Griffiith - A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Applicant Deception and the Risk to the Employer


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A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Applicant Deception and the Risk to the Employer

Dr. Richard L. Griffith

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  • I am an old guy now, but I used to love to go on first dates. I remember going out to get a fresh haircut, and putting on aftershave. I would spend the afternoon washing and waxing my car, polishing up the chrome. Leaving the house early to get flowers and then circling the block for 10 minutes so I would show up on time. I don’t know what happened on the female side of the equation. It generally took a lot longer, but brother it was worth it. My heart would just pound at the first sight of her.
  • Then at some point, things start to hit a normal routine and you just don’t feel like shaving for a few days, and a few days turn into a week and the bandito look. On the flip side, she tells you she really never really liked bowling, and that your friend Bob really creeps her out. We never intended to be deceptive, we really were trying hard to showed how into each other we were. But we settle into who we are eventually, and sometimes those little white lies aren’t so bad. If the “new” you isn’t to shocking the couple can get over it and build long relationships built on genuineness. There might be some flaws, but you have a good thing going. Sure everyone was trying a little harder than usual to impress during the first date, but the deception was slight and harmless, and energizing for both parties. No harm no foul.
  • Sometimes the consequences are worse. At some point you find out the bulk of the 12 years he spent in the Army was in Leavenworth for armed assault. Or that she is $300,000 in debt to a guy named Jimmy the Stick. Sometimes your date snowed you on those first dates, and you never saw it coming. That kind of deception can either kill a relationship, or worse get you stuck in a terrible relationship with all kind of nasty surprises.
  • Organizations go though a similar dating game. Companies do their best to be attractive to top candidates and often they “oversell” in an effort to land the best people. There is a lot of research on met/unmet expectations and recruiting. The applicant also has a chance to alter their appearance to achieve the goal of landing the job. When we use pre-employment screening tools like personality tests, the interview and the resume, some applicants choose to manage their impressions. Some of those applicants are just polishing up the car (or in this case resume), and some of them are rotten liars. My job is to find those folks before they can make a mess of things.
  • My name is Rich Griffith, and I am a professor at The Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). It is no secret, I am fascinated by the phenomenon of applicant deception. It intrigues me. So I have spent a fair amount of time studying it, and today, I hope I can provide you with some helpful information as you move ahead in your and practice. For the next 50 minutes I will be discussing the dynamic nature of applicant deception and how it impacts our staffing efforts. At the end of that discussion I will leave ten minutes to take your questions. Today my goal is for you to leave with some answers to these 3 questions.
  • What is the impact of applicant deception on company performance, the bottom line, and future employee problems?
  • One of the most common methods for applicants to present their knowledge, skills, and abilities to potential employers is the resume. Resumes typically contain information regarding an applicant’s education, previous employment, job-related experience, and professional certifications and licensure. An entire industry has emerged to support the job seeker’s efforts to improve their resumes. There are thousands of self-help books, web sites, and resume-writing services that help applicants present themselves in a positive light. Although most applicants legitimately try to capture the attention of a potential employer while presenting a factual account of their employment history, many applicants choose to cross the line and intentionally falsify information. Recently, there have been many highly publicized examples of resume fraud involving high-level executives (e.g., Sandra Baldwin, Chair of the U.S. Olympic Committee; Al Dunlap, CEO of Sunbeam; Ronald Zarella, CEO, Bausch & Lomb).
  • As the economy worsened over the two-year period we examined (unemployment grew from 4.4% to 8.5%) these rates of applicant falsification rose 30%. When we surveyed applicants regarding falsification of application materials, 23% of job seekers reported that they had been dishonest on their application materials. However, ninety-five percent of job seekers believed that other applicants falsified their application. Overall, the evidence we have examined in the ARB project suggests that applicant deception is commonplace, with 20-30% of applicants engaging in dishonesty across diverse selection methods (i.e., resume, interview, personality tests). 68 percent – more than two-thirds – of employers in China across all sectors encountered candidates being dishonest about their background or experience in their resumes, a much higher proportion than in the other Asian markets surveyed
  • Compelling evidence convergence of estimates different methodologies different contexts Alternative explanations work in isolation, but do not fit the full set of findings. hold for one piece of evidence, but if true, would lead to results that are at odds with other evidence Anderson et al. (1984) asked applicants to report their experience on a list of tasks that included a subset of bogus tasks. The authors stated that 45% of job applicants reported that they engaged in one or more bogus tasks. Pannone (1984) asked a group of applicants for an electrician position to report their experience on job-related tasks, and found that 35% of respondents self-reported using a non-existent piece of equipment. In a study conducted by Donovan, Dwight, and Schneider (2008), 21% of applicants reported experience with at least three bogus tasks.
