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The Power of Integrity: Understanding Integrity Tests

What Is An Integrity Test?

Integrity tests are personality-based tests that are designed to predict workplace theft, reliability, and counterproductive work behavior. These tests typically involve questionnaires that assess an individual’s behavior, attitudes, and values in regards to workplace conduct. Employers use integrity tests as a screening tool to minimize their risk of hiring an individual who is likely to engage in misconduct or other inappropriate behavior.

The Basics of Integrity Testing

Integrity tests were first developed in the 1970s as a response to a perceived rise in employee theft and other forms of counterproductive behavior. Since then, their use has become increasingly common in the employment screening process. There are two primary types of integrity tests: overt and covert.

Overt Integrity Tests

Overt integrity tests are the most common. They are administered openly to job candidates and employees. These tests are designed to measure honesty, reliability, and conscientiousness. They can also be used to determine the likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse and the willingness to adhere to company policies.

Overt tests usually involve multiple-choice or true/false questions that are answered on paper or electronically. Candidates are provided with explicit instructions on how to complete the test, and employers score the results to determine if the candidate meets their hiring standards. Overt tests are easy to administer, relatively inexpensive, and provide reliable results.

Covert Integrity Tests

Covert integrity tests are usually administered without the participant’s knowledge. They typically involve setting up scenarios that test an individual’s honesty and willingness to comply with company policies. Covert tests can be expensive to administer, and there is potential for legal problems if not conducted properly.

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Covert tests are often used in industries where security risks are high, such as law enforcement and government positions. They are also employed in roles where trust is paramount, such as financial management positions.

Integrity Test Questions and Scores

The questions found in an integrity test are generally designed to assess values such as honesty, reliability, and responsibility. These questions can be of several types and forms, such as hypothetical situations, behavioral statements, and value judgments. One example of a behavioral statement might be, “I have never betrayed a friend or colleague.” A hypothetical question might ask, “What would you do if a high-level executive asked you to manipulate company records?”

Scores in an integrity test depend on the type of test being administered. In a multiple-choice test, a score might be calculated based on the number of responses chosen that are consistent with an honest, responsible, and reliable personality. In a hypothetical scenario test, a candidate might be awarded points for choosing the most ethical response to various scenarios. In any case, employers typically have a benchmark score they use in determining who is a suitable candidate.

Benefits of Integrity Testing

The benefits of integrity testing are numerous. Employers who implement an integrity test can enjoy reduced employee turnover, increased productivity, and better employee performance. These tests can be used to identify high-risk employees who may engage in theft or drug and alcohol abuse, and, therefore, manage potential risks effectively.

Integrity tests can also provide valuable insight into individuals’ values and attitudes. An employer can use this information to determine whether the person is a good fit for the company culture. In some cases, personality conflict and values misalignment can lead to a less productive work environment, so employers want to avoid hiring individuals who are not a good fit for their culture.

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Integrity tests can also reduce the instances of theft and employee turnover. When a company’s employees are more honest, reliable, and conscientious, the chances of theft and employee turnover are diminished, leading to a more stable and productive workplace.

Criticisms of Integrity Testing

Integrity tests are not immune to criticisms. One objection is that they create an ethical dilemma if the questions asked invade an individual’s privacy. Some questions are personal, and when an individual takes the test, they may feel uncomfortable answering some of the questions.

Integrity tests can also give false positives or false negatives. For example, someone who has never stolen before may score low on an integrity test if they feel uncomfortable answering personal questions. Alternatively, someone who has a history of stealing may score high on a test if they have been taught how to beat the system.

Integrity tests may also be biased against certain groups such as women, those with a lower socioeconomic status, or members of certain ethnic or racial groups. Questions that target religious, cultural, or social groups, or certain psychological differences could also be considered discriminatory.

Top Winning Strategies for an Integrity Test

If you are required to take an integrity test as part of your job application process, there are a few strategies you might find helpful. Firstly, take the test seriously. Don't skip any questions and answer them honestly. Avoid trying to answer in ways that you think the employer wants you to answer. Be truthful in your responses.

Secondly, read the instructions carefully. Take notes, ask for clarification if you need it, and take your time to make sure you understand everything. Accuracy is more valuable than quickness.

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Thirdly, recognize that integrity tests are not brain teasers. They are not designed to be challenging. If the questions or situations are complex or confusing, make sure you understand them fully before answering. Don't try to read into the questions, take them at face value.


In conclusion, integrity tests assess an individual's honesty, reliability, and conscientiousness, including their attitudes and values towards workplace conduct. Employers use these tests as a method to screen candidates for potential risks of engagement in fraudulent or other inappropriate behaviors. Integrity tests come in two primary types, covert and overt. While these tests have several benefits, such as increased productivity and reduced employee turnover, they are subject to criticism, such as invasion of privacy and potential bias. Integriry tests are not difficult and require honest answers to score well.

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