A Study on Applicant Perceptions of Selection Procedures
FrontLine National Case Study
Back to Newsletter
As many of us know, keeping employment selection exams from being compromised takes effort. In May of 2011, a large City in Texas conducted an entry level testing session that, unfortunately, was later thought to be compromised.
For the selection process, candidates first participated in a written exam, which was followed by an oral interview. Approximately 2,300 firefighter applicants completed the 15 minute oral interview with the City. Following the interview process, an anonymous letter was sent to the fire chief. The letter had copies of questions and scoring grids that were part of the oral interview process. The notification produced enough evidence that the City has chosen to re-administer the oral interview to all of the 2,300 applicants. One can only imagine the cost and time investment associated with such an effort to retest this population.
In articles regarding this situation it has been mentioned that there were 58 evaluators/staff members with an additional 48 volunteers who participated in the oral interview testing process. With this number of people touching the process, risks in tests being compromised can certainly increase. This is a commonly known problem with large scale interview processes, where candidates are exposed to a very limited number of questions over many days of testing.
Being a test development and consulting company to nearly 1400 public safety departments nationally, we take test security very seriously. Below we have bulleted some steps any department can take to limit their testing risks when it comes to any testing process.
Maintain an uninterrupted chain of responsibility -
Have a designated person/owner responsible for logs, records, testing security sign in/outs and proper locked storage.
Keep all materials in a secure area or in eyesight of the responsible and defined testing material owner -
Clearly define the responsibilities for the testing owner.
Protect testing material from computer based theft -
Ensure all materials on computers are secured from unauthorized users. Ensure computers are on a secured network.
Obtain applicant compliance, confidentiality and copyright signatures from applicants when appropriate -
Candidates also have an obligation to understand the impact of testing fraud or cheating.
Maintain security during testing -
Number booklets, monitor all sessions, collect and destroy scratch paper, limit amount of proctors or support staff to reduce risk if possible.
Monitor all candidates -
Monitor candidates closely while they are testing, do not allow use of cell phones or other electronic devices. Ensure that each candidate has a fair and professional environment for testing.
Protect materials -
By notifying organizations, educational institutions, unions, etc. that reproductions can be considered theft and or copyright violation.
Define a security process -
Internally develop a security process for all staff members to read and sign.
Additionally, have audits and reviews of the testing process to ensure no risk factors are present.
Establish training -
Ensure that a complete proctoring and administration training guide is developed for internal and external staff that will be involved in the testing process.
Consider outsourced testing -
By having the testing processes outsourced, you can experience a testing company that has the necessary security and systems measures in place for all volumes of applicants. NTN (National Testing Network) is a division of Ergometrics that performs outsourced public safety testing.
Further, the design of the process needs to be considered in light of the number of candidates and the propensity to have security issues. The skills measured during a large scale interview process can be measured during the written entry level testing, such as with FireTEAM, or limited to a final level interview where only a smaller number of candidates participate. Process and test design are critical to the success and integrity of your entire selection process.