How to Know If a Candidate Is Lying to You During the Interview

April 11th, 2019


A job candidate flies through the recruiting process. Great resume. Stellar interview. Says all the right things and describes all the right experiences.

You bring them in for their first day. Disaster. They have no idea what they’re doing. It quickly dawns on you: the perfect resume, the impressive interview … all lies.

Now you have to cut loose that grifter you just hired and return to the recruiting process, an expensive move that not only slows down progress on other projects, but makes you look foolish within the company.

If only there were ways to spot the liars in the moment, all of this could be avoided.

Unfortunately, it’s not practical (and possibly not legal) to resort to lie detectors or truth serum. Wonder Woman’s golden lasso is fictional, and you don’t have time to train at Quantico to become an FBI interrogation specialist.

However, there are some red flags you can keep in mind while conducting the interview that will show a candidate is fudging the truth. Here are some of the best ways to cut through the lies:

They Use Vague Language

You can expect a candidate to spin their experience a little, framing their qualifications in the best possible light. It’s not lying, per se, but taking someone’s claims at face value can lead to costly hiring mistakes.

Watch out for descriptions that lack specificity. How long did you hold that position? “Around a year.” Do you have any specific experience in this area? “I participated in a project that was very similar.”

The best counter to these kinds of fuzzy descriptions is to drill down with follow-up questions. Make the candidate prove their case by providing details on the topic.

Their Stories Don’t Make Sense

People use vague language when they are trying to shade the truth a little. However, that ethical dance doesn’t really apply to full-on liars. They don’t obscure. They just make stuff up.

In these cases, a person’s story might come highly detailed. But remember: A great novel is highly detailed … but also made up.

To counter this, apply the common-sense test.

Does it make sense that a 25-year-old would be CEO of a Silicon Valley startup, and then two years later, apply for your data-entry job? If her uncle is the Sultan of Brunei, why did she go to a community college in Cleveland?

Check every claim against a healthy skepticism and use your knowledge of the world to counteract any attempt to get one over on you.

Double-Check With Outside Sources

Think about the detective in a murder mystery. They need to wade through suspects’ stories and find out who committed the crime. How do they sift the fake alibis from the real ones?

The detectives compare the various tales with other evidence. They check one story against another. They use physical evidence to prove or disprove a claim.

Utilize the same basic principle when dealing with job applicants. You don’t have to break out the CSI gear or start using a hot interrogation lamp. But compare their claims to harder evidence.

Look at the candidate’s social media feeds to compare dates. Talk to references to confirm skills and experiences. Double-check with oversight bodies to make sure all credentials and certificates are authentic.

Sifting through the claims made by job applicants can represent a frustrating chore. Using a qualified staffing agency allows you to skip that step.

SmartTalent will provide you the best talent available; prevetted and verified. Contact SmartTalent today to find out how we can upgrade your team quickly and efficiently.

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