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References and Testing. Why Check References?. Check for resume fraud Find new information about the applicant Check for potential discipline problems Predict future performance. Why Check? 1/3 resumes contain inaccurate info over 500,000 people have bonus degrees Verifying Information

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Why check references
Why Check References?

  • Check for resume fraud

  • Find new information about the applicant

  • Check for potential discipline problems

  • Predict future performance

Checking for resume fraud

Why Check?

1/3 resumes contain inaccurate info

over 500,000 people have bonus degrees

Verifying Information





Obtaining Missing information

unintentional omission

strategic omission

deceptive omission

Alternative methods

bogus application items

social security reports

hire professional reference checkers

Checking for Resume Fraud

Finding new information about the applicant

Types of Information


interpersonal style


work habits


references seldom agree

people act in different ways in different situations

Alternative Measures

psychological tests

letters of recommendation




Finding New Information About the Applicant

Checking for potential discipline problems

Criminal Records

Previous employers

Motor vehicle records

Military records

Credit reports

Colleges and universities

Neighbors and friends

Checking for Potential Discipline Problems

Criminal records

Obtained from local and state agencies

Check with each jurisdiction

Only convictions can be used (EEOC Decision No. 72-1460)

“Reasonable amount of time” between release and decision to hire

In using convictions, employer must consider

Nature and gravity of offense

Amount of time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence

The nature of the job held or being sought

Criminal Records

Credit checks
Credit Checks

  • Purpose

    • Predict motivation to steal

    • Determine character of applicant

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act

    • Order through a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA)

    • Provide written notice to applicant to you will be checking credit

    • Get applicant’s written authorization to check credit

    • If adverse action is to be taken

      • Provide applicant with “Pre-adverse Action Disclosure” which includes copy of credit report

      • Inform applicant that they will not be hired due to credit check and provide name of CRA and notice of applicant rights to appeal within 60 days

Predicting future performance

References are not good predictors of performance

Uncorrected validity is .18

References are not reliable (r = .22)

High correlation between two letters written by the same person for two people than between letters written by two people for the same person

They say more about the person writing the letter than the person being written about

References are lenient

Fewer than 1% of applicants are rated below average!

Predicting Future Performance

Why the leniency
Why the Leniency?

  • Applicants often choose their own references

  • Applicants often have the right to see their files

  • Former employers fear legal ramifications

References and testing




Potential legal ramifications
Potential Legal Ramifications

  • Negligent hiring

  • Invasion of privacy

  • Negligent reference

  • Defamation


  • Three types

    • libel (written)

    • slander (oral)

    • self-publication

  • Employers have a conditional privilege that limits their liability

Avoiding liability for defamation employers will not be liable if their statements were


statements were true

not true, but reasonable person would have believed them to be true

opinions are protected unless reference infers opinion is based on facts that don’t exist

Made for a legitimate purpose

Made in good faith

don’t offer unsolicited information

statements cannot be made for revenge

avoid personal comments

Made with the permission of the applicant

use waivers

let the former employee know if the reference will not be positive

Avoiding Liability for DefamationEmployers will not be liable if their statements were

Extraneous factors surrounding the reference

Reference giver’s ability to articulate

The extent to which the referee remembers the applicant

The words used by the reference giver

cuter than a baby’s butt

she has no sexual oddities that I am aware of

I have an intimate and caring relationship with the applicant

Jill is a bud that has already begun to bloom

Extraneous Factors Surrounding the Reference

Personnel selection methods

Training & Education











Work Samples

Assessment Centers


Personality & Character

Personality Tests

Integrity Tests


Medical Exams

Psychological Exams

Drug Testing

Personnel Selection Methods

References and testing

Let's Talk

What types of employment tests have you taken?

