Do candidates cheat on pre-hire assessments?
That depends on what you classify as cheating. For the purposes of this article, I’m not referring to personality tests for which employers tell candidates that there are no wrong answers, even though we all know there most certainly are. I’m not talking about individuals checking boxes that they think employers want them to check. Every candidate does that — and no, I don’t have proof of this, because I shouldn’t have to prove that we are all liars.
Oh, but if I must, research reveals that:
- 78% of job applicants lie during the hiring process, according to Checkster
- 22% of job applicants lie about lying during the hiring process or don’t get caught, according to me
(I will also add this: Please, please don’t feed me nonsense about assessments allegedly designed to prevent gaming the system. Candidates will always find ways to present their best rather than their real selves. Those who do it well are probably your best candidates.)
Right now, I’m talking about pre-employment tests meant to gauge skills and knowledge, where questions have definitive, non-subjective answers. With the hiring process going virtual due to the pandemic, companies aren’t able to administer proctored exams. Indeed, 83% of organizations are implementing assessments in an unproctored setting. But as candidates take such tests online, there’s greater risk that they will cheat.
I recently posted in ERE’s Facebook Group about this issue, writing that:
I have a friend — for real, a friend; this is not an after-school special! — who’s taking an online assessment that includes a really difficult logic question. He sent it to me to get my take. (Is that unethical of him? Keep reading this.) I sat there trying for 25 min to figure it out. It’s HARD. And then I decided to Google the problem. Turns out, it’s all over the internet because it’s an LSAT question used in study prep. I told him the answer. (Is that unethical of me, now? I can live with that judgment.) But here’s where I’m really going with this: Which would you value more:
(A) A candidate who spent 20 min but still got the question wrong, yet described his thought process.
(B) A candidate who spent 20 min and got the question right.
(C) A candidate who spent 2 min and got the question right because he Googled or asked a friend.
A whole bunch of group members chimed in with their views, generating a healthy amount of disagreement and debate. While numerous respondents found (C) distasteful or unethical, I think it’s the best option. Here’s how I explained my decision: Read more here…