HOUSTON _ Personality tests for job applicants have become
quite common. But handwriting analysis?
David Messina was surprised when Olsten Staffing Services
asked him to submit a one-page handwriting sample when he
interviewed for a recruiting job.
"They might as well have asked me what my astrological sign
is," he said.
Before his job interview, Messina said, he never gave much
thought to his handwriting.
"I have horrible handwriting," Messina said. "I figured I'd be
classified as a serial killer."
Messina never heard back from Olsten about the job but heard
through the grapevine that his handwriting analysis showed he'd
be better suited to bricklaying than personnel recruiting.
More and more companies are using handwriting analysis as a
tool to select employees. They see it as a quick and accurate
method to evaluate job candidates.
But academics who have studied handwriting as an employee
selection tool say there's no relationship between someone's
handwriting and how they'll do on the job. The reports list
traits that describe just about anyone, they said, likening
handwriting study to astrological charts.
Olsten has used handwriting analysis for several years, mostly
for managerial jobs, said Martin Gelerman, senior vice president
of Olsten Corp. in Westbury, N.Y.
"We've found it to be very accurate," Gelerman said. "If we
give someone handwriting analysis and put the results in a drawer
and work with the person for three or four years and pull it out
_ my God, it's right."
Managerial job applicants write on a blank page of paper and
Olsten sends it to an analysis firm that specializes in personnel
selection. Olsten receives a 22-page report evaluating the
potential employee, which takes into account the skills needed to
do the job.
The report comes back with a rundown of the applicant's
traits, such as enthusiasm, ability to be a self-starter,
organizational skills, open-mindedness, communication skills,
confidence, empathy, conflict avoidance and fear of failure.
"We don't usually not hire because of the handwriting
analysis," Gelerman said. It's not used as an eliminative factor
but as an aid.
Olsten recently completed a study to determine whether its
analysis was working. After evaluating the handwriting of branch
managers who were hired in 1992, the company found traits that
were common indicators of success and failure.
"It gives you a very quick assessment," said Alice Weiser, a
certified graphoanalyst in Houston. …