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4 Ways to Prevent Cheating on Employee Assessments

June 30, 2015

cheating-fakingA popular question that consultants at Select International are often asked by our clients is how we can prevent cheating or faking on assessments. So, before I provide some insight on the question, here’s a quiz to test your opinions on the issue.

What is the best way to prevent cheating and faking on assessments?

a. Provide candidates with different versions of an assessment.

b. Proctor the assessment.

c. Provide fake questions and catch candidates in a lie.

d. Tell candidates that if they do not answer questions truthfully, they will be disqualified from the hiring process.

e. All of the above

If you chose e, you are correct. There are a variety of ways that your organization can prevent cheating on assessments, and some are easier to implement than others. The good news is, although cheating and faking cannot be 100% eliminated from the application process, your organization can significantly cut down on those dishonest practices by taking some precautionary measures that I will outline below.

If your company has taken the time and expense to assemble an excellent culture and rigorous selection process that includes pre-employment assessments, you are likely concerned about ways candidates may try to circumvent the process. Just like a manufacturing company is likely concerned about sending bad products to market, since a recall can cost the organization money, time, and reputation, people are also valuable assets, so avoiding hiring “damaged goods” should also be a priority. Especially if your company is an employer of choice in the community, candidates might do anything they can to get their foot in the door, including lying on an application. So, how do you prevent fakers or cheaters from “gaming the system”?

  1. Catch candidates in a lie. Select designs our assessment content to include fake items. For example, if a candidate says they have experience using a “door de-hinger,” we know that they are lying, because that piece of equipment is made-up. If the candidate is lying on fake items, it’s possible that he did not answer other items truthfully, and the assessment is designed to screen out those individuals.

  1. Use a multi-step hiring process. Even if candidates manage to pass through a screening assessment, having a multi-hurdle selection process in place can prevent them from being hired into your organization. A structured interview can uncover some items that the assessment missed, if you use the opportunity to confirm some of the candidate’s responses from their application or assessment. For example, in Select’s Fit assessments, candidates answer questions to determine their preference regarding performing certain types of jobs. In an assessment, if the candidate indicates that she prefers the type of job in which she has the opportunity to learn a variety of skills and perform different tasks, because she thinks that is what the job requires, you can ask an interview question to confirm that task variety is actually important to her.

  1. Proctor assessments and provide warnings. It’s possible to think about preventing cheating on assessments the same way stores try to thwart shoplifting. Some businesses use cameras and signs to indicate that shoppers are being watched to ensure they don’t shoplift, and if they do they will be prosecuted. If your company proctors assessments and checks each candidate’s photo ID beforehand, the chance that a candidate’s friend or family member will complete their assessment will drastically decrease. Another option is to provide a written warning in applications and assessments, informing candidates that if they do not answer questions truthfully, they will be disqualified from the hiring process. It is helpful to remember that for personality assessments that do not measure cognitive ability, fakers or cheaters won’t be at an advantage because there are no “correct” answers. Still, it is ideal for hiring managers to have accurate assessment data from the real applicant, rather than from his or her mother or brother.

  1. Alternate forms. Proctoring assessments can be expensive and time-intensive. So another way to thwart cheaters who may try to share test data with others, is to create alternate forms of your assessments. This means that no two assessments will look alike. Whether it means providing different math problems for each candidate, or switching the order of assessment content sections, by providing candidates with online assessments like the alternate forms versions that Select International has developed, cheating becomes significantly less achievable.

One of these ways will help reduce cheating and faking. Two of them will bring that possibility down even lower. If your employee assessment process follows all four checks and balances, chances are very low that your candidates will cheat during the process. Be sure to take a careful look at your organization's current process to ensure that some of these checks are included in your employee assessments.

Are All Employee Assessments Alike?  

Vicki Marlan Vicki Marlan is a Consulting Associate based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. Vicki provides client support across many different industries including manufacturing, technology and healthcare. Her areas of expertise include developing selection tools and interview guides, providing training and support for PSI’s applicant tracking system, as well as assisting clients with requests and questions regarding tools and processes.