The short answer is yes, in theory, they could. They could get a friend to sit the online test instead of themselves. They could look up the answers online. They might even phone their mother for help. And, while it’s not technically cheating, how is the employer supposed to know their candidates aren’t simply making randomized guesses on multiple choice tests?
Yet, employers don’t often end up employing cheaters and lucky-guessers anyway. Why? Because employers have many ways of catching the dishonest candidates out, and some of them are subtler than others. From conducting verification questions and answers at the post-test interview stage, to using cleverly designed testing platforms which points out candidates’ inconsistencies. Here are three insights into these well-developed processes.
Recruitment specialists have said time and time again: psychometric tests are not a substitute for other application procedures. The tests are an extremely useful tool to filter out candidates without the required skills, but the employer can’t get the whole picture of a person from their test results alone – even if the test did include a personality questionnaire.
For this reason, employers are likely to also conduct interviews and/or ask candidates to attend an assessment day to take part in group exercises. Moreover, they can then easily conduct verification tests; by placing the test results of their candidates’ psychometric tests alongside their notes from interview days.
It is quite common for candidates to tweak or exaggerate parts of CV to get the job. This is where the social desirability indicator included in many modern candidate tests comes in. Originally developed from social science research, which noted the tendency of survey respondents to answer in accordance with fulfilling social norms, it is now factored into modern recruitment procedure.
Advanced versions of computerised tests will be able to highlight when a candidate has consistently clicked on the extreme answer options, thus pointing out that they may be exaggerating. Nonetheless, even without this software, it will be easy to see whether a candidate is exaggerating if you can compare both on-the-day interviews and exercises with their results data.
Thought not all employers will have the time or space to conduct these inhouse, this is one of the more obvious ways to filter out cheats. If employers are seriously worried they may host the candidates’ tests within their office or in a test centre where they can keep everyone under close supervision.
Essentially, candidates can cheat but there still are many uncomplicated ways to avoid hiring these types of candidates. Most importantly, the test should never be a stand-alone application procedure. Instead, they provide a useful data sheet for comparison-making. And after all, it is concrete data that is usually lacking in making hiring decisions.