5 ways to combat lying job applicants at interviews

By Juliet Soh

Remember those whodunit stories? It’s always hard to tell who the real criminal is because they all look like good people and have strong alibis. In a similar way, when most job applicants come in their best suit, show lots of enthusiasm about the position and have good resumes to prove that they’re suitable for the job – all thanks to great career guidance in school or training seminars – it may be hard to tell if any of them are lying or exaggerating about their credentials.

That’s why recruiters may be “fooled” into hiring an unsuitable candidate by their performance during interview and their exaggerated resume. How can you sieve out the wheat from the chaff? Here are five tips:

#1: Tell them you’ll do checks
At the start of the interview, let the candidate know that the company practises reference checks. By pre-empting them, candidates will naturally be deterred from lying during the interview, because they know that they may get found out eventually.

#2: Get them to talk
Always ask open-ended questions and follow-up questions. For instance, if a candidate said he was top salesperson for six consecutive months, ask questions like “How far did you exceed your sales target?”, “How did you manage to achieve consistent results?”, and “Which clients were most challenging and how did you convince them?” to get him to talk more.

If a candidate made a claim that sounds too incredulous, you can also ask for the same information in different ways to probe further – if he is inconsistent in his answers, then something’s not right. Questions that indicate some doubt like “Did you do all that by yourself?” and “What other help did you get that you haven’t mentioned?” make candidates spill the truth.

#3: Ask expertise questions
Throw in jargons and ask technical questions that only someone who is a professional would know. Such questions will also stump those who are trying to get away with lying and you’ll find out if your candidate really knows his stuff.

#4: Test their skills
The best way to know if a candidate can perform is to get him to do a task on the spot. It’s common for writers to go through a writing test before they could secure a job, but this doesn’t mean you can’t do the same for other types of positions. Improvise and get creative with ways you can test your candidate regardless of the position he has applied for.

#5: Verify the information
Get references from the candidate and give them a call to find out more about the interviewee. Check if the references are legitimate too by asking questions like the name of the company’s CEO. Another way to check on the interviewee is to go through his social networking profiles. Sometimes, it may give away clues to whether he was telling the truth at the inteview.

Do you have other interview tips? Share with us in the comment box!

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