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In the beginning of Men in Black, when Will Smith is in the room with the other candidates for the job, they're all sitting those egg-style chairs with a table in the middle. This is where they're required to take the test.

Rip Torn leaves the room so they can all take the test and the next 3 minutes or so show all of them struggling to take the test in those stupid chairs. Until Will Smith finally gets up and drags the table over to himself, disrupting everyone else in the room.

Was this a test for them all along to see who would take initiative and get the table? To see who had the most common sense and could handle themselves best in stupid situations maybe?

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For the reference, the test scene:

Kay and Zed are observing the participants take the test, and discussing them. The whole thing is absurd:

  • the chairs are good only to crouch inside, but not to do any work (like taking a simple test) in them;
  • the test are sealed in a way that makes them hard to open (the paper rips easily, the pencil breaks when Jay tries to use it to pry the seal open,...). The table seems to be the only solution, but it's not offered as such.

So, I believe this is a test of how well they manage themselves in absurd situations (which they get plenty of in the field, as we see later on in all three movies), and are they capable of thinking outside of the box.

Then there is a test at the shooting range. Obviously, "the best of the best" know how to shoot, so their ability to just aim and shoot is not much of an issue. However, when the shooting is done, Zed comes in and asks Edwards "May I ask why you felt little Tiffany deserved to die?" (at 3:42 in the linked clip). This is Jay's answer:

Well, first I was gonna pop this guy hanging from the street light, and I realized, y'know, he's just working out. I mean, how would I feel if somebody come runnin' in the gym and bust me in my ass while I'm on the treadmill? Then I saw this snarling beast guy, and I noticed he had a tissue in his hand, and I'm realizing, y'know, he's not snarling, he's sneezing. Y'know, ain't no real threat there. Then I saw little Tiffany. I'm thinking, y'know, eight-year-old white girl, middle of the ghetto, bunch of monsters, this time of night with quantum physics books? She about to start some shit, Zed. She's about eight years old, those books are WAY too advanced for her. If you ask me, I'd say she's up to something.

Source: IMDb

To this, Zed smiles contentedly. So, the point in all of the tests (except for the "eye exam" ;-)) is to see how well do the participants handle themselves, and are they capable of thinking critically and out of the box.

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    That's also what I would have thought, but to me Zed always came across as not really preferring Jay and needing to be talked into this by Kay, which didn't fit that well to Jay's supposedly good results in the tests. But maybe that's just due to his overall hard-shell character and Jay's rather light-hearted upto disrespectful behaviour on the other hand. – Napoleon Wilson Sep 23 '14 at 13:13
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    @NapoleonWilson I couldn't find the clip where Zed and Kay are discussing this, and my DVD is far away from me, but if I recall correctly, Zed's problem with Jay is his lack of respect for authority. If you watch the clip I've linked in my answer, Jay finishes his explanation with "And to be honest, I'd appreciate it if you eased up off my back about it.", which visibly annoys Zed. I think that the only reason he does accept Jay is that Jay did so well in the tests (which makes Kay's choice to accept him very reasonable, no matter how unhappy Zed is with it). – Vedran Šego Sep 23 '14 at 13:26
  • @NapoleonWilson I don't think that theory has anything to do with the test scene or what its main purpose was – pt18cher Sep 23 '14 at 13:33
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    This review books.google.com/… completely agrees with you re the absurd. – CGCampbell Sep 23 '14 at 14:48
  • @pt18cher Well, it has, since that would undermine the idea of the test's real purpose presented here and in the question. But it was just a little side note anyway. – Napoleon Wilson Sep 23 '14 at 15:11

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