Are We Being Misled by the Results of Psychometric Tests for the Job Screening Process?
There can be no doubt about the fact that by far the overwhelming majority of employers would NOT offer a job to a job applicant who scored badly in the personality stakes. This can be especially true of undesirable qualities such as:
- Inability to handle stress in the modern workplace
- Poor motivation, attitude and a generally negative influence
- Introverted to the point of being gauche
- Inability to lead at any level
- Low Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence
- Alcohol or Drug Addiction
Honest and Integrity
When answering questions in this category, you can be sure that there is no room for half-baked answers. You had better be sure that your responses are unequivocal, so you must be absolutely clear about your positive responses to these types of questions:
“Most people can be trusted”
“The number of people who don't steal at work are in the majority”
“If you are overpaid on your salary advice you must report it”
“Shoplifters should not be given a second chance”
“People who get someone else to clock in for them are being dishonest”
“Long business lunches amount to stealing company time”
The escalating use of Psychometric Tests for the determination of a job applicant's integrity must raise the question: “Has the level of honesty deteriorated when compared to just 10 years ago?” Regrettably, the available facts come back with an emphatic YES!
So what has changed in society? Whereas, in the past, people would spend their entire working life with one company, today changing jobs has become commonplace. The result is that there appears to be a diminished sense of company loyalty. In turn, a lack of loyalty can be a breeding ground for dishonesty. The inevitable knee-jerk reaction by companies is to lean toward discretion, and they therefore reject any job applicants not meeting the criteria posed in their test questions.
It is interesting to note that there is now a new breed of job applicants who have “wised up” to the existing test format, and many of them have double bluffed the “experts”. White-collar crimes come in many different forms, including money laundering; credit card, health care, insurance, securities, and/or telecommunications fraud; intellectual property and computer crimes; and identity theft. The growth of the information age and the globalization of Internet communication and commerce have impacted significantly upon the manner in which economic crimes are committed, their frequency, and the difficulty in apprehending the perpetrators.
According to the National Fraud Center statistics, economic crime cost the nation $5,000,000,000 in 1970, and is now estimated to be heading for $1,000,000,000,000 this year. As businesses and financial transactions become more and more computer and Internet dependent, the reality of increased economic crime grows exponentially, fuelled by the rapid growth of technology.
Here we have a dichotomy: if you are honest, and declare an anger management problem, you are almost 100% certain of NOT getting the job you applied for! Apart from the obvious reasons for asking a question related to anger – the underlying motive can actually be more sinister.
At a basic level the company would need to know if the applicant is prone to damaging company assets (such as a company motor vehicle). Then this may escalate, for a variety of underhand, patently dishonest reason, to more sophisticated targets such as computer hacking.
This then makes it important to strongly agree with such questions as: “I rarely lose my temper, especially at work” or “losing my temper has never contributed to me losing my job”.
In the modern, high-paced workplace, the successful handling of stress comes with the territory. That is why it is imperative that any job applicant should not have been subject to stress-related health issues. So, this type of question must be answered in the affirmative by ticking the “strongly agree” box:
- Criticism of my work does not faze me unduly
- Because conflict leads to hostility, I avoid upsetting people
- My work performance does not suffer in a stressful situation
- I have not had to take medication to cope with stress.
What are the employment screening gurus looking for? Are their tactics aimed exclusively at occluding applicants with idiosyncratic personalities? The answer is an emphatic NO! Although Psychometric tests are directed at ruling out latent dishonesty and instability, they are primarily aimed at some very specific personality attributes, and these include:
- Leadership ability (or lack of)
- Inherent motivation
- Extrovert (or not)
So is there:
An inherent flaw in Psychometric Tests?
A major concern expressed from a variety of quarters is that Psychometric tests are carefully structured to pinpoint ANY attempt at tainting the end-results. Where the tests are most prone to abuse is in an area called “impression control”. Tests designers are still struggling to concoct impression control tests which are not patently self-evident.
For those who have encountered this type of “impression” question, they will easily relate to the simplicity of the genre, and the answers which are totally transparent:
- I am always happy (you obviously would not say the opposite would you?)
- I make a point of being on time for work
- I have never felt tired at work
- I have never felt bored
Although there are a plethora of tests in the personality arena, there are perhaps many more directed at areas such as: Verbal reasoning, comprehension and spelling.
Numerical Ability Tests
The so-called right-brained folk claim that this is one area of answering tests where their brains are prone to implosion. However, with a bit of coaching, it will be seen that many of these questions are actually very simple, as they tend to follow a pattern, e.g.:
1. Find the missing number in the series:
64 58 __ 46 40 choose from: a) 57 b) 52 c) 70 d) 47
2. Find the next number in the series:
5 10 15 25 ____ choose from: a) 30 b) 15 c) 40 d) 45
3. Find the 1st number in the series:
____ 23 29 31 41 choose from: a) 43 b) 19 c) 17 d) 22
Finally, it is significant that in the highly competitive field of Psychometric Testing, some questionable companies seem to have broken into the potentially lucrative market. The alarming part about this development is that a substantial number of integrity testing entrants into the field do not appear to have, or require any training or recognised qualifications for the individuals concerned who administer the tests.
The only conclusion that can be drawn from some of the results of these tests is that they may be alarmingly prejudicial to an individual's career path – primarily because some 95% of people who fail integrity tests are then classified as being dishonest!
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