A simple search on Google "How to manipulate psychometric assessments?" throws upwards of 35 lakh results. This explains the gravity of the situation and raises a very valid question on the accuracy of psychometric assessments. Employers don't want to take big risks with recruitment decisions and special leadership hiring. Getting it wrong and recruiting someone not suitable for the job or the culture of the organization is expensive in terms of both time, cost, and lost opportunity for the business.
So, the question remains, can a psychometric assessment be manipulated? The answer is yes, but different assessments can be manipulated to different degrees
Challenges with traditional assessments
If we look at the predictors of job performance, there are three factors in the play - Cognitive ability, personality traits, and Acquired skills.
Let's start with cognitive ability. Cognitive ability is the best predictor of the job performance of any hiring factor, and pre-employment tests have always been the best way to measure cognitive abilities. Cognitive ability tests are typically objective tests with a right or wrong answer. The guidelines and tips and tricks available online help the candidates to fake or manipulate the cognitive abilities tests.
In a personality test, a candidate can try to fake or manipulate one's answers as there are no right or wrong answers and a particular pattern of answers can lead to desired scores and an inherent portrayal of strengths. The manipulation could be in terms of choosing socially desirable responses, extreme responses or choosing the neutral or the central tendency. For example, it is easy for any candidate to figure out the set of competencies that the employer looks for by looking at the Job Description and sometimes it's made easily available by the unsuspecting recruiter who is running behind candidates to fill the vacancies.
Or take, for instance, a sales role where Empathy, Networking, Communication skills and Resilience are some competencies that anyone could figure out. By intelligently guessing it, the candidate can somehow try to adjust their responses in a way that matches the expected competencies.
The result is a wrong portrayal of personality that the candidate isn't and organizations sometimes taking wrong hiring decisions.
Lastly, there are acquired skills. Since the skills can be acquired, assessments can't offer a long-term prediction but can surely offer a baseline level of knowledge in a particular area or improvement after an intervention if you had done the baseline.
The Solution is Game-Based Assessments
Organizations across industries are taking a game-based approach to assessment for informed decision making. Game-based assessments are psychometric assessments intentionally built as games. Game-based assessments offer an innovative approach to hiring by eliminating the risk of manipulation of responses.
1. Due to their fast-paced and immersive nature, game-based assessments reveal a candidate's natural behavior and responses in a way that traditional testing methods cannot. Unlike traditional assessments, game-based assessments are progressive - they adapt as the candidate engages with it. Furthermore, framing the assessment as a 'game' rather than a 'test' reduces anxiety, making the hiring process more inclusive and accurate for candidates who get nervous during formal testing.
2. Game-based assessments make it difficult for a candidate to fake the responses since the candidate is never asked directly for a response. Because of the gaming elements, the candidates get immersed in the game without realizing the competencies getting measured and brings out their natural responses to situations. And, since they don't know what and when they are getting measured in a game, it's difficult for them to manipulate it.
3. Game-based assessments test a candidate's abilities to solve new problems and to think logically, as well as their level of motivational drive to succeed. Psychological research on the key determinants of employability, job performance and career progression indicates that these qualities are absolutely critical in the modern workplace.
4. Games allow for more data points to be collected than a traditional multiple-choice assessment. Combining this with machine learning techniques provides increased predictive validity and, therefore, a more accurate picture of how a candidate will perform in the job. For example, Game-based assessment like Gammezo measures a single response to multiple traits and every trait is measured at least 5 times, giving an accurate assessment of a trait.
5. Game-based assessments also minimize bias from a candidate perspective: Games do not assume that the test-taker is aware of one's personality and the design of games is inherently engaging, typically resulting in improved focus by the candidate on the assessment.
6. The immersive nature of the game tasks tends to reduce stress resulting from so-called stereotype threat (i.e. negative stereotypes about e.g. cultural and/or gender differences raise inhibiting doubts and high-pressure anxieties in a test-taker's mind). Furthermore, games may minimize socially desirable responses, by eliciting more authentic behavior.
7. Game-based assessments like Gammezo use multiple scales like Likert, Ipsative, decision tree, and rank-order for gathering responses. This ensures that responses are mapped to multiple traits and can't be manipulated.
Considering all the facts above, game-based assessments make it almost impossible to manipulate or fake one's responses. Thus, game-based assessments offer a powerful tool for recruiters to objectively find the fitment for the position while ensuring that the assessment cannot be manipulated or faked.