“What do you think I should select?” a friend in the process of applying for an international job opportunity asked. “The instructions say to choose the answer you think is the best fit.”

“Okay, what’s the question?”

“‘My greatest interest in becoming a volunteer is to,’ and these are the choices: ‘discover new cultures, learn from others, gain work experience in the field, give and help others, share my skills, support world peace and development’, or ‘enhance my personal development.’”

“That’s idiotic. It’s all of them. How can they expect you to just choose one? And then they’re going to weed you out based on your answer? Don’t they want to hire a balanced individual that is signing up to go to a third world country for more than one reason? This is like that test you took where they asked you if you liked Alice in Wonderland – to see if you could tolerate ambiguity. What if you can tolerate ambiguity, but you don’t like Alice in Wonderland?”

But I get it – choose the best answer. So we proceeded to break it down.

We decided the answer fell into one of four categories: 1) I want to grow as person by saving the world; 2) I am a gift to the world and thus must save it; 3) I want to position myself to climb up the food chain, saving the world may help with that; or 4) I am idealistic, I just want to save the world.

We went with idealistic – saving the world sounds like a good thing to do, doesn’t it? We simplified and insulted the psyche, stripping away the parts imperative to create the whole. We chose the answer employers know is not true but want to hear, and which fails to make a good employee, “I will be devoted and I will only question when prompted to do so – my greatest interest is to support organizational peace and development.