The Problem of Work Sample in High Tech Industry

In I/O psychology, various methods are discussed for predicting job candidates’ future performance in the hiring process.  Work sample in general can be used as a valid indicator in selection of employees in many types of positions.  However, in the past I have encountered problems with work samples for hiring high tech positions such as software engineers.  For programmers and software developers, a work sample is usually a page of source code of software function.  Many job candidates can present a sophisticated sample and explain the computing logic thoroughly.  But sometimes we found that the sample was not the original work at all but a copy from open source which is a free software community contributed by programmers worldwide.  In this case, a work sample could be less validated because it is so easy to fake.  It seems workers and applicants conduct unethical behavior more frequently in the high tech industry.  A hypothesis is that people in high tech intend to behave unethically because they are smarter and more creative.  A study by Gino and Ariely (2012) found "a robust relationship between creativity and dishonesty" (p. 456).  That means the high tech industry faces challenges of employee ethic issues when it keeps hiring top talents.  For I/O psychologists, it is a good opportunity to help the industry fix the problem of moral matters.


Gino, F., & Ariely, D. (2012). The dark side of creativity: Original thinkers can be more dishonest. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(3), 445–459.

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