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Proctoring! And Why You Need It

The definition of proctoring according to the Cambridge dictionary is “to watch people taking an exam in order to check that they do not cheat”. So proctoring is as old as exams themselves. I’m showing my age perhaps, but all our school and university exams involved sitting in a hall or room (usually stiflingly hot) with a pensioner who’d been brought in to watch us scribble away for 2 or 3 hours. I’m not really sure how effective they were if you really wanted to cheat. At that time cheating involved writing things on your arm or on bits of paper hidden in your pencil case. Not me of course…. 

The bar keeps being lifted higher for these school and college exams – in an environment where AI is challenging our whole approach to learning, and what knowledge is still important. 

For pre-hiring testing things have always been a bit more relaxed – and typically any assessments were conducted at the premises of the prospective employer. Covid and remote working have changed all that. Consider these issues for any on-line test or assessment you are having completed remotely: 

  • Is the person who completes the assessment the one you are considering hiring?  Or did they get their smart friend to sit it for them? 
  • Did they receive help from friends / co-workers / house guests? 
  • Did they use Google or AI? 
  • How long did they spend on the assessment? 

We’ve had reports of candidates spending 12+ hours on Excel assessments that should take less than 30 minutes. Unless you know they spent 12 hours your decision based on the result might very well be the wrong one.    

At Accountests we can generally tell when someone tries to cheat one of our tests using Google or AI – because their question success rate is very high, but they can’t finish a high number of questions. We actually see very little of this – we’d hope the ethical bar of accountants is quite high!  But proctoring can help. 

Proctoring on-line tests can be as simple as having a candidate complete the test whilst on Teams or Zoom. You can watch them. But you or someone on your team need to be available, so it’s time consuming and a bit clunky. Having proctoring built in to the testing process makes this much easier as you don’t need to be present, so long as you get a report on the candidate activity, and can check that the person you can see taking the test is person you’ve seen at interview or screening. 

As a hiring manager it’s important to consider both why you should proctor, and what to be mindful of. Here’s a few reasons proctoring any pre-hire assessment process is important: 

  1. You want to choose the best candidate. That’s pretty simple really, but if your criteria include considering the result of any testing it needs to give you accurate data.

  2. You want candidates to be confident your process is fair. That’s hard with open ended assessments or ones not tied closely to the job description. 

  3. If your process is not robust it could be subject to legal challenge. 

  4. You don’t want candidates sharing the test content with other candidates. 

Proctoring also brings with it an onus on you to protect the privacy of the candidate, to store any proctoring images securely, and to explain to the candidate how you are doing this. 

Cheating has always been around. Calculators, Google and now AI keep upping the anti on those wanting to use test results to make decisions. Proctoring is currently your best defense. 

Over the next couple of weeks Accountests will be introducing built-in proctoring to all our assessments – we’re looking forward to showing you. 


Want to see if Accountests will work for your firm? Click on the button for a FREE trial test - use it on a candidate or get one of your staff to give it a go and see what they think.  
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Giles Pearson  |  After 18 years as a partner with a large public accounting firm, Giles founded Accountests to help those recruiting accountants make better hiring decisions

Accountests  |  Accountests deliver the world’s only online suite of annually updated and country-specific technical skills, ability and personality tests designed by and for accountants and bookkeepers. 
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