Honesty and psychological tests

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Updated: 11/23/2010 11:52 am
Since the Employee Polygraph Protection Act became effective, polygraph testing of job applicants has been virtually eliminated from private businesses and largely been replaced with honesty and psychological tests. More and more companies are using these tests as a method for improving the quality of their hiring decisions. Honesty and psychological tests are usually untimed, paper-and-pencil examinations consisting of a series of multiple choice and yes and no questions. The questions on honesty tests are typically aimed at the test-taker's attitude toward theft and lying. Other psychological tests may assess personality or problem solving skills. Once an applicant completes an honesty or psychological test, a profile is compiled using his or her answers to the questions. The applicant's profile is then compared to the answers of past test takers who've been independently judged honest and dishonest, or of sound and unsound mind. Since these tests are aimed at predicting an applicant's on the job integrity and performance, the results generally can have a major impact on hiring decisions. Of course, the accuracy and fairness of these tests can't be clearly determined given the ambiguous nature of most honesty and psychological tests. Furthermore, some courts have already concluded that these tests can intrude on the privacy interests of employees and applicants. However, until definitive legislation is passed, most private employers remain free to require honesty and psychological testing of their employees.
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