The Science & Validity of Work Ethic

Finding reliable and dedicated entry-level employees can be challenging. These positions have notoriously high turnover rates, turning the hiring process into a never-ending endeavor for employers. What hiring managers truly seek are individuals with a strong work ethic – people who can consistently contribute to the organization’s success. This is where Prevue’s Work Ethic Assessment comes into play. This piece will focus on explaining the scientific foundation, how it tackles the issue of social desirability, and its distinction from our Job-Fit Assessment. Additionally, we’ll explore the concept of social validity and its role in ensuring the assessment’s reliability.

What is the Work Ethic Assessment?

Prevue’s Work Ethic Assessment is a powerful screening tool designed for entry-level positions. It provides a quick, data-informed candidate profile that can mitigate the risks associated with high-turnover jobs; particularly those involving finance, security, sensitive data, or personal safety.

The assessment is comprised of data from two specific traits, proven by research to be relevant for job success across many entry-level positions. Each assessment question is a triad and concerns one of the two assessed traits. What makes this approach particularly unique, is that all three options per question possess similar social desirability scores, avoiding issues with candidate faking and impression management.

Social Desirability in Work Ethic

A key aspect of the Work Ethic Assessment is its ability to mitigate the chances of applicants skewing their answers based on expectations – this is what we call “social desirability”. Social desirability refers to the candidate’s tendency to respond to assessment items in a manner that they believe will be more appealing to potential employers. When developing the Work Ethic assessment, social desirability ratings were collected from a pool of 60 participants. This allowed for the grouping of assessment items by social desirability score, an important piece when ensuring validity.

Work Ethic vs Job Fit

It’s important to distinguish the Work Ethic Assessment from Prevue’s Job-Fit Assessment. While both serve as tools for assessing candidates, they cater to different needs and priorities on the employer’s end.

Prevue’s Job-Fit has its own dedicated social desirability scale, along with specific social desirability assessment questions aimed at evaluating a candidate’s impression management. The scale exists as a validation point to prove whether the candidate is honest during the assessment.

In comparison, Work Ethic focuses on traits that many employers want their candidates to score high on and does not need customized benchmarks. Its unique design significantly reduces the impact of social desirability by grouping similarly scored items and forcing candidates into a difficult choice. The two assessments ultimately aim to provide employers with accurate insights, they engage in different methods to achieve this result.

Validity in Prevue’s Work Ethic Assessment

The Work Ethic Assessment is a forced-choice assessment, that specifically uses of the “MOLE” (most like me/least like me) measurement. Meaning candidates must select one answer they believe is most like how they would behave in a work environment and another that is least similar. Each assessment question, or triad, consists of three items: one target item and two distractors. All of which have similar social desirability ratings.

By having items with similar social desirability scores in each question triad, the Work Ethic Assessment prevents candidates from easily providing socially desirable answers. This design choice promotes honesty and authenticity, critical factors when evaluating a candidate’s true work ethic. Candidates may find themselves torn when selecting answers, but this very struggle is what enables Work Ethic to achieve a high level of accuracy and insights into their work ethics.

This article was written in collaboration with Baila Glogauer, M.S., I/O Psychologist.