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US embassy staff test totally 'fake'

By Yan Shuang (Global Times)

09:14, February 21, 2012

US embassy spokesman Richard Buangan made clear on his Sina microblog yesterday that an alleged "recruitment test for expatriate employees at the US embassy" is fake.

A picture showing a written exam, which includes nine questions concerning subjects like history, sociology, political science, and even medicine and engineering, has been circulating on microblogs and online forums since Saturday.

"You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze and a bottle of Scotch. Remove your appendix," reads the test question on medicine.

The exam also includes a question on music, which requires the participants to write a piano concerto and play it with the piano under the desk, and a politics question asks the participants to start World War III and prove they took the side of justice.

According to the instructions, participants need to finish all the nine questions within four hours. The picture on Sina Weibo received more than 22,000 reposts by yesterday. Some called it "a test for spies" and many Web users doubted whether it could be real, since it is too difficult.

"This is fake," Richard Buangan, the US embassy spokesperson commented on his Sina microblog Sunday without further explanation. Neither he nor the embassy's media office replied to a Global Times' interview request via e-mail yesterday, and the office could not be reached by phone.

The original picture of the test comes from the latest issue of news magazine Vistastory, published on Saturday. The magazine put the translated version of the test as an addition to a story that offers an in-depth interview on the workings of the US embassy to China. The interviewee was a former embassy staffer, Dan Picutta.

Chen Jingsong, Vistastory's main writer, told the Global Times yesterday that their information is from a book named Inside a U.S. Embassy: Diplomacy at Work, published by Potomac Books Inc on April 30, 2011.

"In chapter five they introduced this test and we took some questions, translated them and made our list," Chen said. The book is written by Shawn Dorman, associate editor of the Foreign Service Journal.

"It's written for young people who want to find a job at the US embassy. The questions are collected from people who had worked or applied for jobs at the US embassies, but not officially verified," Chen said.

Chen explained the term "expatriate employees" is their own translation to make it easier to understand for Chinese people, and the original English just says it's for any job applicant.

The article mentions working conditions for US and locally-hired Chinese workers at the US embassy in Beijing, or in one of the US consular offices in China. There is no suggestion that the translated test has anything to do with the interview process for hiring local staff.

A June 2008 issue of Foreign Service Journal carried a story, which includes an English version of the same exam, also written by Dorman. However, according to the magazine, the questions are from the US State Department's entrance exam, in a bid to "measure the stability of perspective Foreign Service officers and to weed out the dummies."

"The following is excerpted from a 'test' that has circulated for years. The author is unknown," reads the story. The English test includes 12 questions, among which eight are the same as the content in the Vistastory report. The English one also tests candidates on biology, philosophy, economics and epistemology.


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