Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Test

I woke up today feeling pretty crummy. A few Tylenol later, the congestion had abated and things were as good as they were going to be. I headed for West Seattle a little after 9 and it was a beautiful day.

Once at the West Seattle Stadium, ran into one of the guys who interviewed me for the PEO position a few weeks ago. He greeted me by name and I thought, "Cool. He remembers me." Then I realized that he was expecting me and, after seeing the other folks arrive (all white, 4 guys, one girl), well, by process of elimination, he knew who I was. Or, as I like to think of it, I made a heck of an impression on my interview and, therefore was, unforgettable.

Anyway, after some waiting, we got started. The testers (all PEOs as well) lined us up at the track and had us do jumping jacks, minus the jumping. In other words, we were waving our arms in the air, waving them like we just didn't care. Or to 40 waves, whichever came first. Easy enough.

After the jumping jacks minus the jumping (does that make them simply "jacks"?), it was onto the track walk. We had 8.5 minutes to make two laps around the track. Half a mile in 8.5 minutes. Walk, run, crawl, skip, they didn't care. We just had to be under 8.5 minutes.

And, they're off!


We all started walking and, after about 100 yards or so, I was in last place. Short legs, you know. For real! Everyone else was taller and had long strides. One guy decided to start running, but the rest of us continued walking. Until I started strategizing, thinking that I wanted to show the PEOs that I wanted this job. So I started running, weird cold and all. I inhaled for 3 steps, exhaled for 3 steps and that was a good little rhythm. I kept pace with the first runner and made one lap.

Next thing I knew, the other 4 applicants were running and soon I was eating their fumes. Just watching them, I could tell that they were runners. They were fluid and graceful in their strides. Me? I was counting, "1, 2, 3..., 1, 2, 3..." and trying to keep pace. I then decided that I wasn't gonna finish last so I picked it up to a 4 stride pace and ended up passing the first guy at the 1.75 lap mark. I finished 5th and was sucking wind. Keep in mind, now, that this weird cold I have has been impacting my breathing a little, and I was on some meds, which have made me a little woozy at times. Not that I wouldn't have been sucking wind at 100% health, but that's beside the point, right?

Next up were the stations: cone placement; sign placement; scooter entry/exit; stair climb; wrist rotation.

At cone placement, there were two stacks of 10 cones each. Ten yards beyond the cones were 20 points, arranged in a pattern. We were to take one stack of cones and place the individual cones on each point in the pattern. Once cone 20 was placed, we were to retrieve the cones and bring them back to the original start point. The time limit was something like 3 minutes, so there was plenty of time. Apparently we were not in competition with the each other, but I still wanted to be speedy quick, so off I went.

(aside: 10 cones are kind of heavy!)

I started placing the cones, feeling a little winded still, and realized some cones were sticking together. No matter. I'd just shake them apart, right? Only they wouldn't come apart! So I'd put them on the ground and step on one while pulling the other off. That worked better and before long, I had placed all the cones, retrieved them all and sprinted (re: slogged) past the "finish" line. I forget what my time was, but I was done with that and it was onto the sign placement test.

At the sign placement, the PEO asked me to pronounce my name, and, in my winded condition, though I said, "Guh-won," I think he heard, "Juan." Sigh. Anyway, this test took place at the hammer toss pit (it's not a pit, but more like a point from which lines emanate from. I don't even know if it's the "hammer toss" either. It's the track and field event where the athlete holds a handle and spins in a circle. The centrifugal force picks up the weight on the other end, and after a few spins, release! Off it goes!). There were 4 "No Parking" A-frame signs. I was to take one, straddle it across the first line, skip a line, place a sign, etc, until all 4 signs were placed. Then pick them up and bring them back. Easy enough.

I grabbed 2 signs and off I went. I did a jog and got this task done quickly enough without pinching any fingers or hurting myself. I did suck more wind, though, and it was getting kind of embarrassing. I felt like an old man.

Next up was the scooter entry/exit test. For this test, you sat in the little 3 wheeled chariot (you've seen 'em) and held the chalk stick. You'd exit, mark the rear tire, go around back, mark the other tire, go around front, mark the front tire, and enter again where you exited from. Then you'd have a seat and exit the other way and do it again. So you were doing figure 8s, basically. That's all well and good, right? We had to do 12 circles (6 each side) and with my dizziness, it was tough. I was woozy already and this was a not so fun exercise. We had something like 3 minutes to do this and it was pretty much a no brainer.

From the scooter I headed to the stadium stairs. Each applicant had to climb the stadium stairs 3 times. I didn't count the stairs, but did tell the guy I had to catch my breath. I didn't catch him scowling at me, or playing the world's tiniest violin, but I did feel lame telling him that I'd been sick (his response? "Yeah, lots of people have been sick." I.E.: cry me a river). I did the stairs and for the first two trips, felt pretty good. On the third trip up, my legs were getting a little weird, but I made it and was able to hobble over to the next station.

The wrist rotation station consisted of holding a flashlight in one hand, with arm parallel to the ground. We had to point the flashlight up, pause, point it forward, pause, point it up, pause, point it backward, pause, then back up, for one minute. Supposedly, this was to test shoulders. I guess if I had shoulder issues, this would've been difficult. As it was, it was nice to be able to not have to exert myself anymore (how pathetic am I?). Mary (the tester) and I joked around and she told me about the job. I repeated the exercise on my other hand (right, if you must know), and that was that for that. She did hand me a whistle to see if I could do the stop signal (long whistle... fade a little, then a staccato punch) and go signal (two quick punches), and I passed that with flying colors.

So, that, in a gigantic nutshell, was my morning at the West Seattle Stadium. A whole half hour worth of "testing". I'm confident that everyone that took the test this morning with me passed easily. How the HR department at the City of Seattle filters through the results will be interesting. Though we weren't in direct competition, I can't see how the HR people would look at it otherwise ("That spunky kid that came in second to last in the run/walk. He's got spirit. Let's hire him!" Yeah, right!).

They said we'd be contacted sometime this week with further instructions. I hope I met their needs today. It would be cool to move onto phase 4 of this hiring process. If not, all I'll have to show for it is a free whistle.