As Sir Alan Sugar’s latest Apprentice hopefuls enter the dreaded interview round, will they have gone against tradition and told the truth on their CVs or will they have seen last year’s appointment of Lee McQueen as carte blanche to embellish their achievements to a ludicrous degree (or was it a GCSE)?

‘Suralan’ can rely on his trusty band of interviewers and the research information with which they’ve been provided, but the world’s leading assessment company reveals how psychometrics can help every potential employer identify possible problems with an applicant’s personal integrity, reliability and work ethic

The current crop of ‘Britain’s brightest business prospects’ that constitute the remaining Apprentice candidates have yet to face ‘Suralan’s’ version of the Spanish inquisition – but most employers don’t have Sugar’s resources and would shy away from a job applicant with a heavily-embellished CV.

A psychometric assessment developed by Profiles International, the world-leading assessment company, makes it possible for employers to spot the CV-cheats by checking a candidate’s attitude to personal integrity and reliability.

Created in the USA, the Step One Survey, asks job applicants 103 cleverly-constructed, multiple-choice questions* (see sample questions below) developed by psychiatrists to identify candidates with questionable integrity. While no assessment can check the factual accuracy of a CV, the Step One Survey flags up potential ‘danger areas’, helping employers focus their resources on more detailed investigation and questioning of those candidates.

The Step One Survey has two parts: a structured interview and an attitude survey. The secret of its success is the way that the responses are analysed and compared with research data indicating typical responses from people who have already fallen foul of the law.

Recent research suggests that 20% of CVs submitted by candidates have been ‘McQueened’ and contain serious inaccuracies. Of course, if a person is prepared to lie on his CV, he will probably have no compunction in saying no when asked if he did – so 20% could be a very conservative number, and probably doesn’t include the sin of omission!

And in the real world, employing someone who doesn’t have either the qualifications or experience that they claim to have (particularly in senior positions) can be disastrous. After all, a bad appointment costs a lot more than the simple cost of hiring and then firing someone – it involves serious disruption to the business, to management time and lost opportunity.

But companies can take steps to make sure they are hiring the right people. Profiles International, the world’s leading provider of online employee assessments, helps employers in over 100 countries avoid the ‘Apprentice Factor’ with the use of psychometric assessments developed and ‘normed’ to:

  • check that an employee ‘fits’ the job in terms of the core traits they claim to have (the Profile XT)
  • check the employees attitude to their personal integrity, reliability and work ethic (the Step One Survey – currently available in the USA and Canada).

The ‘norming’ process (ie. comparing a respondent with a wider population rather than just feed back their own answers) is a key part of the psychometric element of the assessment and is underpinned by extensive psychological research.

martingoodwillMartin Goodwill, Managing Director of Profiles GB, the UK arm of Profiles International, is hoping to bring the Step One Survey to the Britain in the near future. He explains:

“’McQueening’ your CV is a little like shoplifting. It looks like a victimless crime, but the results for business can be catastrophic. Every day businesses employ managers who can’t manage, salesmen who can’t sell and customer service experts who aggravate customers – but, of course, that’s not what they said on their CVs or in their interviews! And every one of these bad hirings is a massive drain on a company’s resources.

“The cost to UK plc is enormous and it seems incongruous that when the tools are out there to help employers avoid these pitfalls, so many of them are willing to bet their companies on ‘gut feel’ recruitment decisions. In the current economic climate, it’s even more important that companies get the right person for vacant roles EVERY TIME.

“This year’s candidates will, no doubt, be ‘rumbled’ in the interview, as Lee McQueen was last year, so at least Sir Alan Sugar will be in possession of the facts when he appoints his next Apprentice. I wonder if everyone out there now, who is currently recruiting, can say the same thing. Having helped thousands of businesses worldwide to make the right recruitment decisions, Profiles International can safely say the solution is only a phone call away.”

Martin Goodwill at Profiles GB on: 01494 761919
Or Gail Kemp at Profiles GB on: 01494 442990

*sample questions include:
-Have you ever left a job without giving notice? (Never, Once, Sometimes, Often)
-Have you ever made use of the company’s computer to access the Internet for reasons other than business? (Never, Once, Sometimes, Often)
-Taking something from your company with the good intention of paying for it later is not the same as stealing? (Agree/Disagree)