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Psychometric Properties   | 5 Min Read

Can Applicants Fake Psychometric Tests?

Written By Ankur Tandon


Like it or detest it, cultural fit-based recruitment is extremely popular right now. The present managers hire those candidates who they feel have a decent personality, e.g. who they believe they can be companions with and those who are suitable enough to fit in the work culture. In fact, this is turning out to be more significant than a candidate’s experience and achievements.

This implies determining a person’s behavior, attitude and beliefs can eliminate, at any rate, a portion of the uncertainty while assessing whether someone will be a good fit. However, there are chances of suspicion in the HR world that applicants know how to fake the psychometric tests. That they are capable of presenting a false personality to match the job role and disguising their true self.

Is it really possible for candidates to outsmart psychometric tests?

Theoretically, Yes.

As per the job description, candidates can very well extract out the standard set of character sets that employers look for. For instance, conscientiousness, integrity, teamwork and persistence, these are some of the competencies which anyone could figure out. This leads them to somehow adjust their test responses in a way that they match with those required. Also, if you search on the internet, you may find several tips on how to fake psychometric tests.

Well, it’s an individual’s personality and behavior at the other end. As a matter of fact, hardly anyone can practice or rehearse the answers to questions that ask if he/she loves to read books in free time or rather travel. I mean these are just random and quick answers which are obviously unique for everyone.

In addition, if you dig a little deeper, people leverage certain superfluous and funny tactics to game psychometric assessments.

superfluous tactics to game psychometric tests

I still remember, in my school days, I extremely liked chewing gums. However, gradually it either lost its taste or I got bored of chewing it. Without anyone knowing, I used to stick the gum underneath the desk just to get rid of it. Interestingly, as I grew older, I started noticing that I wasn’t the only one doing this and there was hardly any desk with gum not stuck to it.

Well, the point is it takes no time for people to deviate from the social norms that society has laid out for us. Similarly, when it comes to psychometric tests, candidates are very comfortable faking it or providing positive or extremes responses just to be someone else who they aren’t. Let’s go through some of the biases people follow while responding.

psychometric tests

Understanding Response Bias

Response bias is a sort of inclination which impacts an individual's response far from facts and reality. This is most commonly seen in circumstances where surveys, reports or questionnaire are employed.

Well, this can clearly skew your information and bring the wrong outcomes, and it, for the most part, isn't on the grounds that anybody needs to disturb your outcomes. Response bias is only the aftereffect of natural human traits.

faking is a sign of competence

We, at Mettl, take this into account while designing and conducting tests. Let’s go through some of the common response bias and how Mettl’s psychometric tests deal with this.

types of response bias

  • Social Desirability Bias

It is the tendency to portray oneself in an unrealistically positive or socially desirable manner. Some teenagers with habits like drinking or smoking might fall under this kind of bias. They are the ones committed to introducing themselves in a superior light than they actually stand.

This happens because people want to appear as if they are good or in fact socially acceptable ones.

For instance, candidates, while taking psychometric tests, use to choose the options that portray the ideal image of personality. In that case, they tend to answer “Most like me” (or other such options) in the maximum of the answers. Our tests depict if this situation arrives and the candidate is then cautiously recommended

  • Extreme Responding Bias

It is the tendency of a respondent to endorse extreme response categories on a rating scale even if they do not have that view. Taking the example of Uber, although the rider followed the shortest path at desirable speed and provided a 5-star service, still many people rate them 1 out of 5; maybe their friend had some disaster someday.

This happens when someone has a willingness to please or totally opposite.

For instance, there are candidates who choose the least or the highest response, no matter what their true stance is. They target to either love or hate everything. Our tests are based on the algorithm that detects if this happens for more than a particular time in either direction, this style is highlighted in the report and the candidate might not get recommended.

  • Acquiescence Bias

As the name proposes, acquiescence bias is the sort in which a respondent has a tendency to consent to every one of the questions in the questionnaire. This kind of inclination is probably going to result in untruthful detailing as the person may concur with two opposing responses. He/she might, at one point imply that they prefer to be alone while another response could infer they enjoy other’s company.

This happens because people are inclined to say “Yes”.

We, at Mettl have a special column for this in our report which would act as a proof that the candidate was either unsure or tried to lie in here.

  • Central Tendency Bias

The opposite of extreme responding bias is neutral responding, wherein a subject may not be intense about giving the test and would just check impartial responses to accelerate. It also indicates the person is prone to answering with utmost honesty.

This happens when someone is either unsure or in hurry or wants to take the neutral way out.

Well, this is common while taking psychometric tests, for candidates, in terms of imposing good image, can’t really agree or disagree. Hence, they choose the middle one to neither agree nor disagree. Mettl’s psychometric tools are designed in a way that this is highlighted in the report if it crosses a certain level. In fact, it also points out if the candidate selects any one response maximum of the times, which is called careless responding bias.

tricking your way into job-role

Well, these response bias and their detection are more than enough for a psychometric test to be sacred. When a candidate is not “red flagged” using any of the above decision rules and one can proceed with confidence that the response pattern is usable. The response is hence considered genuine and the candidate recommended based upon the cut-off score.

Technical Possibilities

At Mettl, we provide Remote Proctoring along with our assessments which is imperative to guarantee the validity of the test. The various types of response biases are the result of human traits. Apart from these, there are some other physical measures of malpractices. For all of the tactics that candidates follow and also have been discussed in the above sections, Remote proctoring provides zero resilience to cheating and untrustworthy conduct of tests.

In addition to these, some technical ways also report to the insights like how a candidate completes an assessment, like their response time, the options they choose and how many times they edit their responses, and several other parameters.

Wrapping Up

psychometric tests reliablity

With almost all kinds of response bias taken into account plus the technical coverage of the tests, it’s almost an impossible task to outsmart our psychometric assessments. Our reliable and valid psychometric tools guarantee that tests can’t be gamed.

After all, assessments are the first point of contact of the organization or managers with the candidates. And no organization would ever want to start the relationship with a lack of trust.

Try Our Psychometric Assessments.


Topics: Psychometric Properties

Originally published June 29 2019,updated October 12 2019

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