What if Recruiters Take the Rorschach Inkblot Test?

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Seepage of unconscious desires, passions, insecurities and fears into recruiting interactions is not supposed to happen.

Job roles, rituals, rites and rules of decorum, predictability and reliability are expected to prevail, save for the token moments of casualness or playfulness these allow, require or eventually cause as essential venting.

However, recruiters, despite the suits, ties, smart jackets and perfect composure, are people—people with hidden or simply unrevealed desires, fears, loves and hates. So, wouldn’t it be fun if they all took a Rorschach Inkblot test to come clean and to unwind?

But first, some caveats. I am not convinced that the Rorschach test is all that interesting or useful. First, because of the bilateral symmetry, it biases the mind toward perception of objects, especially organisms and their symmetrical structures of precisely the sort we are hardwired to notice around us.

That’s because symmetry suggests order and order correlates with organic forms,  rather than situations, e.g., of the sort typically depicted in the T.A.T. [Thematic Apperception Test], which, for example, clearly depicts two people sitting at a desk next to a window and asks you for an interpretation.

[Note: The above links are to free online tests for the Rorschach and T.A.T.]

To the extent that many of these images may resemble symmetrical creatures in a  very limiting straitjacket, they serve as visual metaphors for what they are likely to do to the mind.

I believe it is obvious this is why and that it is utterly predictably that the image shown above has elicited “bat, butterfly or moth” from 53% of those who took the test in a large sample and study.

Take the Rorschach Challenge!

Throwing scientific caution to the winds and [not] resisting the instinct to see creatures, take the challenge—and take it seriously. What do you see and what do you think recruiters, on average, are likely to see?

Since anticipating creature-focused responses in prior studies was really easy for me and probably for you, perhaps predicting a recruiter’s response will also be child’s play, so to speak.

Before getting to that, go ahead: Interpret the image above, the official first image in the 10-image sequence that constitutes the standard Rorschach test. If you see creatures, so be it. Now, quickly.

OK. Now, my turn. Guessing what recruiters are likely to see in this, and allowing for hard-wired symmetrical creature interpretations, I’d guess recruiters will guess the following, taking care or at least trying not to project my own interpretations onto recruiters:

  • A rabid cat demanding a job—of course
  • A frog-headed recruiter, hands raised, mediating between deadlocked employer and candidate that just happen to look like flying polar bears
  • A polar bear ice sculpture gift from a grateful client, not to be placed on one’s desk, unless it’s a big client
  • The Starbucks whipped latte you didn’t have time to finish at lunch
  • Alternative transportation to and from the office to avoid rush-hour traffic
  • A rotated office map of North America and transformed economic regions and high/low-employment zones, after annexation of Canada and global warming-induced melting and flooding
  • Job opportunities for snow shovelers at the Statue of Liberty, buried in ice, during the surprise ice age that will immediately follow the last month of global warming
  • A conflicted recruiter forced to say one thing to the client, but another to the candidate
  • The remains of the office Halloween pumpkin
  • The homepage of the Obamacare registration website that can’t be accessed to replace lost company coverage.

On a far more serious note, at a more abstract, insightful level, and despite the deceptive humor in my list, notice the themes embedded in my predictions:

  • Conflict
  • Adaptation to sudden crises
  • Accommodation and compromise
  • Pressure
  • Frustration

One additional prediction I’m pretty confident about is this: If you saw absolutely nothing in the image, you are probably

  • Working too hard and exhausted
  • Professionally or unconsciously super-resistant to allowing unconscious “seepage”
  • Really busy
  • Skipped my instructions
  • Need a different test—optometric

So, how did I do? Did I pass–or, instead, end up with a blot on my analytical record?

Read more in Recruiter Motivation

Michael Moffa, writer for Recruiter.com, is a former editor and writer with China Daily News, Hong Kong edition and Editor-in-chief, Business Insight Japan Magazine, Tokyo; he has also been a columnist with one of Japan’s national newspapers, The Daily Yomiuri, and a university lecturer (critical thinking and philosophy).