All employers take a little bit of a risk when they hire a new employee. Will the employee excel in the job? Will the employee fit in with the company culture? Will the employee be happy with the job responsibilities associated with the position? These are all normal concerns that any hiring manager may have. Pre-employment tests can help address these concerns by providing employers with data-driven insights that have been shown to predict performance, and thus reduce the risk of an unproductive hire.
However, one particular type of test, commonly called an “integrity test,” is designed not so much to predict overall productivity, but to help employers avoid more specific risks relating to what Industrial and Organizational psychologists classify as counterproductive work behaviors (CWB). These relate to some questions you don’t want to have to worry about: Will the employee steal from the company? Will the employee reveal confidential information or trade secrets? Will the employee follow the general rules and ethics outlined by the company’s policies?
All of these questions drill down to an employee’s general reliability and rule-following tendencies. Employees who fail to follow rules or who engage in unethical behavior can impose great harm on their companies. Finding ways to minimize this risk is a wise step for employers to take.
Integrity tests that assess CWBs are most commonly used for entry-level positions for which trustworthiness and rule-following is especially important. CWBs are behaviors that undermine and potentially harm a company. Some examples include tardiness, absenteeism, substance abuse, sexual harassment, theft, fraud, and workplace bullying.
These sorts of behaviors can have serious consequences. For instance, a manufacturing company that hires employees who regularly operate machinery may want to use an integrity test to help avoid adverse safety-related incidents. Even though the company provides employees with strict safety procedures for how to use the machinery, an employee who may be more averse to following rules might ignore safety protocol and become seriously injured, or even injure other employees. Reducing safety risks has obvious benefits in terms of ensuring employee well-being, protecting an employer’s brand, and saving costs related to workers’ compensation.
Preventing these types of incidents is clearly in a company’s best interests. While there’s no magic bullet for eliminating counterproductive workplace behaviors entirely, taking a risk management approach can help minimize potential liability. Integrity tests are useful tools for assessing the likelihood that an employee will act in a way that may harm the company. By using integrity tests in the hiring process, employers can narrow down their applicant pool to focus on the job candidates who demonstrate attitudes most associated with productivity, rule adherence, and honesty.