Should Applicants be Allowed to Complete Online Selection Tests at Home?


This question has been a common one from members using MSEC’s Employee Testing and Assessment (ETA) services. MSEC’s ETA department offers many different types of selection tests for applicants, including personality testing, skills testing, cognitive ability testing, and attitude (integrity) testing, to name a few. All of our tests are offered as online assessments. Thus, members commonly ask whether the tests need to be proctored onsite or if applicants can complete these at home.

It is estimated that more than 65 percent of employers that use testing in selection do so in an unproctored setting, allowing the candidates to complete the test(s) at home. Recent research suggests that unproctored internet testing may be comparable to proctored testing when it comes to predictive validity (i.e., the ability of the test to predict successful job performance). However, this may vary according to the type of test used. For example, personality and attitude assessment are less susceptible to common concerns such as applicant cheating whereas cognitive ability tests and skills tests may require additional considerations.

Research also suggests that providing instructions to deter cheating such as informing the applicants that cheating can be detected, mentioning penalties for such violations, and appealing to the candidates’ sense of right and wrong can be powerful ways of deterring cheating. Moreover, candidates should be encouraged to complete the test in an environment without risk of distractions and disruptions to minimize the impact of situational factors. 

Unproctored internet testing can be a valid, cost-effective, and efficient way to screen applicants, but careful consideration needs to be paid to the type of the test being used as well as the pre-test instructions provided. Contact MSEC’s ETA department at for more information about testing.