The topic of Graphology recently came up in my office and how it can be used against you in the job search. Phoenix-based Handwriting Research Corporation claims they can help companies pre-screen employees and determine whether or not they will be a good job fit. They also allege they can detect whether the applicant displays traits of dishonesty, alcoholism, or even addictive behaviors. And they assert that companies can legally get this information without the knowledge of the applicant! Here’s how:

The interviewer hands you a form requesting that you describe (in cursive writing) your ideal job environment. Seems innocent enough, except there is a Consent and Release Form attached that clearly states the following:

“Research has established that personality is the single most important factor in determining one’s compatibility to and happiness in a particular job or career. Studies have also determined that an analysis of handwriting is a viable, non-discriminatory procedure in understanding an individual’s personality for such purposes. The results can be invaluable in identifying: hidden talents or potential interests and motivations, and can be utilized in career development, self-improvement and in team-building activities. The analysis results will be used in conjunction with other data, tests, observations and job-related information to facilitate human resource decisions. If you choose not to participate, you will not be denied employment opportunities on the basis of your refusal. By signing above, I hereby release this company, and Handwriting Research Corporation from any liability based on their findings or recommendations.”

No where in the above statement do they reveal “we’re also checking out what kind of risk you’ll be to us.”

You NEED to know that some States have introduced bills to outlaw this form of screening. Regardless, it’s a sneaky way for organizations to implement “arbitrary pseudo-science background checks” without your full knowledge.

I suppose it would be a more ethical approach if the employer stated, “look, we’re investing a lot in hiring you, and we’d like to know as much as possible. Therefore, you need to understand that we believe handwriting is a good indicator of drug use, personality disorders, sexual deviance, and possible violent behavior, in addition to your hidden talents and potential.” If that’s the case, everyone is honest and upfront with one another. However, HRC makes no mention of it on their handwriting analysis page, and the employer doesn’t tell you what they’re up to either.

While I can understand a company’s need to protect its assets, I don’t believe it’s in your best interest to work for anyone who will dupe you into taking such a test. Further, the Washington University Law Quarterly published a comprehensive report on the LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF GRAPHOLOGY and how its’ practice has performed very poorly in validity tests. In other words, it’s a bunch of hooey.

Finally, why would anyone want to partner with a company that would employ such deceitful tactics? If they lie to you in the recruiting stage, chances are they will do it again after you’re hired.