Ratings of training
Ratings of Training

  • Education

  • Work-Related Training

  • Military

Education and incremental validity
Education and Incremental Validity

  • Schmidt & Hunter (1998) say no

    • Cognitive ability (r = .51)

    • Cognitive ability and education (r = .52)

Validity of gpa
Validity of GPA

  • GPA is a valid predictor of performance on the job, training performance, starting salary, promotions, and grad school performance

  • GPA is most predictive in the first few years after graduation (Roth et al., 1996)

  • GPA will result in high levels (d=.78) of adverse impact (Roth & Bobko, 2000)

  • People with high GPAs

    • Are intelligent (r = .50; Jensen, 1980)

    • Are conscientious (r = .34; Bevier et al., 1998)

Validity of gpa meta analysis results
Validity of GPAMeta-Analysis Results

Lingering questions
Lingering Questions

  • Is the validity of education job specific?

  • What is the actual incremental validity of education over cognitive ability?

  • Why would education predict performance?

    • Knowledge

    • Liberal arts skills

    • Mental ability

    • Motivation

Predicting performance using applicant knowledge
Predicting Performance Using Applicant Knowledge

  • Taps job-related knowledge

  • Good validity (ρ = .48)

  • Face valid

  • Can have adverse impact

Cognitive ability tests
Cognitive Ability Tests

  • High validity (ρ = .51)

  • Predicts training and job performance for all jobs (Hunter, 1986)

  • The more complex the job, the better cognitive ability tests predict performance

Cognitive ability tests1
Cognitive Ability Tests


  • Highest validity of all selection measures (ρ = .51)

  • Easy to administer

  • Relatively inexpensive

  • Most are not time consuming

Cognitive ability tests2
Cognitive Ability Tests


  • Likely to cause adverse impact

  • Low face validity

  • Not well liked by applicants

Perceptual ability tests
Perceptual Ability Tests

  • Perceptual Ability (Fleishman & Reilly (1992)

    • Vision (near, far, night, peripheral)

    • Depth perception

    • Glare sensitivity

    • Hearing (sensitivity, auditory attention, sound localization)

Psychomotor ability tests
Psychomotor Ability Tests

  • Psychomotor Ability (Fleishman & Reilly (1992)

    • Dexterity (finger, manual)

    • Control precision

    • Multilimb coordination

    • Response control

    • Reaction time

    • Arm-hand steadiness

    • Wrist-finger speed

    • Speed-of-limb movement

Physical ability
Physical Ability

  • Used for jobs with high physical demands

  • Three Issues

    • Job relatedness

    • Passing scores

    • When the ability must be present

  • Two common ways to measure

    • Simulations

    • Physical agility tests

Physical ability1
Physical Ability

Physical Abilities (Fleishman & Reilly, 1992)

  • Dynamic strength (strength requiring repetitions)

  • Trunk strength (stooping or bending over)

  • Explosive strength (jumping or throwing)

  • Static strength

  • Dynamic flexibility (speed of bending or stretching)

  • Extent flexibility (Degree of bending or stretching)

  • Gross body equilibrium (balance)

  • Gross body coordination (coordination)

  • Stamina

Work samples
Work Samples

  • Applicants perform tasks that replicate actual job tasks

  • Advantages

    • Directly related to the job

    • Good criterion validity

      • Verbal work samples (ρ = .48)

      • Motor work samples (ρ = .43)

    • Good face validity

    • Less adverse impact than cognitive ability

    • Provide realistic job previews

  • Disadvantages

    • Can be expensive to develop and maintain

Assessment centers what are they
Assessment CentersWhat are They?

