25 September 2023

NORTHERN IRELAND: Recruits cheating in online tests

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Northern Ireland’s Public Service is to introduce more stringent requirements for its recruitment applications after allegations of widespread cheating in online tests.

The move came after an anonymous whistleblower claimed that cheating was currently rife in the tests for Public Service jobs with salaries of up to £40,000 (A$73,300).

To apply for the jobs, candidates must complete three strictly timed psychometric tests, which are meant to assess competency in team building, financial decision-making and staff motivation.

“It is an intensive set of tests allowing 40 minutes for 25 decisions to be made,” the whistleblower said.

“That is of course unless you are able to beat the system — and that is what is happening.”

The whistleblower said that both internal and external candidates had asked others to apply for the jobs and print out the questions during the test.

The questions were then allegedly passed to the cheating candidate, who could take as much time as they liked to consider them and confer with others before starting their own timed test.

“Worse, where a person genuinely applying is perhaps weak on the financial side, they can get another person who has the necessary skills to do the test for them,” the whistleblower said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said the Northern Ireland Civil Service Board was taking the concerns seriously and had asked for “checks and analysis to be carried out to see if there has been any abuse of the process”.

“No evidence to substantiate claims of systematic abuse has been identified,” the spokesperson said.

“To reassure candidates of the robustness of the process, all applicants progressing to the next stage will complete a further validation test in an assessment centre.”

Belfast, 10 June 2019

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