Friday, February 02, 2018

"one of the best things we've ever done"

Back in 2015, my boss asked me to design a test, a "language obstacle course," that could be used as a sort of hurdle to check the quality of potential hires. The point of the test was to keep people from getting a second interview with us if they couldn't show they had the linguistic chops to work for a textbook-publishing company. I designed the test, incorporating a few ideas from the boss, and was absurdly proud of the result. The test was a fairly balanced examination of a person's grammar knowledge, proofreading-terminology knowledge, and knowledge about English in general. It didn't incorporate a lot of "gotcha" questions or minor trivia; everything in the test was designed to be a fair check of a person's overall competency. In the beginning, the boss and I settled on a "pass" threshold of 80%, but over time, as we came to the depressing conclusion that most of our job applicants didn't have the first fucking clue about things like grammar (or even parts of speech), we lowered the threshold to 70%. When I was a kid going to school in Fairfax County, Virginia, a 70% was a D+, i.e., just above failing. Minimal competency, indeed.

We've had some staffing issues over the course of the past year; we've lost a few staffers and hired on a few more. We're currently understaffed, but the boss is picky about whom to hire. Human Resources recently told us that someone wanted to interview for a position in R&D (where I work); the boss grimaced and said okay, but it was obvious that, although he eventually wanted to hire someone, he didn't want to hire anyone right at this moment. The lady came in the other day, and as with all our other applicants, she sat for the test first. When it was over, she briefly interviewed with a staffer who had been tasked with doing the interview as a sort of polite formality; she ended up scoring a 65.5% on the test, so she basically failed, and we won't be talking with her again. When the boss saw the lady's score on the language obstacle course, he muttered to me, "That [test] is one of the best things we've ever done." I quietly grinned. The test has its flaws and needs some serious revisions, but I, too, think it's a great weapon that we forged almost three years ago.

In other, more somber, news, I informed the boss, in my nightly work-log email, that I'm 90% sure I'll be leaving the Golden Goose at the end of my current contract, which finishes on my birthday: August 31 of this year. I doubt he'll be happy to hear this: he's spoken, in the past, about my ascending to the shiljang position that he currently occupies, but I know for a fact that I don't have what it takes to be a manager of his caliber. I don't have the Korean-language skills, for one thing; I'm also averse to dealing with people in the way a manager must constantly do. I also have little understanding, even after nearly three years, of how this company works on the grand scale—how the various departments interconnect, how the money flows, what the flow chart of the company's power structure looks like, etc. I'd be a dumb, incompetent replacement for sure. There's a guy in my office, though, who would do a fantastic job of succeeding my boss, and my boss knows this, so my departure—assuming I do depart this year—shouldn't be all that painful.

No comments: