Integrity Tests Fraught With Contradictions

Aug 1, 2011
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I enjoyed reading “Your Cheating Heart” (June), but I am afraid the article may have painted too rosy a picture regarding the usefulness of integrity and personality tests to detect applicant deception.

Research suggests that roughly 30 percent of applicants fake their responses to integrity and personality tests (Griffith and Converse, 2011). So while less adept fakers are screened out of the applicant pool, integrity and personality tests are actually gateways for deceptive applicants to enter the organization. The most disturbing notion is that those who do successfully fake personality measures are more likely to engage in counterproductive work behaviors (Peterson et al., 2011). So when publishers of integrity and personality measures claim to be screening out deceptive applicants, we should be asking who is faking whom?

Richard Griffith
Melbourne, Fla.

Thank you for your article regarding the use and practice of “integrity testing.” I was especially appreciative of your mention and treatment of “false positives.”

While I agree with valid testing, I am conflicted with the necessary oxymoronic position that was mentioned within the article, namely that if an applicant states that they have never stolen anything, a “too-good-to-be-true” response is triggered. While not perfect by any means, I find myself failing at least this question regarding integrity, due to the fact that I have never stolen anything—never. Potentially at least, the greater integrity an individual possesses, the lower he would score.

This simply highlights the challenge that HR practitioners face every day: to create not only processes and systems that evaluate and predict future behavior accurately but to reward, recognize and evaluate actions individuals have taken as well as those individuals themselves.

Sometimes too-good-to-be-true is just that, and sometimes it is simply true. The difficult part is knowing the difference.

Integrity testing, I believe, is effective en masse but could work against itself on an individual basis. As for me, I think I’ll plot my course to increasing my integrity score; lifting the next copy of HR Magazine will at least move me up one category.

Thank you for your great magazine; it is indispensible.

Fred Millen
Anchorage, Alaska

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