What to Do When A Job Applicant Lies on a Pre Employment Test

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What to Do When A Job Applicant Lies on a Pre Employment Test

How do you handle the candidate who lies on his pre employment test?

How do you treat an applicant who does not complete the application properly, perhaps leaving out some information because they didn’t feel like filling it out?  Would you ask him to try again, or would you disqualify him from the hiring process?

What do you do if an applicant doesn’t show up for an interview?  Do you call to set up new interview or would you disqualify him from going further in the hiring process?

We’ve had a number of questions recently regarding validity of candidate pre employment test reports. More specifically many employers wonder about the accuracy since any applicant can certainly lie and try to fake out a pre-employment test just like they do on the application and resume.

That’s why any assessment Success Performance Solutions uses for hiring has a built-in system, a lie detector, to identify which reports are “right on” and the ones that a candidate might have “enhanced.”

PeopleClues for example provides two internal validity checks.  ASSESS and Prevue offer similar alarms too.

The first check looks for high levels of Good Impression or Social Desirability.  Was the candidate frank and straight forward with their responses?  Are these results valid?  Did they give me what they thought I wanted?  If the good impression scores are high we simply cannot be sure the rest of the results are accurate.  Whether high scores are due to the individual’s deliberately attempting to “fudge” the results OR due to an individual that simply wants to get along with everybody, the bottom line is that we will potentially see similar behavior on the job.  This is an example of what we mean when we say that sometimes the manner in which the applicant completes the assessment can be just as informative as the actual scores.

The second internal validity check is to determine if the person is simply randomly responding to the questions without actually attempting to answer them.  There is an internal validation algorithm that checks for this. If it is triggered, PeopleClues will then generate this statement that you see on the top of the report page:

ALERT: This participant has answered the personality questions in a manner that appears to be random or inconsistent. Therefore a report cannot be generated because of the invalid responses.

(Note: ASSESS will actually generate the report but display a similar warning.  Prevue also generates a report with a warning.)

There are some participants who choose to not respond to all the questions or they believe that they can just randomly answer them just to get it over with.  In either case a valid report cannot be generated.

Possibly more important, this is an indication that the candidate does not take your application process seriously.  (And, by the way, it is our experience that if they scored this way once, they are likely to score similarly a second time.)

We recommend that you treat high good impression scores (also called positive factors and social desirability) in the employee selection process as you would any other component of your process.  Just like submitting an incomplete application, discovering lies in employment history or education, or missing an interview, intentionally faking out a pre-employment test raises a red flag.

In evaluating candidates, you should consider the assessment that states “invalid due to random responses” as you would other documents that do not provide valid or legitimate information. If you choose to have the individual take the assessment again, be sure to use the same language and/or directions that you would if they had to re-do any other step in your screening process.  For example, “The assessment results came back incomplete, so you need to retake it” is probably similar to “You didn’t complete the entire application so you need to re-do it.”

You could also choose to automatically eliminate any applicant that has a high Good Impression score.  But like any other aspect of employee screening, you could risk weeding out some hard-working employees. In our nearly two decades of testing applicants, some candidates who happen to be overly agreeable or a bit wishy-washy when it comes to making decisions often score high on good impression too.  That’s because they might be people pleasers and sometimes respond one way and other times another.

As with other parts of the employee selection process, you should look at good impression scores within the context of the whole report and not give more weight to it as a single score.  The question you might ask is, “If this is right – the person either deliberately or unconsciously tried to present a good impression – how will that affect performance on my team?”

Hopefully this helps clear some things up!  But if not, we are always available to answer questions about pre employment testing.

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