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Frequently Asked Questions Assessment Policy

How can I minimize response inflation when using self-report occupational questionnaires?

Response distortion (whether high or low) has long been a challenge with self-report occupational questionnaires.  Employing the following suggestions may help:


  • Write questions in terms of observable and verifiable behaviors
  • Use warnings/verification statements that identify the consequences of false claims.  (NOTE: This should be done either at the beginning of the questions or within the job opportunity announcement.)
  • Ask applicants for verifying sources (e.g., previous supervisors) so the responses can be checked for accuracy
  • Follow-up with a confirmatory assessment (e.g., a work sample test, structured interview)

Research has shown that warning applicants in advance that their responses are subject to verification can be a powerful incentive to answer honestly.


For more information regarding occupational questionnaires, please visit the Occupational Questionnaire page of OPM's Assessment and Selection website ( or contact

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