How Can You Tell Your Candidate is Lying?

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One of the segments in my workshops that attracts the most interests and attention is the segment on Reading and Interpreting Candidate’s Body Language.

The most common question from participants is: “How can we tell if a candidate is being truthful or not????

My answer is always this: “It’s very difficult. But there are specific signals you can look out for that may indicate if the candidate is untruthful.???

These signals are what we call “Red Flags???. Red Flags are signs – whether it is a facial expression or a particular body movement – that indicate the candidate may not be telling the whole truth or telling you half-truths or even outright lies.

Red Flags are signals to the Interviewer to “Watch out??? and take note. It is a signal to the Interviewer to circle back to ask more questions to verify if the candidate is hiding something or telling a half-truth. Red Flags are simply signals to the Interviewer to dig deeper to find out the real reason or reasons behind the facial expression or body movement that was observed.

Research has shown that most of us tell an average of 3 lies per every 10 minutes of conversation. If you are not convinced, I challenge you to observe yourself the next time you are having a conversation with a colleague or a friend.

This is particularly pronounced when we are having a conversation with someone we have just met or an acquaintance. When it is an acquaintance or someone we have just met, we will unconsciously attempt to project ourselves in the most positive ways and we unconsciously end up exaggerating aspects of ourselves – in other words, we lie to make ourselves look good.

For instance, this particular scenario plays out practically everywhere, everyday:

Someone whom you have just met asks you: “How’s life????

You would probably say: “Oh Great! Couldn’t be better!???

When in fact, you are bogged down with lots of work and overtime, having issues with your colleagues, just had an argument with your boss back in the office, or worst, having issues with your partner at home. Life isn’t quite that great after-all!

Whether it is a half-truth, or a white lie to keep someone from getting into trouble, a lie is a lie. And when we tell a lie – no matter what lie it may be – we unconsciously show it in our faces and in our actions.

Well, the same thing happens in interviews with candidates too.

We need to keep in mind that every candidate who comes in for an interview seeks to get hired. And they will attempt to project themselves in the most positive of ways. Inadvertently, they will end up telling half-truths or even outright lies just to impress the interviewers.

What about eye contact? Is it a reliable way of telling if a person is truthful or not?

Well, don’t count on eye contact as an indication of truthfulness. Eye contact is not a reliable way of telling if a candidate is truthful or not. It is not an indication whether a candidate is “shifty???.

Why? The reason is because most of us have already trained ourselves to look someone straight in the eye even if we aren’t truthful. Even kids are able to lie to you while looking you straight in the eyes.

If you would like to learn how to be a much sharper and more perceptive Interviewer, join us in our next workshop. We will highlight all of the common “Ref Flags” that you should look out for.

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September 16, 2014

2 thoughts on “How Can You Tell Your Candidate is Lying?”

  1. Lie ? and why do candidates lie, employees or in general human being lie.
    The most contributing factor is the circumstances or environment or an up bringing the family.
    When human beings are born they are innocent and truthful, the art of lying is picked up later, this is picked up from home with family members who are already practicing it well or friends in school or acquaintances which comes in contact often.
    Therefore upbringing, environment and surroundings very important for a human being to develop well and good person.

    1. Hi Francisco, you would be surprised to know that many candidates lie on their Resumes and CVs today.

      Take a look at the following statistics:

      – 46% of resumes include discrepancies in job candidate’s employment and educational histories
      – 40% of executives lie about their education
      – 35% lie about accomplishments or job missions
      – 53% of all job applications contain inaccurate information
      – 34% of all applications contain outright lies about experience, education, and ability to perform essential functions on the job
      – 9% of job applicants listed false employers, or identified jobs that didn’t exist
      – 11% of job applicants misrepresented why they left a former employer

      or read the full post here.

      The key is for interviewers to learn how to detect signs of deception during interviews, so that you do not end up hiring someone who is not what he or she is supposed to be.


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