Really No Way to Study for Employee-Selection Tests

Question: I am a candidate for a job. The company says I must take a psychological test before being hired. What can I do to prepare for such a test?

--T.M., Fullerton Answer: A wide variety of tests are used in employee selection. Some of them measure specific, job-related knowledge. Others evaluate cognitive or problem-solving skills, and still others measure work-related personality characteristics. There are also "integrity tests" designed to measure an applicant's honesty and dependability.

Aside from job-related knowledge tests, there is really no way to study for psychological screening. In fact, it can be risky to try to "beat" psychological tests, for many of them contain "distortion" or "lie" scales designed to measure whether a test-taker is purposely trying to respond in the "correct" way.

My advice is simply to relax and answer the questions honestly. If you have the job-related characteristics that the company is seeking, you will pass the test.

--Ron Riggio, professor of industrial and organizational psychology, Cal State Fullerton

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Question: I'm pregnant. My employer told me that I can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave when my baby arrives in November. But a friend says that, according to the Federal Family Leave Act, I am allowed to take as much as 12 weeks this year and another 12 weeks in 1995. The allotment, she says, is 12 weeks for each calendar year within the first 12 months after the baby is born. Which is correct?

--J.M., Huntington Beach

Answer: There are actually three different laws that deal with this topic: federal and state family leave acts and the California Pregnancy Disability Act. So employers are understandably having some difficulty determining how each law relates to the others.

If you are disabled because of pregnancy or pregnancy-related illness, you may use as much as four months of leave (based on disability needs only) under the California Pregnancy Disability Act. You can then use another 12 weeks under the California Family Leave Act, if you meet the eligibility requirements, for the care of your newborn child.

Your employer may require you to use vacation and / or sick time accrual as part of your family leave. Vacation time, however, cannot be mandated for use during pregnancy disability.

Family leave permits employees, if eligible, to take 12 weeks of leave during any fixed "leave year" of 12 months. This could be a fiscal year, a year required by state law or a year starting on an employee's anniversary date. Pregnancy disability availability, however, is for four months for each pregnancy situation (generally determined by the employer's policies).

Family leave laws, by the way, may apply not only to the birth of a baby, but also for the placement of a child with the employee for foster care or adoption, care of a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition, or even your own health if you have a serious medical condition that makes you unable to do your job.

--Elizabeth Winfree Lydon, Orange County regional manager and senior staff consultant, the Employers Group

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