You’ve been searching long and hard, put in countless hours of flipping through that stack of CVs on your desk and the ones in your computer. Finally, you’ve found it, that golden CV! Decent photo, excellent grades, possessed leadership roles, and has even done volunteering. The perfect candidate is now just a dial away.
But then, something in your gut stirs, his CV is just too good to be true. So, you decide to reserve judgment until the interview and call the person up to inform the good news.
Imagine that you are this particular recruiter (or you could really be this recruiter), how would you detect if a candidate is being truthful nor not during an interview? How do you trust your gut to sound the alarm if that candidate is a waste of hiring cost?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some tips on how to know if your candidate is lying during an interview.
For most people, the act of lying elicits several reactions because the brain takes some time to pause and not tell the truth. Breaking eye contact, fidgeting, change in voice tone and feet shifting are examples of bad body language during an interview. It’s the first warning signs to show that a candidate is lying through his / her teeth. However, some people are ‘lying experts’ so these actions may not even surface.
To ensure that you are satisfied with the answers they’re giving you, you need to keep probing and verify some of the details that were written in their CV. In fact, that is the first thing every recruiter needs to do.
1. Put The Candidate To The Test
When candidates boast about achievements they’ve made or have highlighted specific things in their CV, fish out the truth by asking them for details. For example:
You need to establish a baseline in the beginning. This is the essential first step to spotting a liar. Start by asking simple questions that identify with their personal lives such as:
- “How long have you been living in [location]?”
- “What do you do during your free time?”
- “Where did you study?”
These questions allow the candidate to open up about themselves and the answers should be direct and straightforward. They should come out as completely honest answers. Then you can move to slightly difficult questions like:
- “What are your weaknesses?”
- “Why did you leave your previous employment?”
- “What was the biggest mistake you’ve made?”
If the candidate is able to tell the truth in the first set of questions, the more difficult questions tend to give reason for the candidate to lie, especially if the resume doesn’t match up.
Here you can start identifying the initial warning signals if the candidate is lying. Did he pause, blinked rapidly, avoid eye contact or fidget any part of his body?
Pro Tip: Look out for the movement of their eyes; did they break eye contact, blink rapidly or look towards the left? Look at how they move in their chair and even how they breathe.
This is the baseline of the candidate’s honesty.
As you move forward with the interview, you will notice deviations (if there are any) and this will trigger your lying detector senses.
2. Identify Changes In Body Language
This is where we get to the meat of it. A whole chunk of things fall under this category like:
We always tell candidates that one of the best ways to score a good interview, is first and foremost to keep eye contact with the interviewer. Therefore, this is the first thing that a recruiter should monitor the candidate for. However, when the candidate breaks eye contact it doesn’t always mean that they’re lying. It could mean they’re just nervous or uncomfortable.
A reliable way to determine if he or she may be lying is to look out for deviating eye movements. For example, if your interviewee has the habit of looking up and left when answering questions then suddenly looks to the right when you ask them what happened at their last job, they’re probably lying about something. When candidates break eye contact mid sentence or when they come to the ‘point’ of the story; it’s usually because they want to reduce the guilt of lying as holding on to eye contact can be overwhelming for liars.
Disclaimer: This may not be a foolproof method to detect lies, therefore you should continue with more probing if you’re still not convinced with the answers.
It’s not all the time that candidates give themselves away for lying when their voice cracks. For some, their voices may just appear higher pitched due to stress (it happens all the time when candidates are a train-wreck and are trying their best to keep calm and cool. A completely normal phenomenon).
These are signs that are more apparent which you keep an eye out:
- Sudden Pauses: When a person lies, they take double the amount of energy than telling the truth. The brain has to think twice as hard to come up with seemingly viable answers. so they get tired easily and pause in between explanations, allowing the brain more time to process the information received and the information that will be delivered. More than 3 pauses in explaining one question can bust that liar open.
- Answers Are Overly Scripted And Contradicting: When candidates answers that are just not concise. Yes, the whole purpose of the interview is to get the candidates to elaborate about themselves and sell themselves, but if they drag and beat around the bush, or even give vague statements, it could mean that they’re just stalling to come up with any information that sounds reliable. In other words, they will have to work double the effort to tell the lie, as they tell would have to actually try and convince you the interviewer, and also themselves that what they are saying is ‘true’ enough.
Jitters from nervousness is a completely normal thing during an interview. These are small involuntary movements such as twisting the fingers, shaking the leg or even becoming stiff. A confident candidate can turn into a nervous lying wreck depending on the questions you ask and vice versa. For example, when the candidate starts the interview cool and calm, then suddenly covers their face or crosses their arms, or when the candidate that had natural body movements suddenly went completely still; they might not be telling you the whole story.
Too much fidgeting, and too little fidgeting can mean bad news!
If you have detected these strange behaviours and never knew what it meant, here are some notes you could take down:
- Hand To Face Gestures: This usually means covering up their mouths and face touching. Face touching is a classic go-to lying response. If an average candidate touches their face or covers their mouth more than 5 times, you should question this behaviour and proceed to probe deeper like asking them ‘how did they achieves [title]’ or ‘highest average figure sales every month’. If their response is coupled with face touching or scratching their neck, chances are, you’ve got yourself a liar.
- Other gestures you should look out for: rubbing the ear lobe, scratching one’s neck, pulling the collar.
So there you go folks, handy tips on how to detect when your candidates are lying during an interview. we hope you find this useful. But remember, if all else fails, follow your gut!