Fitness for Duty Screening

Dr. Chase has provided pre-employment evaluation services for various professions, including pilots, homeland security, border patrol, physicians, and executives. Personality, neuropsychological faculties, and psychiatric health are all considered in the evaluation of a high-stakes job applicant. A variety of specifically normed instruments are used to detect risk factors since a fitness-for-duty screening is unique to other forms of psychological testing or evaluation.

Actuarial (statistical probability) methods are relevant to the process of risk assessment, which means both dynamic (changing or changeable) factors about a person, as well as static (unchangeable) factors, are considered in the assessment of a job candidate.

An applicant for a job in security, border control, law enforcement, or military may find that psychological assessment is required in order to advance to candidacy for a position. This can be for a variety of reasons. A person with a background of mental health treatment, court involvement, disciplinary action in another job, a criminal past, or substance abuse problems may pose a perceived risk to the organization, the general public, or other individuals.

A psychological evaluation can clarify the degree to which an individual may pose a risk, or be unfit, in a particular high-stakes job capacity, such as those involving the use of weapons. In a fitness-for-duty evaluation, it is very important to remain cordial, transparent, and cooperative. If an evaluation is deemed invalid due to noncooperation, withholding, excessive defensiveness, or dishonesty, an examiner may consider the evaluation incomplete, which is generally a red flag for employers who are considering hiring, or advancing, a given candidate.

Consider the following two examples of high-stakes employment requirements. A pilot holds great responsibility for the safety of individuals in the air and on the ground; thus, clarity of mind, sufficient impulse control, emotional self-regulation, and distress tolerance are understandably requisite to the job.

Alternatively, a border patrol officer is tasked with interactions that may or may not be hostile at any given moment and with individuals of different backgrounds or demographic makeup. This being the case, an adequately fit candidate for the job would possess higher-order interpersonal judgment, fluid reasoning, conflict de-escalation, and tolerance or openness toward diversity variables.

There are two tiers of assessment conclusion when evaluating a candidate for fitness in a high-stakes employment position.

The first concerns whether a candidate must be deemed fit or unfit for the job. This means a candidate is deemed to be employable or unemployable in the position based on the basic requirements for fitness.

The second tier of conclusions concerns a candidate’s specific attributes, personality, and competencies and specific strengths, weaknesses, and goodness of fit for the particular position in question. This kind of deliberation exists in typical pre-employment assessments outside the scope of high-stakes positions, though the scope and criteria for a high-stakes job, such as law enforcement, are typically much more stringent and specific due to the potentially injurious consequences of a poor fit.