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How to Tell If a Candidate's Lying During an Interview

By Poyen Ramos on January 1, 2017

One of the biggest challenges about job interviews is that interviewers can't detect if a candidate is telling the truth, which can lead to a bad hire. So how can you tell if a job candidate is lying during an interview? You can’t. Not really.

Not all hope is lost. There are some clues you can use to determine whether someone is telling the truth.

Watch out for the body language

You might have heard that the avoiding eye contact and fidgeting is an indication of lying, however, nervousness is a natural behavior especially in high-stakes conditions – like a job interview. In a study across 75 countries, they found that using cues of nervous behavior to detect lying is unreliable.

Professor DeSteno’s experiments on trustworthy body language found that a set of four cues, taken together, seems to indicate deception, and should be what you should look out for:

  • hand touching
  • face touching
  • arms crossing
  • leaning away

    body language cues that indicate that someone is lying
    Source: HBR

Watch out for verbal cues

In their review of the research on lie detection, researchers found that there is no word (or nonverbal cue) that is directly related to someone lying. However, there are behaviors that were found to be correlated with lying:

    • They are being too vague/provide few details
    • They are contradicting
    • Their answers or responses are overly scripted and chronological

How to Tell If a Candidate's Lying During an Interview
Source: LinkedIn

However, the research say that trying to detect whether a job candidate is lying during an interview is difficult and probably not really worth the effort. A better way to do it is to make sure your interviews are designed to best predict the candidate’s future job performance, like increasing validity by asking questions related to the knowledge, skills, abilities, and characteristics required for the job.

The truth is that job interviews often fail not because the job candidate is deceptive, but because the interviewer isn’t conducting a proper interview in the first place.

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