  • Levashina and Campion (2007) proposed probably the most comprehensive taxonomy of interview faking behavior that has been offered in the empirical literature. In the process of creating the Interview Faking Behavior (IFB) scale, they determined that interview faking behavior is comprised of four factors (with 11 sub-factors): slight image creation, extensive image creation, image protection, and ingratiation. Slight image creation involves offering exaggerations of one’s true experiences and enhancement of one’s positive attributes. Extensive image creation, on the other hand, involves outright fabrication of information in response to interview questions. Image protection occurs when applicants deliberately avoid discussing their negative job-related traits and experiences. Finally, applicants utilize ingratiation tactics when they behave in a manner designed to enhance their likeability with the hope that the interviewer’s positive impressions of them will be enough to secure the job. Levashina and Campion (2007) found that over 90% of the participants in their studies utilized interview faking behaviors, mostly slight image creation and ingratiation. The rates of engaging in extensive image creation and image protection (those factors that are “semantically closer to lying” (Levashina and Campion, 2007, p. 1651)) were much lower, ranging from 28% to 75%. They further found that the type of interview impacted the “fakability” of the interview. That is, interviews that asked about past behaviors (without follow-up questions) were more resistant to faking attempts than were interviews that asked about hypothetical situations (with follow-up questions).
  • Cognitive ability tests are designed to assess an individual’s mental ability. A job knowledge test, which assesses cognitive ability to some degree, are conducted in organizations for the specific purpose of assessing applicants’ level of knowledge related to the job in question. A job knowledge test might be administered, for example, for the position of electrician.
  • NFL combine example Let’s say you are GM for an NFL team and you are in the market for a running back. You have been doing your due diligence and you come across a player with stats that catch your eye. His college football program has him listed at 6’2’’ 250, 4.3 speed. Man that is a bruising back…ready to get him to sign on the bottom line right?
  • Well we better go to the combine and see what he can really do, so you show up expecting this…
  • But what you get it this guy. Or maybe worse yet this guy. Man he can be a really good guy. If you need three yards for a first down, this dude gets it every time. Dude #2? You need to pick up a heavy blitz? This guy can do it.
  • But they are not this guy, and if you made your plans on this guy, you will have some adjusting to do. If your performance metrics are geared around this guy, you are going to miss the mark. Deception ultimately is a work force planning problem. You make your plans based on a specific set of personnel, and that ain’t what you got. Ultimately that is going to have a negative overall effect on company performance.
  • Impulsivity - $143 billion dollars a year due to Monday morning hangover absences
  • For example, when corporate CEO Bryan Mitchell for MCG Capital Corp. was exposed for resume fraud, stock prices fell 37%.
  • Organizations can get very lazy with their measurement
  • Records that are commonly gathered include criminal history, civil litigation background, credit record, motor vehicle record, education verification, reference checks, and sex offender registry. Publicizing that the company conducts background screening will deter an applicant with a questionable past from applying (Rosen, 2002; Vinik, 2005)
  • For those of you not familiar with IO Psychology, we design systems to help organizations hire, train, and retain high performing employees. We then help companies identify talent in that pool and help them groom the leaders of our economy. For the next 15 minutes I am going to speak to you about our methods of hiring, and what happens when applicants use deception to gain employment.
  • Griffiith - A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Applicant Deception and the Risk to the Employer

    1. 1. A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Applicant Deception and the Risk to the Employer Dr. Richard L. Griffith Director, Applicant Response Behavior Project Senior Consultant, Center for Organizational Effectiveness Florida Institute of Technology
    2. 3. What is the metaphor?
    3. 4. <ul><li>Then at some point you find out the 12 years she spent in the Army was in Leavenworth for armed assault </li></ul>
    4. 7. Overview <ul><li>What percentage of applicants engage in deceptive applicant behavior? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the impact of applicant deception on company performance? </li></ul><ul><li>How can we mitigate applicant dishonesty? </li></ul>
    5. 8. … X X X X
    6. 9. Resume’ Fraud <ul><li>Many highly publicized examples of resume fraud </li></ul><ul><li>Contain manipulations of key facts, dates, and accomplishments. </li></ul><ul><li>Few independent research studies assessing prevalence rates </li></ul>
    7. 10. Resume’ Fraud <ul><li>Griffith & Hurd (2011) studied 2 million resumes submitted March 2007 - 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>14.5% of resumes contained verifiably false information </li></ul><ul><li>14% contained claims that could not be verified as true </li></ul><ul><li>Falsification rose 30% over the 2 year period </li></ul>
    8. 11. Self Reports <ul><li>1. When I am stressed, sometimes I get high. </li></ul><ul><li> A. strongly disagree </li></ul><ul><ul><li>B. disagree </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C. agree </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>D. strongly agree </li></ul></ul>
    9. 12. Applicant Faking <ul><li>Applicant attempts at presenting enhanced self-descriptions to increase % of obtaining employment </li></ul><ul><li>Controversial topic in I/O psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Research suggests applicants can do it, but how many actually fake when applying for jobs? </li></ul>
