Target Personnel Manager

Marsharon Ellis has the attention of Vallejo High School students, including Danielle Edwards, a 16-year old sophomore, as he talks about what he looks for in a job applicant.

(In the Times-Herald of Vallejo CA May 4, 1999)

Testing skills that pay bills

Vallejo High students get 'Social Quotient' scored

By MATTHIAS GAFNI Times-Herald staff writer

A first impression goes a long way. It's make or break in the job market. That's the message more than 900 Vallejo High School students have received after taking the Social Quotient test, which puts a numeric value on social skills. Monday, about 30 VHS sophomores learned about and took the test, while discovering some tricks to interviewing effectively from Target personnel manager Marsharon Ellis.

Test developer Van Sloan said the SQ is the only one of its kind. It allows peers, who are familiar with each other to rate each other's social adroitness, which Sloan says is more accurate than a complete stranger's perception. "Interviews are a poor way to predict the future of employees," Sloan said. "People can fake it. The Social Quotient can get 30 of the applicant's peers who know the person better to make that assessment." "Schools are concentrating on the grade point average, but a lot of those businesses are more likely to hire people with social skills," Sloan added.

Ellis said that the SQ score is not the be all, end all in hiring, but could weigh in a decision. "When I take a look at it, this is only one out of five tools I get to look at," Ellis said to the class. "It won't be like, 'I would hire you because of (your SQ test score)'" But if he noticed an exceptionally low SQ score from an applicant, Ellis said he might inquire further. "If someone brought in a low score, I'd probably ask a question that has to do with social interaction," Ellis said.

Some of the students said they learned to be conscious of their social skills because it is a factor in the hiring process. "The Social Quotient let me know that attitude does count. You can't be snobby and get a job," Danielle Edwards said. "It was hard to (take the test), because some of them are my friends, but their attitudes are just bad. Her sister said she hoped she scored well. "It's good because I'll be able to show the employer that I'm a happy person," Chanel Edwards said. And if she scores low? "I'll just take the test over," Chanel said.

Sloan said the best parts of the SQ test are the constructive criticism you receive and the fact that improvement is possible and easy. "I know what I need to work on," Amber Nate Styles said. "My attitude toward certain people. I hope my score is high, but if not, I know what I need to work on."

Ellis focused on the first impression he receives when conducting a job interview. "When you come through the door, look professional," Ellis said. "Don't sag. I don't want to see people's underwear. No shorts. Come into the room the best you can. Come in upright, don't slouch or limp." Eye contact and a strong handshake also are key components of displaying confidence, Ellis said, which is what he looks for. And you can see confidence immediately, he said. "The students know exactly what I'm talking about with the first impression. It's just a behavior cycle that people have," Ellis said.

(note: bold text above appears as normal in original)

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