You can rate restaurants on Yelp. You can rate men on OkCupid. And now, you can rate your coworkers on Knozen. That’s right, in what seems like a combo of LinkedIn and LuLu, a new iPhone app allows users to rank coworkers on a range of personal and professional traits.
How does it work? Basically, Knozen flashes the faces of two coworkers and asks the user to identify which person best fits the given description. After the question is answered, you’ll be told how many other users answered the question the same way, and then a new question and two different faces will pop up. To protect peoples’ identities, seven people from a company must be signed up before they can begin rating each other. Foolproof.
Questions cover a range of traits from spontaneity, to friendliness, to how sympathetic you are. Examples include: “Who is more likely to leave work early for a date?” “ and “Who is more likely to buy cookies from a girl scout?” Fortunately, the app departs from the Tinder approach by avoiding questions about appearance.
In straying from the professional criteria that one lists on a resumé, the app attempts to offer a more complete picture of a person. Knozen’s founder, former TheLadders CEO Mark Cenedella, envisions it becoming a kind of “personality API” that will allow future employers to assess how well someone would fit into their company’s culture. He described the content as “positive and upbeat.”
That’s an admirable aim but the format isn’t exactly foolproof. The closed questions stop coworkers from composing ranting essays about people they dislike. However, the questions don’t necessarily indicate a particular personality trait and could be interpreted differently by different users. For instance, what does buying girl scout cookies actually suggest about one’s personality? Perhaps a girl scout supporter is charitable...or perhaps they just have a raging sweet tooth. Take another example: “Who would pack for a trip way in advance?” One coworker might interpret this action as being organized and careful, while another might think this is an anal, obsessive thing to do. The hypothetical questions could use a bit of a revamp.
It also just sounds a little bit high school to me. It makes me think of a watered-down version of the “burn book” from Mean Girls , where the respondents are allowed to remain anonymous while potentially less-than-flattering data is made painfully public. I can envisage this creating some strange workplace dynamics and am curious as to how workplaces will respond — will they find this data useful, relevant, or ridiculous?