I’ve been getting a lot of depressing mail lately from teachers, professors and employers. Here’s one from someone who hires emergency dispatchers. Because of the stress and the bad hours, there’s a lot of turnover. Replacing dispatchers is difficult.
I begin by arranging a group orientation and testing for applicants, in order to verify the applicants’ concept of the job, and to weed out those who cannot read and comprehend, spell, write or organize thoughts, and carry through basic multi-tasking exercises. The spelling test is 50 words and was devised at random from a combination of a Civil Service Exam and a beginning “How to Become a Dispatcher” book found at a local bookstore. An 80% on all tests is required to pass on to the next phase of testing. During the last round of applicant testing, all of the 52 applicants had the required high school diploma or equivalent, and some had current desk-type jobs for which the above skills are necessary (or so I thought). Six out of 52 people passed the spelling test. And the results of the other tests were not much better. So, I had six people to move into the next round of testing, which is geared more toward the specific required skills and abilities of a communications officer. In the end, four people were qualified to interview.
She’s looking at the tests to see if they’re too hard, but worries about “mediocre service from a dispatcher who might be attempting to help save a baby’s life over the phone.”