  • A selection technique that uses multiple job-related assessment exercises and multiple assessors to observe and record behaviors of candidates performing job-related tasks

Guidelines for assessment center practices joiner 2000

Based on job analysis

Behavioral classification

Assessment techniques

Use multiple assessment exercises


Use multiple assessors

Assessor training

Recording behavior


Overall judgment based on integration of information

Guidelines for Assessment Center PracticesJoiner (2000)

Assessment center exercises
Assessment Center Exercises

  • Leaderless group discussions

  • In-basket technique

  • Simulations

    • Situational exercises

    • Work samples

  • Role plays

  • Case analyses and business games

Evaluation of assessment centers
Evaluation of Assessment Centers


  • Can have low inter-rater agreement among raters

  • Test/retest reliability pretty high (.70)

    Validity (Arthur et al., 2003)

  • Uncorrected .28

  • Corrected .38

  • Good face validity

Evaluation of assessment centers1
Evaluation of Assessment Centers


  • Very expensive

  • Time consuming

  • Can have low inter-rater agreement

  • Behaviors can overlap into several dimensions

  • Safety of candidates for some work samples

References and testing

When are assessment centers most appropriate?

  • Most useful for promotion rather than selection

  • When candidates have some knowledge of the job

  • When you have the money to develop and maintain assessment centers

  • When you have the time and trainers

Experience ratings
Experience Ratings

  • Past behavior predicts future behavior

    • Experience is a valid predictor of future performance (ρ = .27; Quinones et al., 1995)

  • Types of Experience

    • Work

    • Life


  • Evaluated through:

    • Application blanks

    • Resumes

    • Interviews

    • Reference checks

    • Biodata instruments


  • Considerations

    • How much experience?

    • How well did the person perform?

    • How related is it to the current job?

Experience predicts best
ExperiencePredicts Best…

  • Credit prior work experience only:

    • In the same occupational area as that in which performance is to be predicted

    • In the performance of tasks or functions that have direct application on the job

  • Recency of experience should be used as a decision rule for awarding credit only when justified on a case-by-case basis

  • Credit for duration of work experience should be limited to a few years.

  • High prediction up to about 3 years of experience, declining to low prediction for more than 12 years of experience.

Experience for selection some concerns
Experience for Selection: Some Concerns

  • Sullivan (2000) claims that “experience in solving ‘past problems’ is rapidly losing its applicability to current and future problems.”

  • Organizations will increase their applicant pool if they delete the “ancient history” requirements (i.e. “Ten years experience required”).

Sullivan 2000
Sullivan (2000)

  • Reduce or eliminate the number of years required in your ads and replace them with “the demonstrated ability to solve problems with our required level of difficulty.

  • Use simulations and actual problems to assess applicants.

  • Develop “future-oriented” questions for applicants.

  • Train evaluators and compensation professionals to put less weight on experience of candidates.

  • Revise job descriptions to include level of difficulty.

  • Identify the amount and type of experience and competencies that would predict job performance.

  • Check to see if there is a correlation between the number of years of experience an employee has and their success in your firm.

Experience some more concerns
Experience: Some More Concerns

  • Performance matters

  • “Haven’t done” doesn’t mean “can’t do”

  • Experience has a shelf life

  • Listing something on a resume is not experience

  • Where you get your experience matters

  • Experience does not guarantee success

  • Experience is expensive

  • More experience might be bad (old ways and ideas)


A selection method that considers an applicant’s life, school, military, community, and work experience

Example of biodata items
Example of Biodata Items

Member of high school student government?

Yes No

Number of jobs in past 5 years?

1 2 3-5 More than 5

Transportation to work:

Walk Bus Bike Own Car Other

Development of biodata items
Development of Biodata Items

  • Choose a job

  • Create pool of potential biodata items

  • Choose a criterion to measure behavior

  • Prescreen items and test on employees

  • Retest items on second sample of employees

Biodata standards gandy dye 1989 mael 1991
Biodata StandardsGandy & Dye, 1989; Mael, 1991

Strengths of biodata
Strengths of Biodata

  • Good validity (r = .36, ρ= .51)

  • Can predict for variety of criterion measures

  • Easy to administer

  • Relatively inexpensive

  • Fairly valid

  • Can have good face validity

Weaknesses of biodata
Weaknesses of Biodata

  • Low face validity

  • Can invade privacy

  • Items can be offensive

  • Expensive to develop

  • Not always practical to develop

Validity issues
Validity Issues

  • Shrinkage?

