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How to keep people from cheating on your pre-employment skills tests


First Advantage, a global provider of background screening analytics, conducted a study that found that almost 25% of job candidates lied on their resumes. And 17% of companies responding to a survey conducted by the BBC and Federation for Small Businesses said that their employees had provided fake references. 76% of that 17% had received fake references on multiple occasions.

Unfortunately, just like some candidates lie on their resumes and some candidates provide fake references, others may look for ways to cheat on pre-employment screening tests.

How candidates may try to cheat on your online pre-employment skills test

At TestGorilla we have implemented a number of anti-cheating measures that will alert you when a candidate may have had outside help.

How candidates may try to get an unfair advantage

Even if we assume that most candidates don’t want to cheat, it’s important to know that you can trust the validity of your pre-employment assessments.

That’s why TestGorilla have a robust proctoring system to prevent cheating and alert you when someone may have received outside help. This starts with understanding how candidates may possibly cheat:

  • Sharing answers. After taking an assessment, a candidate may share the questions and answers with others—either widely distributing them online or sharing them with a small circle of friends who are applying for the same role.

  • Soliciting outside help. A candidate may enlist someone else to take the test for them or complete the test with someone’s help.

  • Taking the test multiple times. A candidate may try to find a way to take the test more than one time to improve their score.

  • Tampering with results: A candidate may try to exploit security weaknesses in the software or tamper directly with their results in the test database.

  • Searching for answers online. A candidate may have another browser window or even another monitor that they use to look up the answers to the test.

TestGorilla takes several precautions to prevent these forms of cheating and others.

How to prevent candidates from cheating

Deterring candidates from cheating on pre-employment assessments is possible by employing a combination of proactive communication and TestGorilla’s candidate testing platform.

1. Communicate positively and proactively

Candidates will feel less inclined to cheat if they understand they’re also receiving value by completing the assessment (and not just giving up their time).

In your communication with candidates before they fill out the test, tell them why you’re asking screening questions.

Explain that your goal is to find candidates who are the right match for the role and for the company. Your goal is not just to quickly filter and toss candidates aside. By completing the assessment, the candidate has an extra opportunity to prove that they’re the perfect match.

You can also explain you’re trying to reduce bias in your hiring practices by looking beyond their resumes and assessing them on their true cognitive and on-the-job skills.

This builds empathy and shows candidates that you’re a thoughtful employer, which will make candidates more excited to work for you and less likely to cheat.

You can also warn candidates they will be monitored for cheating. Knowing that there are security measures in place and that cheating may require more effort than simply taking the test truthfully will significantly curb a candidate’s desire to cheat.

But don’t try to intimidate candidates. If you decide to mention that there are anti-cheating measures in place, just give candidates a friendly, positive reminder to take the test on their own should be enough.

2. Make it hard to share questions and answers with TestGorilla

The easiest way for a candidate to cheat is to find answers to your questions online.

At TestGorilla, we take five precautions with our pre-employment tests that make it next to impossible to distribute questions and answers online.

Disable copy and paste

A simple first step to prevent cheating is to stop test takers from easily copying the questions. We disable copy-paste functionality so that candidates can’t copy your questions and answers and paste them into a separate document.

Cycle questions for each test

When a candidate takes a test from TestGorilla, they receive only a subset of relevant questions that come from a much larger question set. Questions are rotated from candidate to candidate.

This way, a single candidate only gets access to a small portion of all the potential questions they could be asked. Cheating would require a large, coordinated effort from many test-takers.

To ensure fairness, our algorithm chooses a combination of questions for each candidate that are equal in difficulty and length.

Limit the maximum number of times a question is given

Imagine your questions were eventually leaked online. There’s an easy way around that.

Once a test question has been shown to a certain number of candidates, we replace it in the question pool. This ensures the questions stay fresh and, even if they were leaked, they will be phased out eventually.

Impose a time limit

With TestGorilla, each candidate receives a set amount of time for each test. This gives them far less time to try to cheat by researching the answers as they go.

The time pressure also forces candidates to answer honestly and intuitively, as they have less time to thoroughly think out their answers.

We’re constantly optimizing our tests to ensure that we’re giving candidates just the right amount of time.

Prevent candidates from registering as test customers

In theory, if a candidate were significantly motivated to cheat, they could try to gain access to the test by registering as a customer.

However, TestGorilla has put measures in place to prevent candidates from registering as a customer in advance. For one thing, we require a business email to sign up for a free trial.

And, as an extra layer of security, we prevent customers from seeing the questions as well. You’ll know what types of questions are included, but not the exact questions and answers. So even if a candidate does create an account, they still won’t be able to see the questions.

3. Use anti-cheating monitor

If a candidate may have found a way to get an unfair advantage, it’s important that you know .

Plus, if a candidate knows you’re monitoring them as they take the test, it will make them naturally less inclined to cheat.

Therefore, at TestGorilla, we employ an anti-cheating monitor during the assessment. Our anti-cheating monitor will alert you if we detect any red flags from a candidate. If there are, it doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate is cheating. You’ll have to use careful judgment when determining how to use the information.

Prevent duplicate entries

TestGorilla detects if a candidate is using a second email address to take an assessment twice. Without this measure, a candidate could apply multiple times, cycling through their personal email addresses until they feel confident that they did well.

Record a candidate’s IP address

We record the candidate’s approximate location while they take the test using their IP address. 

If a candidate’s assessment is accessed from multiple IP addresses, it could indicate that they had help taking the test from someone in another location.

Enforce full-screen test-taking

To further discourage test takers from looking up test answers on the site, TestGorilla’s pre-employment assessments are always given in full-screen mode. TestGorilla detects and reports if the candidate exists in full-screen mode at any point during the assessment.

We also track if their mouse ever leaves the assessment window. If a candidate’s mouse leaves the assessment window, this could indicate that they were using another monitor to look up answers.

Take webcam snapshots

To make sure it’s the actual candidate that’s taking the assessment, TestGorilla takes snapshots every 30 seconds using the candidate’s camera.

This prevents the candidate from completing the test with someone else’s assistance.

To ensure the privacy of candidates, we make sure that each candidate agrees to the terms before starting an assessment. The snapshots are not meant to be intrusive. They’re used to ensure honesty. But you do have the option to turn off this feature.

Follow strict cybersecurity measures

Finally, if you’re serious about preventing cheating, you should ensure your testing software is serious about cybersecurity.

At TestGorilla, our software follows the highest cybersecurity standards to ensure both you and your candidates are protected from all angles. We test the entire system regularly to make sure all information is kept safe.

Test confidently with TestGorilla

With TestGorilla, you can be certain that your pre-employment assessments are delivered securely and that the integrity of the results are protected by our rigorous anti-cheating measures. If you’d like to get a better idea of what that looks like start a free trial today.


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