[IPAC-List] applicants misrepresenting their experience

C Meyers cymeyers at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 13 19:39:39 EDT 2014

Good hearing from Terry. And sorry for this late reply. However, I have always avoided "bogus" distractors for a few reasons:

1) especially in the public sector, "trick" questions are not just a potential headache under review, but can be a "goodwill" issue.  Even in private sector - there are better ways of creating distractors.

2) your made-up distractor can become a nightmare if it becomes a reasonable choice.  For example, I googled "McKinney" and found "MacKinney" mainframe software systems.  So if an applicant sees McKinney but assumes the item meant MacKinney (or just wasn't even sure of the spelling), well...

3) if it's a test for a union classification - you do not want bogus distractors. There are enough issues in testing with unions without complicating things by having "trick" items.

Carol Meyers

 From: Terry McKinney via IPAC-List <ipac-list at ipacweb.org>
To: ipac-list at ipacweb.org 
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2014 1:19 PM
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] applicants misrepresenting their experience

Keith - Thanks for the nod.  List - I am a strong supporter of "bogus items" when using self reports.  We can't stop folks from being lairs, but we make it harder.

Terry McKinney

RASTMcKinney at aol.com

-----Original Message-----
From: keith.poole <keith.poole at phoenix.gov>
To: ipac-list <ipac-list at ipacweb.org>
Sent: Fri, Sep 12, 2014 8:46 am
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] applicants misrepresenting their experience

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 

 "Natasha K. Riley"
<Natasha.Riley at omes.ok.gov> 
 "ipac-list at ipacweb.org"
<ipac-list at ipacweb.org>,  
 09/11/2014 07:20 AM 
applicants misrepresenting their experience 
Sent by:    
<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
State of Oklahoma 
Human Capital Management 
Office of Management and Enterprise
natasha.riley at omes.ok.gov   
IPAC-List at ipacweb.org

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