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Tell the Truth – Ever Lie on a Job Application? (I bet you did)

29 Sept 2015

Lie on a Job ApplicationMost people who fill out a job application don’t tell the truth.

They may deliberately lie in order to not reveal something they think may disqualify them for the job, or they may not know the truth about themselves enough to even realize they are lying.

A good comprehensive behavioral assessment needs to have an effective means to elicit truthful answers and determine areas in which the person is either confused or giving untruthful answers.

Behavioral assessments have different ways to do this. Some attempt to determine the reliability of answers by offering two words or statements along with a third answer option that always states “in between.” If the person answers too many items as “in between,” the results are considered unreliable.

While this may sometimes give some indication of answer reliability, it is a very ambiguous and questionable method, since in many cases the most truthful answer IS “in between.” For example, “Are you extroverted, introverted or in between?”

There are other much more effective mechanisms that help to obtain truthful answers.

First, focusing on work-related preferences demonstrates a concern for what is important to the applicant or employee and thus reduces the tendency to skew answers.

In addition, if various work preference statements are required to be ranked within a group of other statements, the applicant or employee is forced to give their priorities. If the statements appear more than once but in different groups, it can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to gather extensive behavioral information while at the same time detect the consistency of the person’s answers.

This ranking method can also help to prevent deception if the items ranked are all positive items in which it is difficult to say which ones are better. Even if individuals attempt to give the “right” answer, their own behavior patterns tend to dictate which answers they consider are right.

For example, if a person tends to be very frank and direct, he/she will consider this tendency to be a virtue as well as a desirable answer.

You might ask, “If all the items are positive, how can an assessment determine negative factors?” The extent of counter-productive tendencies can be determined by analyzing the paradoxical relationships between the positive factors without asking any negative questions and without the person having the  extroverted, introverted or in between?”

There are other much more effective mechanisms that help to obtain truthful answers. First, focusing on work-related preferences demonstrates a concern for what is important to the applicant or employee and thus reduces the tendency to skew answers. In addition, if various work preference statements are required to be ranked within a group of other statements, the applicant or employee is forced to give their priorities. If the statements appear more than once but in different groups, it can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to gather extensive behavioral information while at the same time detect the consistency of the person’s answers.

Behavior is typically very tricky to assess due to its paradoxical nature. It might appear that we can look at a single attribute in and of itself in order to determine if that attribute is positive. However, if an attribute doesn’t have other balancing factors, it becomes a negative factor. For example, being highly motivated to achieve is nearly always considered to be a good characteristic. A single trait in itself is never a strength or a weakness. It has to be analyzed relative to its complementary or paradoxical pair in order to gain an accurate insight. However, if it is not balanced with appropriate people skills, stress management and the tendency to explore all important issues before taking action, the would-be positive factor actually becomes a negative factor.

In another example, being direct, straightforward and truthful can be important for effective communication.

However, when not balancing communication with tact and respect, the would- be positive tendency becomes a serious hindrance.

These balances are different for different jobs. For example, customer service jobs require a stronger emphasis on tactfulness whereas managers will generally perform better with a balance between the two. By considering the paradoxical relationship between traits, such imbalances can be accurately measured without having to ask any negative questions.

Employees need to obtain insight into how their behaviors affect their specific job.

From the employer’s point of view, it is essential to obtain an accurate measurement of a wide range of potentially counter-productive factors such as being dogmatic, easily influenced, defensive, self-critical, impulsive, blindly optimistic, skeptical, overly cautious, logical, illogical, stubborn, scattered, authoritarian, defers decisions, under achiever, stressed achiever, permissive, punitive, resistant to change, addicted to change, rebellious, insensitive, blunt, evasive, over sensitive, and many more.This is critical for making hiring decisions and just as important for employee development and team development.

The Harrison Assessment for job suitability helps identify these paradoxical relationships as well as measure suitability for a particular job description.



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