Blog Article

Fraud, Psychometrics and the Polygraph

Posted by Rosana Wayand

Rosana Wayand

“It’s not a lie… if you believe it”. That’s how you can beat the polygraph according to George Constanza (Seinfield episode 107). Most people, however, are not that confident at telling lies. Following his friend’s advice, Jerry Seinfeld failed miserably at the lie detector test. Mythbusters put the polygraph to the test but the team could not beat the machine.

Even though lying is such a difficult task, the number of people intentionally embellishing, fabricating and misrepresenting their credentials to get a job is on the rise. Research indicates that a third of candidates misrepresent themselves in some way. Recent cases of resume fraud have sounded alarm bells all over the recruitment industry. Follow this link for some colourful stories.

Perhaps candidates that bend the truth in their application think of it as a victimless crime, are over-confident that they can do the job even though they do not meet the selection criteria, are scared of the prospect of long-term unemployment or simply think they will not get caught. However they rationalise it, there is always a victim and the problem is costing businesses $400 billion a year.

Hiring managers and recruiters can play an important role in identifying potentially fraudulent candidates early in the recruitment process with the use of psychometric assessments. People can easily manipulate their resume but it is extremely difficult to outsmart a robust personality test that has been validated by extensive statistical data and authenticated against behaviour over of time.

Candidates can attempt to ‘fake good’ in a personality test to paint a picture that they believe closely matches the desired role. But a robust test takes that into account and captures data in a way which makes it almost impossible for candidates to manipulate their results. In addition, the test can sound alarm bells to the trained assessor who can identify areas to be cross-checked in an interview. The best tests will provide the assessor with an interview guide based on the behaviours assessed.

Rigorous psychometric tests don’t lie. They provide a valid, reliable representation of candidates and their work preferences, and provide a very good indication of future performance. However, no test can predict future human behaviour with 100% accuracy (in the same way that the polygraph cannot confirm past behaviour 100% of the time – there will always be George Constanzas out there). Although they are not a crystal ball, modern psychometrics tests measure and match a candidate’s ability and personality to the job’s requirements and can mitigate candidate integrity risks. Other methods are not as scalable and can be prohibitively expensive.

Hay Group and Talent Q support clients worldwide with the provision of online psychometric assessments that are rigorous and objective. Our tests offer an independent measure of a person’s competencies, abilities, personality and motivation and can be used to identify new talent as well as potential in your existing employee pool. To learn more about psychometrics for the workplace click here.


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1 Comment

  1. Soumendra


    March 4, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Are there psychometric instruments to identify potential fraudsters. If so, what is their reliability. Are you working with any Banks in this area.

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