Testing For Integrity

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Author John Towler, Ph.D.

Are your job candidates honest? How do you know and how can you find out?

If you want to find honest, ethical employees who will fit into your organization, get along with people and who are easy to manage, use tests. There are a number of tests that are designed specifically for these purposes.

The PSI series of tests measures elements that have a proven relationship to on-the-job performance. Individual tests measure different aspects, but the complete series measures such things as:

• honesty
• use of drugs
• commitment to the job
• customer relations
• whether the person engages in dangerous, thrill seeking behaviour
• safety consciousness
• work values and work habits
• responsibility
• productivity
• whether they are easily supervised
• emotional stability

These particular tests also generate an “employability index” which is a guide to whether the applicant should or should not be hired. This index can be set for a cut off point that pertains to specific industries. For example an applicant for a maintenance position might have a lower cut off than an applicant for a high tech programmer.

For those who want even more information on honesty and ethics, there are tests that have been designed to determine whether applicants are simply giving what they think are socially desirable answers and distorting their responses to make themselves look good. In addition, there are tests that have a moral reasoning component that enables you to differentiate between those who have internalized honesty and those who have not.

Integrity tests focus on the assessment of an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses and tell you how strong or weak they are in these areas. They are different from the traditional personality questionnaires which tend to be non-evaluative, avoiding judgements as to what are “good” and “bad” personal characteristics. These kinds of tests simply tell you what a person is like (enthusiastic, aggressive etc.) but they do not make any comments about whether these things are good or bad. However it is very important to know this when you are trying to match a person to a particular job. Most tests are inexpensive and cost less than $50. They can be administered in a few minutes, and you get the results right away. When you think of the problems and the costs that can result from not testing, it is simply common sense to use them to get the best employees, avoid hiring another firm’s rejects and to protect your own firm.

Today’s tests and assessments tools are excellent. The good ones have been validated. This means that exhaustive studies have been conducted that prove that they do what they are supposed to do. For example, it can be shown that a validated test of honesty accurately identifies the people who are dishonest. This is very important if you are ever faced with a lawsuit about decisions you made based on a test.

John Towler is a Psychologist and the founder of Creative Organizational Design. Please send comments about this article to jtowler@creativeorgdesign.com. For more information, please contact us.

Re-printable with permission.