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How to Tell if your Interviewee is Being Economical with the Truth

By Glenn Cowan

Part and parcel of running any successful business is making sure that you have the right people in place. Even entrepreneurial giants like Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Sir Alan Sugar etc all need to be surrounded by “the right people”. So recruitment plays a crucial role in determining if your business is going to realize its full potential. Sadly it is also an area that many bosses don’t get quite right, though they will of course pretend otherwise!

In today's competitive job market there can often be a skills shortage across professional industries, making the task of choosing the right candidate even more difficult. It can of course be difficult to select someone from a large number of applicants. As can getting to know the person during the relatively short time of an interview. Therefore it’s even more essential for smaller firms to hire the right people - imagine putting your advertising budget in the hands of someone who simply didn’t have a clue what to do with it?

Honesty is Always the Best Policy!

Employing the best person always relies on the interviewees being honest when attempting to prove their suitability for the available position.Of course, this doesn’t always happen. Too many employers are “misled” by the supposed skill set of their candidate and end up employing the wrong person.

However as employers we also have to try to remember that potential employees might not be as comfortable as we are in interview situations. Our years of experience are likely to outweigh that of a new graduate, for example.Putting your candidate under undue pressure can result in making them nervous, it could also heighten their need to impress. He or she might well be tempted to embellish their previous experiences or skills in a ploy to enhance their suitability for your advertised role. Confidence in the interviewee’s skills are vital, if you are to avoid the pitfalls that surely follow when you hire a candidate who isn’t really up to the job…..

Five Tell-Tale Signs of Lies

  1. Recalling Particular Details: Lateral eye movement can be a trigger to know if someone is recalling factual information or if they are making something up. Generally speaking the eyes will move slightly up and to the left when recalling information. Eye contact is generally seen as healthy; however, be aware if your candidate continually stares straight ahead at you when answering questions. This can be a giveaway for disinterest or lying, unless of course your interviewee has fallen deeply in-love with you!. If there are signs that the person is constantly looking towards the exit, this could be a response that the individual is telegraphing their need for physically and psychologically ending their uncomfortableness with lying.

  1. Repetition: The need for someone to repeat information can be a sign that they are trying to convince you and themselves that they have the skills or experience needed for the position. In some cases it is this repetition that will allow the speaker to gather his or her thoughts to be able to think through the story that they are telling.

  1. Difficulty Speaking: It’s important to remember what we said earlier about a candidate feeling nervous, anxious or under pressure. However, when people are lying they very often become stressed. This natural reaction will often dry the mouth making normal speech more difficult. Watch out for signs that the interviewee bites their lips or covers the mouth with their hands. This can also be a subconscious attempt to close of communication on a difficult subject that they have not’ been entirely honest about.

  1. Strange Presentation: You can safely expect that certain positions command a certain level of experience. For example if you are interviewing for a manager or senior position then it’s reasonable to expect the person that is in front of you not to be overtly nervous, jittery or even dressed in a casual manner. Look out for terminology used and make sure that it matches up with what you would expect from a person with the experience required.

  1. Body Language Traits: Okay, referencing the point about being under pressure you shouldn’t pay 100% attention to this area in isolation. However, signs to review could be when an interviewee remains very still that there could be signs of dishonesty. In addition, candidates that exhibit heavier than normal breathing could also be worth investigating more (assuming they don’t have a winter cold or other ailment). Remember, interview nerves can make the most honest of candidates seem a little awkward at first, it is your role as a seasoned interviewer to put them at ease as quickly as possible.

Creating the Right Atmosphere

If you seek honest responses to your interview questions then there is much that you can do to effect this. Never forget that creating an environment of transparency and openness in your hiring process makes a significant difference.Your website should accurately convey information about your business. Any job postings that you make should be kept informative, rather than cryptic or potentially misleading.

As an interviewer you need to be authentic in your discussions with the candidate. Exaggerating the role or leaving out important details might trigger the applicant to think that full disclosure isn’t in their best interests.Ultimately it is your ability to trust your impressions that will make the difference between a successful hire and having to repeat the whole process again.

If you can’t afford to make a recruiting error then you must follow up to ascertain the full facts. Think whether or not the language and vocabulary used in the interview matches up with what you have seen on the individual's resume. Don’t forget to check references properly.Practiced deceivers have the skills to be able to get away with telling whoppers. Use your gut, but always watch out for the many physical clues that could be suggesting that your interviewee is being economical with the truth!