English: Daventry: job centre

Daventry: job centre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t you just love the bureaucratic mind? Earlier this week my attention was drawn to the DWP’s “Signature Strengths” questionnaire. Apparently, failure to complete said questionnaire can lead to people losing their Job Seeker’s Allowance.

Unfortunately, the questionnaire was lifted sourced from the US-based VIA Institute on Character where is has been discovered to have rather less scientific credibility than the The Sun’s astrology column.

In the interests of scientific rigour (signature strengths 1&2 – see below), I tried the test and the results looked plausible. Problems start to appear when you input different answer combinations (although you do not, as reported by some sources, always get the same answers).

The test works by giving you 48 statements and, for each statement, you have to check a box in the range “Very like me” to “Very unlike me”.

If you always check the first box, you get exactly the same results as if you always check the last box.

If you always check the answer that shows you in the least flattering light, you should get a result along the lines of “You are a self-centred, rude, nasty, racist sociopath and nobody likes you much – nobody in their right mind is going to give you a job”. What it actual says is:

This exercise has been shown to find peoples’ strengths in scientific studies and you may find it useful to identify your strengths and use them to inform your job search, CV or use in interviews. You may also find it useful to try to incorporate your strengths in your daily life and play to them whenever you can.

You should aim to use your strengths whenever you can. This could be in your job search choices, your CV or at interviews. You could also apply these to your daily life. You should aim to use each one of your signature strengths in a new way everyday (sic) for at least a week.

 Strength 1. Perspective

Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your advice on matters. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.

Strength 2. Honesty

You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth, but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense (sic).

Strength 3. Carefulness

You are a careful person. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.

Strength 4. Modesty

You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. Others recognize and value your modesty.

Strength 5. Teamwork

You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.

For the record, the results when I did the test honestly are reproduced below. Critical Thinking, Curiosity and (to a point) Love of Learning are OK. Not sure about Enthusiasm and can’t possibly comment (for obvious reasons) on Modesty. Can’t help wondering what the results would have been if I’d told them I was a Pisces.

Strength 1. Critical Thinking

Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

 Strength 2. Curiosity

You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Strength 3. Love of learning

You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Strength 4. Modesty

You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. Others recognize and value your modesty.

Strength 5. Enthusiasm

Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or half-heartedly. For you, life is an adventure.

DWP Signature Strengths test
Original article (Guardian Newspapers)