Faking Good


FAKING GOOD is simpler term for a behavioral trait known as Social Desirability. This refers to the desire of the person completing the BestWork Experience to create a “good impression”. Certainly all people share in this desire to some extent. The problem appears when that desire to “look good” outweighs the desire to answer the questions in the personality section honestly and frankly.  A person with low scores in Faking Good is confident with whom they are. They are essentially saying, “Here I am…the good parts and the bad parts. You decide if I am right for the job.” They are
aware of their weaknesses and have no problem admitting them.

A high score in Faking Good indicates that the person has not admitted having any weaknesses.  The type of weaknesses in the BestWork Experience are universal. All people have them. They are benign to any job. Failing to acknowledge such harmless issues is a strong indication that the person is likely to have exaggerated or misrepresented themselves in other parts of the personality section, which are more relevant to job performance.

There are many reasons for a person to do this. The obvious and most common reason is that they are afraid that they will not get the job if they answer honestly and frankly. All people experience some level of anxiety with any form of assessment. In fact, a certain level of anxiety is an important component of some types of surveys. Normally, this anxiety does not affect the truth of their answers. Most people share the company’s desire to be certain they are right for the job in question.  When the job market is tight or when there is intense competition for positions, that anxiety will
increase, resulting in a higher percentage of Faking Good scores. Similarly, when a company assesses existing employees, there can be concern over how the information will be used. Much of the reaction depends upon how the company has used such programs in the past or simply their general attitude about management.

NOTE: Faking Good only refers to the Personality Section of the assessment. The cognitive section is not affected in any way.


Possible Performance Implications
The most serious problem with a high score in Faking Good is that if the candidate cannot admit weaknesses, there will be a major problem in coaching and dealing with those weaknesses. It is rare to hire perfect employees. Success is found in hiring employees whose strengths fit the jobs and whose weaknesses are acceptable. It is critical however, for those employees to be willing and able to work to improve. A lack of coachability is an almost impossible barrier to that.

Possible Implications on the Reliability of the Report
A high score in Faking Good also suggests that the candidate may have attempted to present themselves in a favorable manner in other parts of the assessment. From a practical perspective,  this is much harder than it appears. The BestWork Experience items offer choices of answers, but the relative merit of the answers are rarely obvious. For example, a typical item is “I take control of things.” If a candidate agrees with that statement, is it a positive characteristic or does it mean that they cannot take direction from others? If a candidate disagrees with the statement, is a negative characteristic or does it mean that follow instructions well? Current assessments are quite difficult to
fool. It is difficult to shape the results in a particular way, even when someone is familiar with assessments.

That being said, there are two scales that are more susceptible to distortion than the others: Sensitivity and Details. The reason for this is that in the Western world, being calm under pressure and handling stress are seen as universally desirable. Similarly, attention to details and organization is generally viewed as positive. Of course, BestWork DATA studies have shown that in many jobs,  neither calmness nor detailed organization is desirable. Still, job candidates that trigger the Faking Good scale often attempt to appear more calm or more organized than they actually are.


  1. Is the candidate’s resumé strong? Is their experience what you need? If you interviewed them, was the interview outstanding? If the answers to these questions are not “Yes”, then the Faking Good score is another indication that you should seek a more satisfactory candidate without considering the other BestWork elements.
  2.  Are the BestWork cognitive scores acceptable? The cognitive score and the behavioral descriptions related to General Reasoning are not affected by Faking Good. If that score or those job behavior descriptions are not acceptable, the personality scores may not be relevant. You should seek a more satisfactory candidate.
  3. Are the BestWork Assessment scores and job behavior descriptions satisfactory, regardless of the Faking Good effect? Looking at the picture which the candidate has painted of their job behavior, is it what you are looking for in that position? If there was no Faking Good scale, are they a candidate you would hire? If the answer is not “Yes”, you should seek a more satisfactory candidate.
  4. The most important fact demonstrated by a high Faking Good score is that the candidate does not acknowledge their weaknesses. For whatever reason, they either do not admit to having any weaknesses or they are concealing them. It is impossible to coach anyone effectively who does that. Their defensiveness precludes positive discussions and generally leads to a frustrating situation for their manager and co-workers. It is recommended that if all other factors were positive and satisfactory, the candidate should be interviewed with the questions which the BestWork system provides for Faking Good.
    • When you answered the questions in the assessment, you admitted to almost no weaknesses. Tell me about that.
    • Give me an example from your previous experience of when another person was able to coach you effectively.
    • Thinking about your past work experience, tell me about weaknesses that you have dealt with during that time.
  5. Remember that one of the first things the Company asked this candidate to do was to answer this assessment honestly and frankly. They did not do that. That is fact. It is doubtful that such a characteristic will serve the company well in any position. Be completely sure that everything else is quite satisfactory before making a hiring decision. Evaluating other candidates to provide alternative choices is recommended.


The most important step in minimizing high Faking Good scores is to present the assessment as a positive experience, designed to help both the Company and the individual determine the best way to use their talents and abilities. Some ways of doing this are:

  1.  Use the Candidate and Employee letters provided by BestWork DATA to introduce the assessment. The introduction can be edited for your purposes, but use the basic wording which has been crafted through the experience of many BestWork DATA clients and is proven to work well for most people.
  2. Do not joke about the 'assessment' process. Candidates and employees may laugh but they will not really be put at ease. A positive and professional approach will do this much better.
  3. Echo the words from the directions by saying that the best results come from frank and honest answers. The first response is usually the most accurate. There are no trick questions. There are no bad results. Everyone is in search of the same thing, a good fit for the job.
  4. Point out that the BestWork DATA Experience contains a mechanism that detects attempts to distort or exaggerate the answers. Emphasize that accurate answers are best for everyone.
  5. The BestWork DATA Experience includes a timed cognitive test. It is important to reinforce the idea that few people actually finish the test. Most people are not accustomed to timed tests, and their surprise at not completing the cognitive part can make them a bit anxious.
  6. It is important to share some results with the participants. This may not be the policy with job candidates, but it is critical when assessing existing employees. The BestWork DATA Job Strengths Report is designed for this purpose. It is a positive description of the person’s strengths. It does not address weaknesses or negative issues. It does not compromise the content of any other BestWork DATA Reports. It does give the assessment participants a positive and affirming feeling as a part of the experience. This encourages them to share this positive sense of the experience with others who have not yet completed the survey.

Assessment information can be a critical element in selecting the right person for the right job, but only if that information is reliable. The Faking Good feature in BestWork DATA Experience is there to ensure that reliability. BestWork DATA offers accurate measures of human performance and capabilities that translate directly into job behaviors and job performance.