[IPAC-List] applicants misrepresenting their experience

keith.poole at phoenix.gov keith.poole at phoenix.gov
Fri Sep 12 11:45:51 EDT 2014

Some of the things we have done:

1) Avoid overly general questions.  Instead of "How many years of budget 
exp do you possess, " change to something like "Indicate the budget 
responsibilities below for which you have at least 1 year of experience; 
mark all that apply".  Then be sure to list one or two items that almost 
everyone has done even if you don't particularly care about them for 
screening (Monitor overtime; monitor the supplies budget; compile program 
statistics...whatever applies in your world), in addition to the "real" 
items you do care about.  We've found that the former phrasing has too 
many interpretations.  The Secretary that monitors the tiny supplies 
budget for 5 years will mark "5 yrs budget exp" and in their mind, they 
are.  With the latter phrasing, if you provide at least some answers they 
can respond affirmatively to, even if it's not weighted that much in your 
screening, it may help with applicants from feeling like they have to 
inflate their exp....("I can't just say 'No experience'").

2) Use of "attention to detail" questions (aka "bogus questions").  "How 
many years of exp do you possess using Piper Legal Services Software", or 
"Repairing Eagle engines" or "operating a McKinney 2000" (nod to Mr. Terry 
McKinney for that one).  None of these exist.  If the applicant says they 
have experience, we have the option to screen them out, assuming the job 
requires attention to detail...we avoid saying anything like "you lied" or 
"you exaggerated".

3) Using short open-ended answers, in addition to radio-button screening 
questions.  "In 50 words or less, describe how you have used an Access 
database".  You'll get answers from "enter new registrants and print 
weekly reports" to "created a database and built queries and reports to 
track employee certificationd and training requirements."

4) Use screening questions where the applicant has to complete a work 
sample, like put 4 names in alphabetical order, add up several numbers or 
cash transactions, identify the sentence that has improper grammar.  This 
may be approaching an unproctored test, but the # of questions is probably 
not a large enough sample to really call it a test...we still call it a 
skills screening questionnaire.  Yes, applicants can get help or look up 
answers, but in the times we've used it, we usually find a decent 
distribution of 'scores.'   We added approx 15 questions along this line 
to an advanced clerical position recently...I think maybe 60% got all 
correct, but there were some that only got 6-7 correct.  It's one of those 
things, people who don't know, don't know that they don't know.

Keith Poole
Human Resources Supervisor
City of Phoenix HR Department
135 N 2nd Ave
Phoenix, AZ  85003
Phone: (602) 262-7140
Fax: (602) 495-5498
Email:  keith.poole at phoenix.gov

From:   "Natasha K. Riley" <Natasha.Riley at omes.ok.gov>
To:     "ipac-list at ipacweb.org" <ipac-list at ipacweb.org>, 
Date:   09/11/2014 07:20 AM
Subject:        [IPAC-List] applicants misrepresenting their experience
Sent by:        "IPAC-List" <ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org>

IPAC List:
We have begun using experience-based questionnaires to rank candidates for 
clerical and entry level jobs where we had used multiple-choice tests 
before.  The questionnaire is part of each application submitted, and a 
separate application is required for each posted vacancy for which the 
applicant wants to be considered.  For those of you using these types of 
questionnaires, I’m wondering what you do when you see a candidate with 
applications for several vacancies in the same job and the answers they 
give are not consistent from application to application.  So, it appears 
that the applicant is misrepresenting his experience by giving different 
answers to the same questions.  Do you have procedures in place to catch 
this?  What do you do with the applications when you find this?  Do you 
remove the candidate from the lists?  If so, do they have appeal rights?
Thanks in advance for weighing in on this!
Natasha Riley
Director of Assessment and Testing Services
State of Oklahoma
Human Capital Management
Office of Management and Enterprise Services
natasha.riley at omes.ok.gov 
IPAC-List at ipacweb.org

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