What is an Integrity Test?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An integrity test is a test which is administered for the purpose of learning more about someone's honesty and adherence to ethical principles. Such tests are used as pre-employment screenings to help companies identify applicants with high levels of integrity, and they may also be used as followups for people who are already employed to confirm that they are adhering to the company's code of conduct. The law surrounding integrity tests is variable, and they may not be legal in all areas.

A test taker will answer questions about moral and ethical issues during an integrity test.
A test taker will answer questions about moral and ethical issues during an integrity test.

In an integrity test, the test taker is asked a series of questions dealing with moral or ethical issues. This may be done in an interview with a test administrator, or via a computer program or pencil and paper test. The integrity test is designed in such a way that the answers to the questions are supposed to reveal important information about the integrity of the test taker.

Integrity tests can be used as pre-employment screenings.
Integrity tests can be used as pre-employment screenings.

Integrity tests are intended to identify risks. These can include employees who might cheat or steal, people who have difficulty adhering to ethical standards, and those who might pose a threat to the security of a workplace. They are designed to be used in combination with other pre-employment screening tests, such as background checks, references, and an employment interview, to provide a more complete picture of a job applicant.

Some critics have questioned the validity of integrity tests. While testing companies often tout meaningful results, these can be difficult to replicate. A savvy test taker may be able to beat the test by answering questions in a calculating way, and someone who is under stress may fail the test because he or she fails to understand questions or is unclear on the purpose of the test. Problematic framing of questions on an integrity test may also confuse test takers and result in invalid answers. Furthermore, the test does not necessarily predict behavior; someone of high integrity may become frustrated with abusive working conditions, for example, and cheat or steal on the job.

Many nations have laws which are designed to protect job applicants from discrimination. In some countries, an integrity test is legal because it is not believed to infringe on any rights; it will not subject someone to undue discrimination on the basis of gender, race, disability status, or other identities which may be protected. Other nations, however, acting on challenges to the validity of such tests, have ruled that they are not legal at all or that employees should have the right to refuse them without having their applications compromised by the refusal.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Ethics are really black and white? Are you serious?


BrickBack - I know that some companies perform integrity tests when they suspect that the employee may be stealing from the company.

Sometimes a company will hire a mystery shopping company to perform an integrity shop. It may entail going to a specific bar or store at a specific time and targeting an employee.

Usually these shops require the shopper to pay cash to see if the employee pockets the money or to see if the employee offers free alcohol or does not ring up the merchandise.

When a company resorts to this type of test they have narrowed down a potential suspect and they just want to catch the person in the act.

The video tape is usually enough for a person to confess. These shops are the most confidential because the employee can never know that they are being shopped because it would ruin the purpose of the shop.

Usually these shops are offered to seasoned shoppers with high integrity because of the sensitive subject matter.


I think that integrity tests help the employer to get a picture of what the potential employee’s character is all about.

In an interview an employer receives some insight as to an employee’s qualifications and personality but the candidate might know how to perform interviews and may not be the best to perform the job.

Everyone in the beginning always tries to charm the interviewer which is why the employer should offer various screening tools to verify information that the potential employee is offering about himself.

An integrity test is a great idea because it could shed some light as to what the potential dilemma the company may face by hiring that particular employee. Ethics are really black and white. You are either honest or you are not.

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