Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Value of interviews for hiring questionable"/ "Get more sleep, make more cash"

Nov. 5, 2016 "Value of interviews for hiring questionable, study reveals": Today I found this article by Howard Levitt in the Edmonton Journal.  It was very good about psychology and bias.

I have mentioned this before that I am aware of my sexism bias in the "Kim Kardashian robbery" news.  When Joe Francis was robbed, I didn't really feel sorry for him because he was a big grown man.

Here's the article:

Employers, like most people, tend to trust their intuitions. But when employers decide whom to hire, they trust those intuitions far more than they should.

Suppose that you are considering two candidates for a job in sales, Candidate A and Candidate B, and have interviewed both. You and your colleagues were far more impressed with Candidate A, who was dynamic, engaging, and immensely likable — a natural, especially for sales. By contrast, Candidate B was a bit awkward and reserved, and so seemed to be an inferior “fit.”

One of your colleagues points out that both candidates have taken an aptitude test that relates to the job; their personnel files also contain their scores on a general intelligence test. On both tests, Candidate A was just OK; Candidate B performed superbly.

Which applicant will you choose? If you are like a lot of people, the answer is still Candidate A. After all, you met both in person, and part of your job is to be able to assess people. Maybe Candidate B tests well, but Candidate A knocked your socks off.

A lot of evidence suggests that in cases of this kind, employers will stubbornly trust their intuitions — and are badly mistaken to do so. Specific aptitude tests turn out to be highly predictive of performance in sales, and general intelligence tests are almost as good. Interviews are far less useful at telling you who will succeed.

What’s true for sales positions is also true more generally. Unstructured interviews have been found to have surprisingly little value in a variety of areas.

For medical school interviews, for example, they appear to have no predictive power at all: in terms of academic or clinical performance, those accepted on the basis of interviews do no better than those who are rejected.

In law schools, my own experience is that faculties emphasize how aspiring law professors do in one-on-one interviews — which usually provide no information at all about how they will do as teachers or researchers.

In the abstract, most people in human resources are fully aware that objective measures are helpful. Yet the overwhelming majority of people in these positions believe that executives “can learn more from an informal discussion with job candidates” and that it is possible to “read between the lines” to see whether a candidate would do well in the job. In general, that’s wrong.

In fact, some evidence suggests that interviews are far worse than wasteful: By drawing employers’ attention to irrelevant information, they can produce inferior decisions.

For example, people make better predictions about student performance if they are given access to objective background information, such as grades and test scores — and prevented from conducting interviews entirely. (In some fields, of course, specific aptitude tests don’t exist, but general intelligence scores are often available. And if candidates have a previous track record, it makes sense to rely on it.)

So why do employers, managers and administrators continue to give so much weight to interviews? The simple answer is that people trust what they see and hear, and rely on their own feelings even when they shouldn’t.

But as Yale University management professor Jason Dana and his collaborators have shown, there’s more to it than that. Interviewers actively fool themselves, finding ways to learn from interviews even if there’s actually nothing there to learn from.

Dana’s central finding is that interviewers work very hard to make sense of whatever interviewees end up saying. If you are conducting an interview, you will quickly form an initial impression of the candidate, and you will be inclined to assess his or her answers — whatever they are — in a way that fits with that initial impression.

To confirm that point, Dana instructed interviewees to give literally random answers to questions — answers that had nothing at all to do with their natural response. Even then, interviewers said in post-interview surveys that they received valuable information.

In other words, interviewers, thinking that they are good judges of people, ended up confident about the usefulness of the interviews even when the responses were deliberately worthless.

There’s a related problem with interviews: They can give effect to biases, conscious or unconscious. If interviewers are prejudiced against women or Hispanics, for example, a face-to-face interview will predictably result in discrimination. Reliance on tests, or on actual or past performance, can promote equality.

For business, government, and education, the lesson is clear: People ought to be relying far more on objective information and far less on interviews.

Nov. 26, 2016 "Get more sleep, make more cash": Today I found this article by Ana Swanson in the Edmonton Journal:

I like the picture of the guy with eyes drawn on the post- it notes on his face:

We all know sleep matters for job performance. After a week of vacation, you may find your work better than ever.

But rack up a week of sleepless nights and you may find yourself struggling.

It wouldn't surprise anyone that sleep affects attention, memory and cognition - important factors in the workplace. But striking new research suggests the effect of additional sleep is so powerful that it could actually translate into thousands of dollars in wages.

A new paper - from Matthew Gibson of Williams College and Jeffrey Shrader of University of California-San Diego, based on data from Jawbone, the fitness and sleep tracker company - says that additional time sleeping can translate into thousands of dollars in wages.

In fact, they calculate that a one-hour increase in weekly sleep raises wages by about half as much as an additional year of education.

Now, the story is not so simple. Don't think you can start to sleep more and you will instantly make more money. It's more about the subtle interplay between how people schedule their lives, how much time they have available to sleep, and how that affects worker performance and, ultimately, earnings.

To investigate how sleep affects worker wages, the researchers took advantage of a kind of natural experiment - sunset times across American time zones. Past research shows that people naturally end up sleeping longer when the sun sets earlier, for example in the winter, even if the person goes to bed well after dark. When the sun sets an hour later, it reduces nighttime sleep by roughly 20 minutes per week.

Within a single time zone, the time of sunset varies substantially. For example, the sun sets about an hour and a half earlier in Mars Hill, Maine, than in Ontonagon, Michigan, even though both are in the Eastern time zone. Because there shouldn't be any significant differences in workers on the eastern or western edge of a time zone beyond the amount of time they sleep, researchers use this variation to calculate how much sleep influences wages.

They find that a one-hour increase in average weekly sleep in a location increases wages by 1.3 per cent in the short run, which include changes of less than a year, and 5 per cent in the long run. By moving to a location where a sunset is one hour earlier, a worker will make an additional US$1570 ($2215) a year.

