To Cheat Or Not To Cheat?

A new research study has shown that there is a small but determined minority of job applicants who are prepared to use a variety of cheating methods to get through the various stages of employer recruitment processes…

The study by international HR consultancy Cubiks, entitled ‘Getting into the minds of candidates’, captured the views of 500 undergraduates and postgraduates from across the UK.

This revealed that candidates are more likely to take advantage of conventional recruitment channels such as the CV and application form rather than online assessment exercises which are increasingly being used by modern businesses.

For example, 15% of respondents said they would be prepared to gain an unfair advantage using their CV, 13% using an application form, 11% via an unsupervised ability test and 10% via an unsupervised personality / competency questionnaire.

These findings are reflected in a separate study of employers also carried out by Cubiks which found that 86% of employers think that the CVs and application forms they receive contain lies and exaggerations.

When asked to identify the methods they had used to cheat when completing unsupervised ability tests, 5% reported that they had asked friends or relatives to assist them during a test. 4% of respondents said that they had managed to get hold of test questions in advance. The same number reported that they had practiced tests under a pseudonym and 2% had even attempted to circumvent the technology used to deliver the test.

Louisa Tate, Principal Consultant at Cubiks said: “Whilst employers should be encouraged to hear that the majority of candidates are honest, it is nevertheless troubling for them to know that there are those who are quite prepared to cheat, often in very determined ways, if they think it will help them to secure a job.”

“This demonstrates why it is so important for employers to use a combination of different security measures to beat the cheats, and not simply trust CVs which will only show candidates in the best possible light. Clearly there are candidates who have no issue with being economical with the truth and employers have to be able to outsmart such people.”{mospagebreak}

Motivations for cheating and prime deterrents
When asked to explain their motivation for cheating, the most common reasons respondents gave was that they either really wanted the job or they felt they would be good at the job if only they could get through the selection process. A small number of candidates said they were prepared to cheat in assessments because they considered the likelihood of getting caught to be very low and few said they would cheat to avoid the embarrassment of failing.

The prime deterrent against cheating appears to be the honesty of candidates Almost four-fifths (79%) reported that their honesty would be enough to stop them acting unfairly, a fifth said an honesty contract with the employer would discourage them from cheating and almost the same number said they would be deterred by the possibility of a re-test later in the selection process. Interestingly, 23% reported that their faith would prevent them resorting to unfair means.
Home is most popular location for completing online assessments.

The study demonstrated that ability tests are now firmly established as a key selection tool for modern graduate employers and are increasingly being delivered by organisations in online formats. Over three-quarters of survey respondents (77%) had completed an ability test for selection purposes and 62% had completed a computerised ability test in unsupervised conditions.

The vast majority (85%) of those who had taken part in an unsupervised test had completed the test at home. 78% also stated that their home was also their preferred location. 31% had completed a test in a university computer room and 18% in a private office.

Confidence of candidate influences perceptions of fairness
The study also revealed that the more confident a candidate feels about facing an unsupervised ability test, the more likely they are to perceive the test as being fair, and the more likely they are to enjoy the testing experience. Factors that appear to influence how a test is perceived include its relevance to the role, its ease of use, the level of support provided to candidates and whether the test is used as part of a wider series of assessments.

Louisa Tate, continued: “It is clear that employers who want to promote a positive employer brand image must not overlook the role that their selection process plays in this. Organisations must clearly communicate to candidates how tests will be used, provide a range of background information about the testing process and, where possible, allow candidates to familiarise themselves with the types of questions they will encounter in advance of their assessment by giving them access to practice tests.

“Employers can also benefit from developing bespoke assessments that are tailored to reflect scenarios candidates would be faced within their particular organisation. Such assessments allow candidates to understand the type of tasks they will be required to perform if they are successful. There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that such measures can be highly valuable for both employers and candidates, as they encourage less suitable candidates to drop out of the recruitment process and encourage better performing candidates to continue with their application.

“The overwhelming conclusion from this survey is that unsupervised ability testing is now firmly established as a key selection mechanism and can play an invaluable role in filtering out unsuitable candidates. However, businesses must use security measures such as the threat of random re-tests to minimise the possibility of cheating and must also clearly communicate the steps they are taking to ensure candidate confidence.”