Flaming Pants and Other Lie Indicators

Want help with your hiring? It's easy. Enter your information below, and we'll quickly reach out to discuss your hiring needs.

Lying businessman observing his long noseThe candidate shows up to an interview for a reason, he/she wants this position. The person either needs a job, or wishes to leave his/her current position. The goal is clear, and there’s a pretty easy way to help improve the person’s chances, lying. We all do it; we call them fibs, lies and tall tales based on the severity of our falsification. According to a recent study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, one-third of all resumes contain false information. With so many lies flying around, how can interviewers tell when they’re being lied to?

Second Interview

As you go over your notes from the first interview, did you stop on any points that the candidate could have been stretching the truth? Make note of these points and the person’s responses, and use them during the second interview as a cross check. When people lie often, they tend to get their own stories twisted. The truth is easy to recall; something you made up on the spot is not.

Ask the same questions that raised red flags but word them slightly differently. Wording the questions in the exact same manner has a tendency to spark their memory. Are the answers the same? Did they drop the same numbers, names, accomplishments and dates as they did in the first interview?

If during the initial interview the candidate took credit for something that you don’t know enough about to question, study up on it. For instance, if he or she claimed to have won a prestigious award, you might inquire who the presenter of the award was or see if other specific information that you have since gathered matches up with what he or she is claiming.

Check it Out

Ask for references that can attest to their claims. This might at times feel brazen, but so is lying. If they end up having been truthful, no harm done, you’re just doing your job. Candidates are lying about everything from degrees to training certifications. It’s not out of line to ask for the actual certificates, diplomas and training signatures. This is in fact your job.

This also includes general references. You can call the number provided and potentially speak to someone’s girlfriend posing as an ex-employer, or you can take 10 seconds to Google the number yourself.

Put Skills to the Test

This is also more of a second interview type of thing. When an employee claims to code in every language possiblehe/she is fluent in Japanese, and by the way, the person’s an expert in risk management (Seinfeld reference)you may way to put those skills to the test.

Whattaya know, there’s a computer right here! Creating short, informal tests are a great way to weed out the liars. They may not even have to speak five languages to work for your company, but they do need to be honest.

Body Language

While not as concrete as the rest of these lie detectors, body language can tell interviewers a lot about their candidate’s honesty, e.g. eye contact. When a candidate is maintaining eye contact throughout the interview and then suddenly breaks it, that is a huge cue. Delayed responses can also indicate that they are taking time to fabricate or recall a previous fabrication.  Additionally, when someone is lying his/her voice gets higher and the person’s pupils actually dilate. Obviously, all of this should be taken with a grain of salt, but knowing these subtle indicators will help you decipher what to follow up on.

By Maren Hogan