California employers generally cannot make job applicants take a psychological exam as part of the application process. Specifically, any employer subject to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Govt C §§12900-12996) (i.e., one employing five or more persons) may not require any psychological examination of a job applicant. Govt C §12940(e)(1).
But what about if the employer doesn’t actually order a psychological exam, but instead uses the job interview to stealthily get into the applicant’s head?
The Careerist blog reports on law firms deploying behavior interviews to assess job applicants. These firms “want assurance that [applicants] have the “right stuff”–the psychological makeup–for survival and success at the firm.” The goal of behavioral interviewing, as a Law.com article puts it, is to
see how new attorneys can handle the sometimes stressful law firm environment and, even more, whether they can provide real world value to clients beyond just handing in strong work product.
At least one law firm is going beyond behavioral interviews to require that recruits take a psychological test as part of their callbacks. Although this would be unlawful in California for those employers subject to the FEHA, it’s a safe bet that some employers will edge as close to the testing line as they can without stepping over in the always competitive effort to get the top talent in the applicant pool.
On hiring guidelines (and pitfalls), including those relating to psychological testing, check out CEB’s Advising California Employers and Employees, chap 1.
© The Regents of the University of California, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.