Do applicants fake? An examination of the frequency of applicant faking behavior

Richard L. Griffith (Department of Psychology, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida, USA)
Tom Chmielowski (BNSF Railway, Fort Worth, Texas, USA)
Yukiko Yoshita (Department of Psychology, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida, USA)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 17 April 2007



The purpose of this article is to empirically test whether applicants fake their responses to personality based employment inventories.


This study utilized a within subjects design to asses whether applicants elevated their scores in an applicant conditions. Subjects who applied for a job were later contacted and asked to complete the same personality measure under an honest instructional set. The within subjects design allowed the researcher to examine faking behavior at the individual level of analysis rather than draw inferences between applicant and incumbent groups.


Results suggest that a significant number of applicants do fake personality based selection measures. Depending on the confidence interval used between 30 and 50 percent of applicants elevated their scores when applying for a job. The results also show that applicant faking behavior resulted in significant rank ordering changes that impacted hiring decisions.

Research limitations/implications

One limitation of the study is the exclusion of a job performance criterion measure. Without this measure definitive statements regarding the decay in the criterion validity of the measure cannot be made. While the study demonstrated rank ordering changes, decrements in criterion validity cannot be demonstrated without measuring job performance.

Practical implications

The practical implications of the paper are that personality measures should not be used alone. Rather they should be included in a test battery of measures that are less susceptible to faking behavior. In addition, applied researchers must continue research efforts to address the faking issue.


Empirical research has supported the notion that respondents can fake when instructed, however, other research has suggested that applicants do not fake in applied settings. This study is the first to provide substantial evidence that faking does occur in applicant settings and that is disrupts rank ordering of applicants.



Griffith, R., Chmielowski, T. and Yoshita, Y. (2007), "Do applicants fake? An examination of the frequency of applicant faking behavior", Personnel Review, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 341-355.

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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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