Those differences in wages end up being incorporated into the local economy.

The researchers find that higher wages actually translate into higher home values as well. A county that experiences a sunset one hour earlier has on average a 6 per cent higher median home value, about US$7900 to US$8800 dollars, they say.

Not all of these wage differences are due directly to sleep, the researchers caution. Some could be due to the cumulative influence of other people.

If the workers around you are made slightly more productive by sleeping better, that could make your work more productive, too.

The findings suggest that sleep is a crucial determinant of productivity and wages, "rivalling ability and human capital in importance", the researchers write.

Given the huge benefit that more sleep can bring, we should certainly pay more attention to ensuring that workers sleep more, they say.

Dec. 13, 2016 Power Points: Why success can look a lot like failure at first: I found these job tips in the Globe and Mail on Mar. 9, 2015.  The G&M have since got rid of these:

Why success can look a lot like failure at first:

After you make positive workplace changes, things may get worse before they improve, following the so-called J-curve, with a dip before a rise, just like the letter.

The difficulty, consultant Roy H. Williams says, is that if you goofed, you’ll see the same dip, making it hard to tell the difference at that early stage. Monday Morning Memo

Loosen fixed ideas by asking questions

If your team is stuck, management professor Michael Roberto suggests asking: “What other options might we consider beyond the proposals on the table?” Also: “How might our principal marketplace rivals look at this issue? How might they approach it differently?” Or: “Are we trying to solve the wrong problem?” Professor Michael Roberto’s Blog

Keep good people with regular praise

Consultant Wally Bock warns people not to be like the manager who started listing an employee’s wonderful qualities – such as “you do great work” – only after she said she was leaving. Her response? “You never told me. ” Now it was too late. Three Star Leadership Blog

The rules of love don’t apply to sales

Absence may make the heart grow fonder in romantic relationships, but that doesn’t apply with your customers, consultant Drew McLellan says. And in marketing, love is not blind. How you present yourself has a vital impact on your ability to capture and keep customers.

Drew’s Marketing Minute

Free your task app for big projects

Productivity consultant Michael Vardy recommends feature-rich Due, an iOS and Mac app, to remind you of your mundane tasks in order to free up your regular task app for the big stuff. The Productivityist Newsletter

My week:

Oct. 16, 2017 Work: I have worked 12 days in a row straight at my 1st restaurant job.  I have worked 7 days a week before, but it's when I worked at 2 jobs.

Oct. 8 Thanksgiving Sunday: It was busy, but we managed.
Oct. 9 Thanksgiving Monday: It was very busy in the morning.  Then we were told to have 2 bussers stay for lunch.  It was quiet in the afternoon.

Oct. 10 Tues: It was quiet.  The new busser R didn't come to work last Sat. and she didn't come to work today either.  I worked morning and afternoon.
Oct. 11 Wed: It was the same and R didn't come to work.  I worked morning and afternoon.
Oct. 12 Thurs: I worked in the morning.
Oct. 13 Fri: I worked morning and afternoon.
Oct. 14 Sat: I worked in the morning because that's the only time we're open.
Oct. 15 Sun: We had a huge afternoon reservation. 
Oct. 16 Mon: It was quiet.  I worked morning and afternoon.

The highlight of the week:

I did go to a social event on Tues. night.

However, I watched the season premiere of Arrow.  It was good.

I watched the season premiere of Riverdale.  That was good too.  I watched the first season by watching it in a couple of weeks.

Sears Canada closing: This time all the stores in Canada are closing.  For years they have been closing some stores here and there, but now it's all of them. 

Celine Dion donates to shooting victims:

Celine Dion broke down on stage on Tuesday, October 3, during her first performance at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace following the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. The singer opened up the show with a message for the victims and the families who were hurt by the attack on Sunday, October 1.

“On Sunday we lost too many beautiful, innocent souls, and so many are still suffering," Dion said to the audience. "But tonight we're going to let these families know that we are supporting them and that we will help them through their tragic loss.”

Dion announced during her speech that along with show partners AEG Presents and Caesars Entertainment, she will be donating the proceeds from the show to aid the victims and their families.

"Homeless Connect helps more families on the brink of homelessness": Today I found this article by Claire Theobald in the Edmonton Journal:

Homeless Connect Edmonton began as a way to connect Edmonton’s homeless with immediate services and supplies, but organizers said Sunday more impoverished families on the brink of being homeless are reaching out for help.

“We are seeing more families come in with younger kids and itty-bitty ones, and they might be couch-surfing or living with a friends for a little while and then living with another friend,” said Jenn McDermott, co-chair of the Homeless Connect Edmonton steering committee at the 19th Homeless Connect at the Shaw Conference Centre on Sunday.

Dermott expected at least 1,800 people at the event, with more than 70 service providers offering everything from housing support, legal aid and tax assistance to free health care, haircuts and warm winter clothing.

Homeless Connect is a one-day event that happens once in the spring and once in the fall, Dermott said.

"Soldier pushes past 'ridiculous' stigma around mental health issues": Today I found this article by Janet French in the Edmonton Journal:

“It makes me kind of a little bit sad to realize how many of us struggle with this, and how many are keeping it to themselves,” Forbes said.

Since beginning her trek from Cork County in the south of Ireland four weeks ago with her 18-kilogram pack, she has walked about 25 km a day from one village to the next. Although she expected to live in a tent, generous villagers offer her beds and send her off with a packed lunch the next day.

As she blogs and posts about her journey on Instagram, supporters tell her they’re inspired.
“It makes me feel strong and just pretty great,” she said.

Oct. 17, 2017 Tom Goodchild's Moose Factory: This is a really good website for this restaurant:


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