by Mr. Edward A. Woods.



Average salaries over


$25,000


$10,000


$5,000


$2,500


Number of men rated


8


58


111


143


Attended college


5


16


43


50


Did not


3


42


38


54


Had high-school education


8


39


81


104


Had not




19


30


39



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HEABSAY AND AUTHORITY 127

It will be noted from the above that 100 per cent


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Online LibraryWilliam Fretz KembleChoosing employees by mental and physical tests → online text (page 8 of 22)