Resharing: IBM's a**hole Test

Came across this post the other day:

IBM's a**hole test - Published on May 4, 2022

Some years back I applied to join IBM's grad scheme, there was a peculiar stage to the process I've not seen elsewhere. It was during the onsite day, where a batch of 20 or so applicants were put through various tests in an IBM office. They called it the "group test"; around 8 of us were led to a room and asked to solve a puzzle together. Each of us was given an information pack, there was a white board, and a timer ticking down from 60 minutes. At first there was silence as we looked at our packs, then the first voice: "Let's pool our information", someone stands up by the whiteboard, grasping a marker. Silence, it's not clear how this information should be parsed. One person starts reading theirs out word for word. This is not going to scale. Someone interrupts. Before long the whiteboard leader has been deposed and another is wielding the marker. Then another fights for control. The 60 minutes has run out, the puzzle is unsolved. Confused and drained we head off to the next test.

At the end of the day the group is split into two rooms, my room is given the good news and I go on to join the grad scheme. Six months later I am shadowing a colleague who is running the "group test". I asked him if he'd ever seen a group complete the test? "Oh, it's not about that, this is an a**hole test. You see who turns into an asshole under pressure and they don't make it to the next round".


I'll leave it to you as to whether you'd want to run a similar test with prospective hires, but I think it's always a good reminder to anyone:

  • don't dominate the conversation, 
  • get input from others, and
  • don't substitute analysis paralysis with analysis tactlessness.


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