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Applying for work at Fred Meyers in Oregon

 
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brian-hansen
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:55 pm    Post subject: Applying for work at Fred Meyers in Oregon Reply with quote

Quote:
My friend is applying for a job for a large employer
in the retail field. She is asked for a user name and a
password, and then a "restart code". She comes into
the other room and asks what a restart code is. I have
no idea. When I see the screen, I understand the context
and realize that with this code she can log in at a later
time and "restart" entering her application information.
But why a separate password for "restarting"? She already
gave a password. Bad design.

She's filling in information on a past employer. It wants the
street address. She doesn't have that information here. No
other online application has ever asked for it, nor have any
asked it of me. Someone who designed this program figures
if some information is good, more is better. How many people
remember the street address of all their former employers?
And how is it relevant? Honestly, is the HR department going
to write a letter to your former employer? Visit them?

She's stuck. She hates computers, and doesn't have that
information, so she's ready to quit. Naturally, I persevere.
Just leave it blank. It isn't reasonable to expect you to
provide that information. You've given the employer name,
city, state, and phone. That should be enough. I note to myself
that it isn't marked as a required field. But, of course, it
is required, as later shown by a pop-up.

Problems cascade on problems to the point where only the
adaptable can succeed. It shouldn't be asked for, because
the applicant not having the information can become discouraged.
But it is asked for. It shouldn't be required, but it is. It's required,
but that is not indicated on the screen (I note, in passing, that this
3rd problem is just an example of the larger class of "hidden
requirements").

She's ready to quit. Already beaten down. Me, I'm adaptable.
I fill in something like "N/A" and proceed.

She can look up the street addresses of her past employers, but not
right now, so we skip entering her other employers' information,
because we can "restart" her application when she's gotten that
information at hand.

The application takes on a disturbing tone asking her to agree
or disagree, strongly or not, to a series of 3 questions that filled
a screen. I forget the exact wording, but it reminded me of the
movie "The Parallax View". I like working with other people more
than working alone. It's okay to take it easy at work if you
didn't get a raise. Sometimes other people misunderstand my
motives. Strongly agree, agree, disagree, disagree strongly.

Okay. Creepy, right? Maybe I don't want the job that badly.
As an experienced person, I know what the "right" answers are.
As an adaptable person, I can skip over the nuance and score
well on the test. I won't be able to go up to the teacher at the
end of class and explain that I knew what answer they expected,
but why my answer was better. As an ethical person, I'd like
to be truthful to the greatest extent, giving correct, but "wrong"
answers where appropriate. I'm just glad it wasn't me having to
answer these questions and ponder my ethical position with
regards to each one. Here, by asking these foolish, intrusive
questions, the system is making a liar out of anyone with the
wits enough to know what is the expected answer.

For once, the interface designer had some pity on us, though
I didn't appreciate it at the time. In the upper right corner of
the screen it said we were on the first page out of 33! That
make a total of about 100 questions of this type!

Another man would've stopped right there. But she really
needed a job, and I was helping her, so I persevered. Obviously,
this wasn't an interface problem, but some deeper problem
with the company management. My opinion is that the
questions were worse than useless, in that they discouraged
or made liars of most of those they were posed to. Even if some
of the questions were useful, 33 pages of questions was an undue
burden for someone just applying for some entry level job,
putting purchases in bags, or helping customers find items.

Once again, problems mount upon problems until most will
be turned away or discouraged. It comes across as arrogance
because that is what it is. Fill out these 33 pages of forms,
giving us insight into your personality, never mind how the
results will be used, and maybe we'll call you (but probably
not). Maybe I should prepare a 33-page series of questions
to give to my prospective employer next time I apply for a job.
Yeah, right. I recognize merit when employees do good work
and thank or reward them. The rules apply equally to workers,
management, and upper management. Being punctual is not
as important as doing a good job. Agree strongly, agree,
disagree, disagree strongly. Diagnosis: corporate arrogance
reflected onto a web application. Why do we put this burden
on you, force you to psychoanalyze yourself, put you in
an ethically compromising position, and ask you (some) questions
we have no right to ask? Because we can. We bought some
canned questionnaire system from some vendor and tacked it
onto our application process.

The designer had the good sense not to tell her how she scored
on the test: "13-16 points: you are borderline obsessive-compulsive..."

Okay. So we get through those. And then we're done. It
thanks her for applying, and that's it. No application #. Nothing.
And it never asked her to confirm her application. Remember,
we were going to "restart" when she had the useless past
employer street address information at hand. It went straight from
asking the hundredth question ("I enjoy working with challenging
people. Strongly agree, etc.") to thanking her for her application.
(I wonder whether there might have been a summary/confirmation
screen before they tacked on the personality questionnaire.
Another reason to hate it.)

Okay. That's strange, but she can go back and update that information
because she has both a password and a "restart code", right?
Which one should she use? Neither, it turns out, though it made
no sense to me at the time. Evidently, a restart code was no
longer needed because she had completed her application.
No wonder they used such an odd term. They probably spent
as much time coming up with "restart code" as they did designing
the rest of the program.

Okay, then. Well she's apparently sent her application showing
only one past employer to that particular store that she clicked on
to start the application process going. There are a bunch of them
in this city, and many are not too far away to commute. If we can't
restart this application, then we'll fill in the extra details and send
the improved application to the other stores. Like I said, I'm
adaptable. But I'm not finding where it asks for her username and
password. It certainly complains when I enter her restart code.
It can't find anything like that to restart. What I slowly realized and
what was confirmed a few days later is that they don't make her
application information available to her online. She has to go through
that same hour-plus-long, bug-ridden, arrogant process for every store
she wants to apply to, even though they are only a mile apart.
Apparently, my adaptability wasn't very helpful in this case, and she
refused to submit again to this process. And so would I.

And of course, there is no alternative. You can't fill out a paper
application, much less just show up on their doorstep and say
you want a job.

And I blame interface design. In this case, it was not just bad,
but capricious and unpredictable. It gave the impression that
your application was being saved for you to modify when it wasn't.
It allowed the employer to easily just tack on some intrusive,
burdensome pop-psychology magazine quiz on the end, and
end without warning. It hid its incompetence in made up
terminology ("restart code"). It made information that shouldn't
even be requested to be required. The failings of this system
go straight from the people that ordered it made, all the way
down to the poor programmer who had to decide what fields
were required. The whole spectrum (requirements, analysis,
design, coding, testing) contributed to the making this system
virtually unusable.


(excerpted)
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brian-hansen
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can it be just coincidence that I sat down for lunch at a conference today (Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference - http://pnsqc.org) with part of the QA team that manages this website? After all, I don't get out all that much.

I gave them this link, and I'd like to think I'll get a Kronos coffee mug out of this. I just hope they remember that a t-shirt (XL) admirably protects coffee mugs from breakage during shipment.
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brian-hansen
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update: still no word from Kronos. I prefer white or light-color t-shirts
over black, or darker colors. By the way, I can translate what I wrote
into "constructive criticism", if you like.
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brian-hansen
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still no mug. I wonder if Kronos still provides Fred Meyer with such bad software, and if they still don't mind my saying so.
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Visit the Instant Postcard Collection @ http://instant-postcard-collection.com
Looking for postcards of that favorite place? Family origins? Or that perfect vacation, except for the photos?
Researching your dissertation? Serious collector? Just looking for something neat?
You've found the right place to add to your existing collection, or to start a new one.
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