There has been an interesting discussion lately on a Psychometrics Linked In Group. The discussion was begun by Prue Laurence, Director at Psylutions, a workplace psychology consultancy in Melbourne where they are currently conducting a survey about cheating in workplace psychometric tests and people’s attitudes to psych testing.
Cheating on psych tests is a subject that comes up a lot, and I have fairly recently written about it myself.
In general, I would say that there’s very little point in even attempting to cheat, not because I make a moral judgement, but because potential employees just don’t know what an employer might be looking for. There’s a common perception that every employer is looking for extravert personalities, and put simply, that’s just wrong. There’s also a perception that extraverts are somehow “better” than introverts and that’s just silly. (For an explanation, please read my previous post, link above).
But Prue’s call for subjects to do her survey has engendered a discussion that has begun to develop the idea of cheating in a much deeper way, and to consider the phenomenon of psych tests and the way they can be used and abused from a different perspective.
One of the commenters, a UK Director of a Human Resources and Business consultancy, related the story of a group of young graduates gathering together to complete online unsupervised ability tests for their friends. He says, “…There seems to be no shame in this (they see it) as a fair way of outwitting the tedious, repetitious and time-consuming automated selection processes so many businesses put in the way of bright graduates applying for jobs.”
I think this is really sad. Psychometric tests, or any other form of employee selection should never be used to get in the way of anyone applying for jobs, or getting them. All our staff selection processes, including psych tests, should be used to get the clearest picture possible of not only who will be the best person for the job, but also whether the job is the best fit for the applicant. It’s a two-way street, and all our selection processes should be applied well, carefully and humanely, in order to achieve the best decision possible, and the best outcome for everyone.
The idea of a conveyor belt, one-size-fits-all, psychometric testing (most especially ability testing!) also really concerns me. You would hope that ability tests would be carefully conducted, and the idea that we are becoming a society where we are so concerned with churning through processes for expedience, rather than doing things well and carefully, is frankly repugnant. If tests are conducted coldly and blithely, then can we be surprised that people might treat them blithely? Psych tests most certainly can be used for screening, but that doesn’t mean we should forget that candidates are people, or that we should do it cruelly, coldly, or cynically.
But another comment in the discussion is even more concerning. The Director of a Leadership and Human Resources and Development consultancy in the USA says, “Have you ever applied for a job online lately? … No feedback, no contact, no personal touch … No real opportunity to tell your story…”.
Further, he says that he has built and used tests for many years, but finds himself “…embarrassed by what passes for professional practice these days” And tellingly, he says, “ We say people are our most valuable resource but then treat them like cattle being led to the slaughter.”
I say it’s a call to arms! It doesn’t have to be this way, and shouldn’t be.
All of us who are involved in Human Resources, staff selection and development, recruiting, and test development and delivery need to be constantly aware that we are in the business of dealing with people’s lives. If we don’t treat people well and fairly, then we can’t expect them to treat our processes well and fairly.
You don’t need to cheat on psych tests. Lets make sure we deliver psych tests and our other processes so well, that we’re not cheating on candidates.
For all of us, our job and work life is one of the most important things we have in life. We need to keep remembering that.
NB: The results of the Psylutions survey have now been published. See HR Daily, Wed 24/8/2011
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