Detecting Candidates That Are Too Good To Be True

Welcome to the August 2, 2006 edition of The Total View
published by Success Performance Solutions, Written by Ira S. Wolfe

1.    Detecting Candidates That Are Too Good To Be True

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is:  "Can’t candidates fake out your tests?"

The answer is yes. Anyone can do anything if they really want to. 

The better question is: "Can we detect if a candidate attempted to create a good impression by faking the response?"

To that the answer is yes, too.  Coincidentally this measure is called Good Impression by one publisher of assessments. (Other publishers and psychologists have called it Social Desirability, Positive Response, and fakability.)  The explanation in the "JobClues Technical and Administrative Manual" of what this Good Impression scale measures is one of the best I’ve read.   I wanted to share it with you. 

It is readily apparent, even to psychologists,  that responses to personality tests are easily faked. That is, the "correct" answer to many, if not most, personality test items is transparent and there is a natural tendency for applicants in selection situations to represent themselves in an especially favorable manner. Excessive motivation in this direction would obviously distort the applicant’s scores across the scales. It would seem obvious to most people that it is not in one’s best interests to admit on a test to being nervous, to avoid social situations, or usually to be late to appointments, especially when the test is being used as part of a job screening process.

Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that "obvious" items are invariably found to be the more valid ones, as compared to more "subtle" items that attempt to ask the same kinds of questions in a more roundabout fashion. Thus, those of us who develop personality tests tend to ask direct questions and then to include a scale that attempts to identify individuals who are extreme in their attempts to make a good impression by routinely giving answers that deny the presence of any problems whatever, even those that most people find it easy to acknowledge.

The Good Impression Scale in JobCLUES, like other such scales, is composed of items that inquire about behavior that is "too good to be true." For example, one item is "I have never told a lie, even to spare the feelings of a friend." If a respondent answers too many of these items in the direction of making a good impression, then one must question whether this individual’s profile on Job-CLUES accurately reflects the person’s personal and interpersonal characteristics. At the very least, a test profile with a very high Good Impression scale score needs to be reviewed with great caution.

At the same time, it is important to understand that high Good Impression scores are themselves are indicative of a particular set of personality characteristics, including being highly socially sensitive, finding it difficult to accept any blame, and being very eager to win social acceptance. Although these characteristics may be useful for some jobs, such as a social director or a restaurant maitre d’, they likely would preclude success in quality control and many supervisory jobs.

As always, using the Good Impression scale, like the other scales, requires an understanding of the task requirements of the job, and that can be obtained only by a careful job analysis.
2. Perfect Labor Storm Alerts #560 to #561

Fact #560:  A total of 40 percent of public school teachers say they don’t expect to be in the classroom five years from now. The rate is expected to be even greater among high school teachers, half of whom plan to be out of teaching by 2010. (Source: National Center for Education Information)

Fact #561:  In 1996, 24 percent of teachers were age 50 or older. By 2005, 42 percent of teachers are. (Source: National Center for Education Information)

Don’t be caught in storm without all the facts. "The Perfect Labor Storm Fact Book: Why Worker Shortages Won’t Go Away" is a must-read leading edge forecast that predicts workforce trends for decades to come. Order your copy today – Only $7.95 at http://

Don’t miss day-to-day updates on Perfect Labor Storm. Save the Perfect Labor Storm blog to your favorites:

3.  Get Clues Before You Hire

The JobClues™ Assessment measures an individual’s core behavioral traits and cognitive reasoning speed.  The reporting then describes those measurements in the context of various job categories and what affect they may have on performance.  The specific measurements are:

• Conscientious (Organization):  Describes the degree to which the individual is persistent, motivated, and organized, ranging from being highly disciplined and dependable to being lackadaisical and carefree.
• Tough-Minded (Likable):  Describes the degree to which the person is pleasant and agreeable, ranging from being warm, tolerant, and tactful, to being tough-minded, skeptical and direct.
• (Un)Conventional (Rules):  Describes the degree to which the individual is predictable, rules oriented and structured, to being open to new ideas, adventuresome and inconsistent.
• Extroverted:  Describes the style and focus of an individual’s emotional energy, ranging from being outgoing, dominant, ambitious, and sociable, to being introverted, shy, and quiet.
• Stable:  Involves the degree to which an individual is emotionally stable and resistant to stress, ranging from being well-adjusted, calm, self-confident, and poised, to being sensitive and anxious.
• Teamwork:  In addition, Clues includes a Teamwork scale that measures the applicant’s attitudes towards teamwork versus individualized work environments.
• Good Impression: A validity scale that measures the degree to which the person has responded frankly to the test items or is responding in such a way as to make a good impression.
• Cognitive Reasoning:  A general reasoning scale that measures problem solving and learning speed.

JobClues™ is available in English, Spanish, and soon Chinese languages.  Additionally, specialty suites are available for Healthcare, Hospitality, Property Management, Staffing, and Construction.
There are also “coaching” reports available for use with current employees: our DevelopmentClues™ suite of reports includes PerformanceClues™, ExecutiveClues™, Leadership Identifier, and Leadership Development. 

Over 50 benchmarked job templates are now available. View sample reports at:
4. Quotes from Hire Authorities

Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation; inaction saps the vigor of the mind.
Leonardo da Vinci

5.  Motivating Hispanic Employees
A Practical Guide to Understanding and Managing Hispanic Employees

Hispanics make up a huge percentage of the workforce in the hotel, food, manufacturing, service and many other industries. As a manager or co-worker do you understand the motives and needs behind the behaviors? Do you want to learn how to create a more inclusive environment, and how to increase your effectiveness with cross-cultural communication to get results?

Learn more at:

Ira S. Wolfe Copyright 2006 – All Rights Reserved. Reprints and other distribution by permission only.


Ira S Wolfe