    10. 13. Prevalence of Faking <ul><li>Trivial influence, moderate or commonplace? </li></ul><ul><li>Hough et al. (1990) and Hogan et al. (2007) suggested few fake </li></ul><ul><li>Our examination has found wide variability in individual faking behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Data suggests that 30% (+ or – 10%) engage in faking </li></ul>
    11. 14. Griffith & Converse (2011) <ul><li>Bogus Items (Anderson, 1984; Donovan et al. 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Within subjects designs (Griffith et al, 2006, 2007; Griffith et al. 2011; Arthur et al. 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>Self Report (Lee, 2010; McDaniel et al. 1997; Donovan et al. 2003; Robie et al. 2007) </li></ul>
    12. 15. Interviews <ul><li>Levashina and Campion (2007) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>slight image creation, extensive image creation, image protection, & ingratiation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>90% utilized interview faking behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>50% engaged in the severe forms </li></ul><ul><li>On average 2.19 are told for each 10 minutes of interview (Weiss and Feldman, 2006) </li></ul>
    13. 16. Knowledge Tests <ul><li>Little empirical research </li></ul><ul><li>Arthur et al. 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Examined the likelihood of applicant cheating on a speeded cognitive ability test </li></ul><ul><li>Unproctored internet testing format </li></ul><ul><li>Roughly 10% of applicants engaged in cheating </li></ul><ul><li>But anecdotes are commonplace…DDI, Facebook </li></ul>
    14. 17. HR Professional’s Perceptions Most applicants are dishonest to some extent 18% Most applicants tell ‘little white lies’ in order to present themselves favorably 47% I expect applicants to portray themselves more positively than they truly are in order to impress me 58% I don’t believe that most applicants tell me the whole truth 42%
    15. 18. Consequences
    16. 19. Reduced Effectiveness? <ul><li>Without a doubt… </li></ul><ul><li>Validity </li></ul><ul><li>Hiring Discrepancies </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced Organizational Performance </li></ul>
    17. 24. Problematic Employees? <ul><li>Predictors of applicant deception </li></ul><ul><li>Low Self Esteem </li></ul><ul><li>External Locus of Control </li></ul><ul><li>Low Integrity </li></ul><ul><li>Impulsivity </li></ul><ul><li>Psychopathy </li></ul><ul><li>Counter Productive Work Behaviors (CWB) </li></ul>
    18. 25. Economic Consequences? <ul><li>High visibility deception and stock losses </li></ul><ul><li>Productivity would improve by more than $22 billion annually if faking were eliminated </li></ul><ul><li>$300 billion in organizational losses annually due to CWBs would be reduced </li></ul><ul><li>Association of Certified Fraud Examiners states occupational fraud costs $600 billion annually </li></ul><ul><li>Workers comps claims </li></ul>
    19. 26. Remedies
    20. 27. Remedies <ul><li>To Test or not to Test? </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct a Job Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid one size fits all solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct due diligence when selecting vendors for assessments. Not all tests are created equal. </li></ul>
    21. 28. Multiple Assessments <ul><li>You should never rely on a single assessment to make a hiring decision </li></ul><ul><li>Whole person approach </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-referencing can improve identification rates for deceptive applicants </li></ul>
    22. 29. Other Remedies <ul><li>Structured Job Related Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Warnings and Honor Codes </li></ul><ul><li>Test Security and alternate forms </li></ul>
    23. 30. Self Report Remedies <ul><li>What not to rely on: </li></ul><ul><li>SD or “Lie Scales” - do not capture faking behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Cannot be considered valid for the inference of faking detection </li></ul><ul><li>Race and gender differences that do not correspond with actual differences in faking </li></ul><ul><li>Legally indefensible </li></ul>
    24. 31. Behavioral Measures / Simulations <ul><li>Stop asking if someone can multi-task, and have them do it! </li></ul><ul><li>Web based assessment makes the incorporation of simulations seamless and cost effective </li></ul><ul><li>We are really interested in typical behavior - personality is just a means to an ends </li></ul>
    25. 32. Background Investigations <ul><li>Gather information regarding candidates from public records, and confirm information the applicant provided </li></ul><ul><li>Provide insight on applicant’s character and past behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Web-based technology makes accessing this information relatively easy </li></ul>
    26. 33. Background Investigations <ul><li>Have each job applicant sign a consent form for a background check </li></ul><ul><ul><li>past employment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>criminal records </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clearly state that false statements or omissions are grounds to terminate </li></ul><ul><li>Conditional offer for satisfactory screening </li></ul>
    27. 34. Setting the right tone <ul><li>The more applicant-friendly the hiring process, the less likely applicants will be to cheat </li></ul><ul><li>Social Contract research </li></ul><ul><li>Application processes handled in a cold and unfriendly manner make it much easier for a candidate to feel fine about breaking the rules </li></ul>
    28. 35. In Review <ul><li>Roughly 30% (+ or – 10%) of applicants engage in deceptive behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Deceptive applicant behavior reduces company performance, costs $, and opens the door to problematic employees </li></ul><ul><li>Companies can mitigate the risk of applicant deception through careful cross validated assessment </li></ul>
    29. 36. Questions? Dr. Richard L. Griffith Director, Applicant Response Behavior Project Florida Institute of Technology 150 W. University Blvd. Melbourne Florida, 32901 (321) 674-8104 [email_address]
    30. 37. ?