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Read time7 mins

Integrity Testing and Screening for Toxic Behaviour

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Integrity testing accurately predicts toxic workplace behaviours

Integrity testing to screen out bad behaviours

Integrity testing has been shown to be a very accurate predictor of toxic behaviour in the workplace.

Based on a large scale research study SACS has created a normed Counterproductive Work Behaviours test which can assess the risk of a candidate undertaking negative behaviours towards colleagues, supervisors and other people within their work environment. Red flags picked up through the screening process includes bullying, intentional impoliteness, ignoring or snubbing people, or not committing to assist them.

Why hire a toxic employee if you can avoid it with a simple screening measure.

Integrity testing accurately predicts toxic workplace behaviours

Watch the video to understand how organisations can use integrity testing to assess a person's tendency towards counterproductive work behaviours, such as stealing, lying and bullying.

Watch the next video in this series here:

Part 5 – Does Personality Influence Toxic Behaviour?

And watch the previous video here:

Part 3 – Does Intelligence Influence Toxic Behaviour?

And if you know of anyone who would benefit from this video, please share it with them.

Video Transcript

Hi, Andrew from SACS and welcome to video number four in our 11 video series about toxic behaviours at work.

In this one, we’ll be talking about a thing called integrity testing.

And integrity testing is not something that’s particularly well known here in Australia or New Zealand, but it’s something that’s used very heavily in the United States of America, and it’s shown to be a very accurate predictor of toxic behaviours.

What is integrity testing?

The idea of integrity testing is that you ask people questions about negative behaviours.

So, this is very strange for people because when you ask people questions about things like, have they stolen stuff from work, or have they been in disputes with other employees, or have they been involved in breaking rules in your organisation? You kind of expect them to lie, but in fact, they have a validity of 0.45.

What that means in English is that when a person answers an integrity test in a negative fashion, they are much more likely to go on and do a bad job when they’re actually hired and vice versa.

When a person answers an integrity test in a favourable kind of way, they tend to go on and not do bad stuff at work.

So, to get questions in an overt integrity test, and the reason that they’re called overt integrity test is because they ask very blunt questions.

Have you stolen stuff from work? Have you ever been in a dispute with a former leader? Even have you taken drugs at work, those kinds of things.

Now, you would expect that people would fake like crazy, but they don’t seem to fake anywhere near as much as you would expect, or there’s no way you would end up with this correlation between performance in integrity tests and performance at work, and the correlation is quite a strong one.

How do integrity tests work?

So, how does this work? Well, the answer is that when people are sitting in front of a screen, it just doesn’t dawn on everybody to lie, and certainly in projects that we’ve been involved in in SACS, we use integrity testing all the time.

Although, we kind of call it counterproductive work behaviour testing. I mean, to me, integrity sounds a little bit like measuring someone’s soul, when really what you’re doing is you’re asking them about negative behaviour.

So, we call ’em counterproductive work behaviour tests, but they’re really 10 areas that we measure at our instrument at our integrity test, if you want to call it that, lateness, not attending work when you’re not too sick to do so, so in effect, faking a sickie, inability to get on with other people, to being distracted from core work tasks, incivility, being intentionally disrespectful or impolite to other people, theft, ignoring OHS policies and practises, being openly critical of your employer, ignoring broader work policies or practise.

And what we mean by that is simply ignoring rules that don’t have to do with organisational OHS stuff, and then incivility, ignoring or snubbing other employees.

Early on in this video sequence, in fact, video number one, I talked about the fact that bad behaviours, toxic behaviours at work come in two flavours, crimes against the person and crimes against the organisation.

You’ll see that this list of counterproductive behaviours here has both (refer to video).

So, being distracted or theft of organisation properties. That’s clearly to do with the organisation, whereas incivility or ignoring or snubbing other people is directed at individuals. Integrity tests are worth doing.

Attitudes towards diversity

What’s also worth doing is a thing called attitudes towards diversity assessment, which is a kind of a specialised version of an integrity test.

So, attitudes towards diversity assessment asks often questions about minority groups or about gender divide.

So, for instance, our instrument measures things like gender, ethnicity, age, and disability attitudes. I wouldn’t want to report to a female manager.

Clearly, if people say yes to enough of those kinds of questions, you’re going to expect that they are somewhat sexist.

When problems occur, it’s generally ethnic employees who cause them, and that’s, of course, a measure of ethnicity.

Working with elderly people makes me feel uncomfortable, and I do not enjoy working with people with disability. So, gender, ethnicity, age, and disability attitudes, and so we normed this instrument, the attitudes towards diversity assessment, and we know that negative attitudes tend to make people more likely to do bad stuff.

So, if you are strongly racist, then it’s much more likely you are going to act in a negative fashion towards people who are ethnically diverse, than if you are not that way.

Now, one of the other things that we know is that when a person tends to be racist, it’s also much more likely that they will be sexist or that they will be disinclined to people who are elderly or with disability or something like that.

So, there is a tendency for these characteristics to clump together, but it’s not always the case. At an individual level, you can be racist, but nothing else let’s say, but most commonly people will have these characteristics shared.

Commercial benefits to integrity testing

I guess the key message is that integrity testing is worth doing, and it’s a very easy and brief method of assessing people before you join them.

In places like the United States of America, for instance, if you go to work for big retail stores many of them won’t let you on the floor without completing an integrity test because you end up with way less bad behaviours.

But in addition to that, what you also end up with is much less theft from the workplace.

So, there’s a commercial payoff to running the integrity testing, an immediate one, because you get less, what they call in retail, shrinkage.

People are not walking out the door with stock, and what that means is that the profit and the sales of the shop are stronger.

The next video will be talking about personality and toxic behaviour.

And so, we’ll be looking at the very famous component of personality, a guy called Heraclitus, an ancient Greek, going back thousands of years ago, said, character is destiny and personality, in my opinion, is character. So, does personality cause people to act more toxically? The answer is yes.

Join us in the next video to find out how.

Watch the next video in this series to find out more about dealing with toxic employees:

Part 5 – Does Personality Influence Toxic Behaviour?

And watch the previous video here:

Part 3 – Does Intelligence Influence Toxic Behaviour?

And if you’d like some help screening future hires for toxic behaviour, contact us about our Psychometric Assessment Tools.

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