Do Honesty Tests Discriminate?
Newsletter volume 1 number 2
One of our clients noticed a growing discrepancy around the value of a paper and pencil honesty test which had been used for 10 years.
Asian candidates were increasing in number in the local workforce, and seemingly outstanding Asian candidates were failing the honesty test. The following question was among those consistently being answered "wrong":
When you come home from high school, do you:
(a) Watch TV
(b) Play outside with friends
(c) Do homework
What answer do you think the testing company considered wrong? (See answer at end of article.)
A study of the test revealed many questions which were culturally biased. These included questions about motivation, self-expression, and success which were clearly biased toward the "American way."
Of course, the ramifications of such a screening instrument are the loss of outstanding candidates and the filtering of organization-enriching diversity. We recommend that organizations take a look at the ineffective filters they may be using against an increasingly diverse workforce.
Answer: (c) Do homework. The assumption here is that a high school student would not do homework immediately after coming home. This assumption proves incorrect with regard to many Asians.