With personality tests playing an ever more central role in the job application process we look at some of the more popular psychological tests on the market and what they involve.
What are they?
As the name suggest honesty assessments (also known an integrity tests) are used by employers to assess the honest and integrity of individuals applying for roles by gauging how they respond to a set of questions or imagined scenarios. They can appear in different guises – openly labelled as honesty tests, for example, or as questions hidden within a broader job assessment or general interview questions.
What does the test look at?
These tests are designed to evaluate the honesty and dependability of a candidate by looking at personality aspects linked to these positive traits – e.g. an applicant’s maturity, altruism or social conscientiousness. While some tests may present the applicant with questions related to involvement in illegal behaviour or past transgressions, the questions are typically of a hypothetical nature.
What does the test actually look like?
Integrity tests take many forms. They can be given orally, with employers asking the candidate questions about past experiences; or they can be administered via paper or electronic examination. These questions come in a variety of formats, from comprehensive questions (where the candidate might react to a picture or a scenario) to scaled-response questions.
An example of a question may look like this:
• How would you react if your manager asked you to do something that violated company policy?
• Indicate the degree to which you consider the following action acceptable or unacceptable on a scale of 1 to 5:
“A customer at a store receives an extra £5 in change and decides to keep it rather than inform the cashier of the error.”
What does the assessor get out of it?
Each employer will have their own reasons for administering a test; however, they will usually be looking to form a picture of how the candidate is likely to behave in the workplace. Testing for honesty or integrity is especially important in roles where employees are handling money or sensitive information, for example. In some cases they may be looking for potential red flags by exposing candidates who are liable to engage in damaging behaviour such as theft, absenteeism or workplace altercations.
Performing in the test
To be clear, employers aren’t necessarily looking for the perfect, whiter than white employee. In fact, purposely not admitting to minor indiscretions from your past is likely to arouse suspicions about your integrity. Rather than trying to give the answers you think they want to hear, spend time before the test thinking about where you actually stand on integrity or moral issues. Do your own assessment using sample questions available online – would you cover for a colleague who’d broken the rules, for example?
While you need to keep your wits about you and understand what you’re facing, remember that the aim of these types of tests is not to put you on trial. Assuming you don’t have any major skeletons lurking in your closet, approach them honest intentions and you should have nothing to worry amount.