[IPAC-List] Mistakes in selection

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Tue Nov 22 10:13:45 EST 2011

I recall a case that popped up on the evening news about 15-20 years
ago, where a single-mother baker, with an impeccable record as employee,
was obliged to take an integrity test by her employer, a large Canadian
grocery chain, and was fired because she was too honest and admitted to
some of the very minor youthful folly discussed in this thread. Not
sure what happened at the end, but the employer was chastened for their
rather reckless use of integrity tests.

Sometimes I think we confuse the validity and/or utility of some kinds
of tests with the thoughtfulness with which employers may use them, or
the manner in which candidates may prepare for them, or be coached to
prepare for them. Even with equal validity, some sorts of tools may be
a little more "bullet-proof" than others, or require more careful
handling, or more comprehensive messaging around them.

Mark Hammer

>>> "Patrick McCoy" <Patrick.McCoy at psc-cfp.gc.ca> 2011/11/22 9:43 AM


Agree with you René. The honest person could be disadvantaged for
responding honestly.

Unless of course, the developer didn't assume that higher scores are
better. For example, they could select those who scored high but not
too high on tests of integrity or other constructs like that. But in
the federal public service it would probably be necessary to be
transparent and tell candidates that top scores are not necessarily
preferred. Right? Hey and then there is the potential issue of cross
cultural differences in modesty....

Pat McCoy

>>> "Shekerjian, Rene" <Rene.Shekerjian at cs.state.ny.us> 2011/11/22

AM >>>
The following excerpt from Mike's post seems to back up the blogger's
post that was recently shared here.

"A graduate student told me how an integrity test was used to screen
applicants at a jewelry store where she worked. The store staff
the integrity test rejecting applicants who the staff had already
identified as acceptable for employment. To undermine the testing
process, the store staff coached the applicants prior to the taking of
the integrity test by telling them to answer consistent with this:
have never stolen anything. None of your friends or family members
ever stolen anything. You believe that stealing anything, no matter
small, is very bad behavior. You believe that if someone steals
at work, no matter how small, the person should be fired and
prosecuted.' No one who received this coaching ever failed the

>From my naïve perspective I can only think, if the above is true,

a truly honest person would be doomed by such testing. For example, I
was brought up to be honest to a fault. It was considered immoral in
family to deviate at all from the truth. I would be compelled to
from the above advice, and here is why.

When I was four years old I stole some gum from the drug store.
I believe that if your family is starving it may be okay to steal some
food. Maybe not, but not absolutely not.
If someone stole 3 paper clips at work, I would let it slide.
I had a friend in grade school who walked out of a store once (to my
knowledge) without paying for some merchandise.

Of course I recognize that the above excerpt may simply be another
of misinformation. But if it is not, it raises some concerns.


René Shekerjian | Testing Services Division | NYS Department of Civil

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael McDaniel (WSF) [mailto:McDaniel at WorkSkillsFirst.com]
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2011 6:44 PM
To: Dennis Doverspike
Cc: ipac-list at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Mistakes in selection

Dennis said that I had some faking stories. I found the link for some
sent to TIP in 2000

Best wishes,

Mike McDaniel

On Sun, Aug 7, 2011 at 10:31 AM, Dennis Doverspike <
dennisdoverspike at gmail.com> wrote:

> And speaking of hiring mistakes. Of course the public relations

problem for

> the public sector is not only why were these individuals hired, but


> cant

> we get rid of them.


> The whole article is at:






> First few lines:


> The MBTA has been forced to rehire seven drivers and other key


> after they were fired for offenses ranging from dozing at the wheel

due to

> drug use, child rape, and assaulting and making bizarre threats of


> against co-workers - after bureaucratic arbitrators overturned their

> dismissals on technicalities, a Herald review has found.


> If you are in the public sector, how do you explain this type of

result at

> a

> time when the public sector is under attack.


> Dennis Doverspike


> On Sat, Aug 6, 2011 at 5:21 PM, Mark Hammer

<Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca

> >wrote:


> > I was responding to a thread on another site, and it occurred to


> > that I've never seen any research on "mistakes" in selection that

> > examines such mistakes as subject matter. We discuss tests and

> > other tools here under the presumption that mistakes in selection

> > are more likely when suitable validated tools are not used or used

> > properly, but I don't think we look at those mistakes themselves


> > closely.

> > And by "mistake", I don't mean someone who is simply not as strong

> > a performer as you'd hope for, but someone that makes you regret


> > hiring a different person. What sorts of clusters are there?


> > nutbar/trouble? all hat no cattle? s**t disturber? not a team


> > not really interested in THIS job?) Does category of hiring


> > made show any systematic relationship to kinds of tests/tools


> > or *not* used? What role do interviews play in generating or

> > catching mistakes? What role do referrals play? (a good friend

> > received a strong reference for someone from a trusted source in a

> > similar high-powered job to his, and the referral turned out to be


> > nightmare)

> > How do managers come to the realization that they've made a hiring

> > mistake? What How long does it take them to decide that, what

> > tips them off, and how do they respond?

> >

> > Now, as fascinating as all that might be, and as excited as I am

> > thinking about it, I'll be the first to admit that there are some

> > serious confounds to untangle. Performance is easily confounded

> > with disengagement, and disengagement can be precipitated by

> > actions of the very manager who decides that hire was a mistake.

> > There are also mistakes that are out of the manager's control for


> > most part. So a manager might be told "You must select from this

> > recruitment pool", and find the validly-assessed people in the pool


> > a poor fit for the particular role and position they have to offer.

I know

> > my wife's micro-agency has but 46 or so positions, including the


> > and receptionist, so folks interested in upward mobility tend not


> > stick around very long. Obviously few policies would permit the


> > manager to ask point blank "Are you REALLY serious about sticking

> > around, or are you basically passing through?"

> >

> > But, failing all those sticky issues, I think there is something

> > to this. Has somebody already started looking at it?

> >

> > Finally, I have to once again thank Ilene Gast for introducing me

> > to the phrase "30 year mistake" some time back (I believe it was


> > 2000 in New Orleans). We've all seen them. I want to know how


> > got there, and how we recognize them.

> >

> > Mark Hammer

> > Ottawa

> >


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