  • Good validity but not sure why

  • Validity seems to drop when items based rationally (job analysis) rather than empirically

References and testing

Predicting Performance Using

Personality, Interest, & Character

Personality inventories
Personality Inventories

Personality is a collection of traits that persist across time and situations and differentiate one person from another

Differences in personality inventories
Differences in Personality Inventories

  • Types of Personality Inventories

    • Measures of normal personality

    • Measures of psychopathology

  • Basis for Personality Dimensions

    • Theory based

    • Statistically based

    • Empirically based

  • Scoring

    • Objective

    • Projective

Five factor model the big 5
Five-Factor Model (The Big 5)

Openness to Experience

  • imaginative, curious, cultured


  • organized, disciplined, careful


  • outgoing, gregarious, fun-loving


  • trusting, cooperative, flexible

    Neuroticism (emotional stability)

  • anxious, insecure, vulnerable to stress

Comparison of meta analyses conscientiousness
Comparison of Meta-AnalysesConscientiousness

Evaluation of personality
Evaluation of Personality


  • Relatively cheap

  • Easy to administer

  • Little adverse impact

  • Predicts best when based on a job analysis


  • Scale development

  • Validity

  • Faking

Interest inventories
Interest Inventories

  • Tap an applicant’s interest in particular types of work or careers

  • Poor predictors of job performance (ρ = .13)

  • Better predictors of job satisfaction

Integrity tests
Integrity Tests

  • Estimate the probability that applicants will steal money or merchandise

  • Used mostly in retail, but gaining acceptance for other occupations

Types of integrity tests
Types of Integrity Tests

Electronic Testing

  • Polygraph testing

    Paper and Pencil Testing

  • Overt

  • Personality based

Polygraph testing
Polygraph Testing

  • Polygraph (lie detector) is a machine that measures the physiological responses that accompany the verbal responses an individual makes to a direct questions asked by polygraph operator.

Limitations of the polygraph
Limitations of the Polygraph

  • Emotions other than guilt can trigger responses

  • Countermeasures used to avoid detection

  • Frequency of false positives

  • Frequency of false negatives

Legal guidelines for polygraph testing
Legal Guidelines for Polygraph Testing

Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 makes it illegal to:

  • Directly or indirectly require an employee to take a polygraph

  • Use, accept, refer to, or inquire about the results of any polygraph test of any applicant or employee

  • Discharge, discipline, discriminate against, or deny employment or promotion to (or threaten such actions) against any prospective or current employee who refuses, declines, or fails to take or submit to a polygraph

Legal guidelines for polygraph testing1
Legal Guidelines for Polygraph Testing

The following are exempt from these prohibitions

  • Private employers providing security services

  • Employers who manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled substances

  • Federal, state, and local government employees.

Paper and pencil integrity tests
Paper and Pencil Integrity Tests

Overt integrity tests

  • Directly ask for attitudes about theft and occurrences of theft behavior

    Personality based measures

  • Measure traits linked to several theft related employee behaviors that are detrimental to the organization

Overt integrity tests
Overt Integrity Tests

Rationale is to measure job applicants’ attitudes and cognitions toward theft that might predispose them to steal at work, especially when both the need and opportunity to steal are present.

Research has shown that the “typical” employee-thief:

  • Is more tempted to steal

  • Engages in many of the common rationalizations for theft

  • Would punish thieves less

  • Often thinks about theft related activities

  • Attributes more theft to others

  • Shows more inter-thief loyalty

  • Is more vulnerable to peer pressure to steal than an honest employee

Personality based integrity measures
Personality-Based Integrity Measures

Employee theft is just one element in a larger syndrome of antisocial behavior of organizational delinquency. Therefore, overt integrity tests overlook a number of other counterproductive behaviors that are costly to the organization

Other behaviors integrity tests can predict
Other Behaviors Integrity Tests Can Predict

  • Drug and alcohol abuse

  • Vandalism

  • Sabotage

  • Assault behaviors

  • Insubordination

  • Absenteeism

  • Excessive grievances

  • Bogus workers compensation claims

  • Violence

The validity and reliability of integrity tests
The Validity and Reliability of Integrity Tests


