for a job at Blockbuster Video?
You won't get a paper application. The retailer will now send you
to a small computer or to the Internet to fill out an application
and answer some questions.
From there, you might get a call for an interview if your answers
fit the mold of the employee they are looking for.
Companies, especially retailers such as Pathmark Stores and Circuit
City as well as restaurant chains, are turning to technology for
help filling hourly positions, such as sales and customer-service
Neptune, N.J., resident Adam Custer, 21, expected a paper application
form at Blockbuster Video, but was directed instead to a small keyboard
under a sign that read “Welcome to our Employment Center.”
“I was just hoping for a paper application. I could do it at home,”
said Custer, who instead spent 40 minutes in the store answering
questions and got a job there later.
Custer used a computerized system to fill out a job application
at Target as well. “Every place is going to be using it,” Custer
Here's how it works. Some stores use terminals or small computers
equipped with a telephone. You give not only the basics, such as
name, Social Security number and address, but you also are asked
to answer a series of questions seeking to gauge your personality.
Technology can now how help managers screen out potential bad fits,
employees who may not work out. For instance, the system used by
Blockbuster scores applicants and uses a color coding system of
green, yellow and red, with red being less desirable.
“Companies are having a difficult time finding quality people,”
said Kevin Rutherford president of PeopleMax, a human relations
consulting company in Houston, Texas. “The standard for the average
hourly worker is a lot higher than it used to be years ago. Now
they are requiring you to not only have great customer service skills,
you have to be friendly, fast and efficient.”
And not only that. Companies want to find employees who will stay
put. Turnover is an expensive problem, costing firms companies about
$600 per employee to replace, not counting the expense of retraining,
The computerized process takes some of the subjectivity out of
hiring workers. “Every single applicant is evaluated using the same
exact criteria,” said Charles Handler, owner of Rocket-Hire, a New
Orleans consulting firm that helps companies chose assessment tools.
“You really want to find out when the rubber meets the road, ‘Does
this person have the ability to do the job or think a certain way?”'
In a system developed by Unicru Inc., applicants can be asked a
series of questions meant to determine a person's traits in the
areas of customer service, dependability and job retention, among
For instance, you might be asked to what degree you agree with
the following statements:
- You have confidence in yourself.
- You keep calm under stress.
- You criticize people when they deserve it.
- You agree with people more than you argue.
Employers also can use the system to perform background checks
or make sure Social Security numbers are valid.
Raymond Olewine, manager of the Blockbuster Video store in Eatontown,
N.J., said the system has increased the number of applicants for
jobs. In the “old days” of paper applications, only 5 percent to
10 percent would be returned, he said.