  • Theft

    • .41 for predicting probability of theft by employees

  • Performance (Ones et al. 1993)

    • Observed = .21

    • True = .34


  • Reports of test-retest reliabilities between .90-.70

Evaluation of integrity tests
Evaluation of Integrity Tests

  • Advantages

    • Good validity (ρ= .34)

    • Inexpensive to use

    • Easy to administer

    • Little to no racial adverse impact

  • Disadvantages

    • Males have a higher fail rate than females

    • Younger people have a higher fail rate than older people

    • Failure has a negative psychological impact on applicants.

Conditional reasoning tests
Conditional Reasoning Tests

  • Designed to reduce faking

  • Applicants are given a series of statements and asked to select the reason that justifies each statement

  • Aggressive individuals tend to believe

    • most people have harmful intentions behind their behavior (hostile attribution bias)

    • it is important to show strength or dominance in social interactions (potency bias)

    • it is important to retaliate when wronged rather than try to maintain a relationship (retribution bias)

    • powerful people will victimize less powerful individuals (victimization bias)

    • evil people deserve to have bad things happen to them (derogation of target bias)

    • social customs restrict free will and should be ignored (social discounting bias).


  • Concept

    • A person’s handwriting is a reflection on his or her personality and character

  • Use

    • 6,000 U.S. organizations

    • 75% of organizations in France

    • 8% of organizations in the United Kingdom

  • Evaluation

    • Few studies

    • Validity depends on the writing sample (Simner & Goffin, 2003)

      • Autobiographical (r = .16, p = .22)

      • Non-autobiographical (r = .09, p = .12)

References and testing

Predicting Performance Using

Drug Testing, Psychological Screening, & Medical Exams

Drug testing
Drug Testing

  • Use

    • In 2001, 80% of U.S. organizations tested for drugs

    • In 2003, 4.6% of applicants tested positive for drugs

    • In 2007, 8.2% of employees admitted to using drugs in the past month

  • Drug users are more likely to

    • Miss work

    • Use health care benefits

    • Be fired

    • Have an accident

Drug testing1
Drug Testing

Forms of Testing

  • Pre-employment testing

  • Random selection at predetermined times

  • Random selection at random times

  • Testing after an accident or disciplinary action

    Responses to the Presence of Drugs

  • 98% of job offers withdrawn

  • Current employees who test positive

    • 25% are fired after a positive test

    • 66% are referred to counseling and treatment

Two stages of drug testing
Two Stages of Drug Testing

  • Initial screening of hair or urine

    • Cheaper method (about $50)

    • Enzyme Multiplied Immunoassay Technique (EMIT)

    • Radioimmunoassay (RIA)

  • Confirmation test

    • Typically used only after a positive initial screening

    • Thin layer chromatography/mass spectrometry

    • More expensive

References and testing

Let's Talk

Should Organizations Test for Drugs?

Adverse impact
Adverse Impact Techniques

References and testing

Putting it all Together Techniques

Applied Case Study:

New London, CT Police Department

Focus on ethics using personality inventories
Focus on Ethics TechniquesUsing Personality Inventories

  • In your class, your professor will probably ask you to take the Employee Personality Inventory in your workbook. After you do, consider whether or not you want your job performance to be judged based on the results of such a test. Would you say that this test would fairly predict your ability to perform in certain jobs?

  • Does it accurately portray how you would fit into an organization’s culture or how you would get along with others? If it doesn’t accurately portray you, would you then say such a test is

  • unethical?

  • Should the tests be better regulated? Are companies right in using them in their selection process?

Focus on ethics using personality inventories1
Focus on Ethics TechniquesUsing Personality Inventories

  • Do you see any other ethical concerns related to using personality inventories?

  • Is there a fairer and more ethical way for companies to determine if applicants will fit into the organizational culture and get along with others?