Is Your Applicant Lying To You?
When administering interviews as an employer, your objective is to learn more about the applicants and hire the best individual for the position. For the applicant, their goal is to discover whether your position is the right fit for them and to convince you that they are that best person. Unfortunately, in a high-pressure situation, such as this, an applicant might be impelled to stretch the truth. Everyone has those moments when you suspect what a job applicant’s telling you in an interview is an audacious lie. But without more validation, it’s hard to decide if it’s a deal-breaker.
The tell-tale signs of an applicant who isn’t being truthful does not always come down to what they say; quite a lot of what they don’t say will also serve to give away their dishonesty. Reading the actual body language of the applicant is an excellent way of spotting the odd lie.
-Establish a Baseline
The best way to establish a baseline is to build rapport with your applicant to learn their body language; try to make them feel comfortable in the interview situation. If you don’t know the applicant then you can start by asking their name and what they do for a living. Asking about hobbies is another great way to build rapport. Applicants will normally answer these types of questions truthfully, so it is important that you pick up on the body language that is displayed. If you already know the applicant you can establish a baseline by asking about something that you know they are doing already. An example of this might be to inquire about how they are getting on with a particular project or person.
Ever heard the phrase “look me in the eye and tell the truth”?
This quote is not uncommon, therefore, liars have trained themselves to stare directly at you.
To add, Look where the applicants’ eyes go when you ask them a question. Though it’s not always the case, most research suggests that when a person is recalling factual events, they will look slightly to the right, however when they are making something up, their eyes will often move to the left. This is to do with where the brain stores information relating to actual events.
After all this being presented, you should still consider that the applicant might avoid eye contact because they feel under pressure during the interview and might be nervous.
Another thing that is more likely to happen when an applicant is telling a lie is that they will move their body shape slightly away from yours; this is often the way that the liar will aim to avoid direct contact. They might also place objects between you and them (i.e. purse), often unconsciously. They might place things like a coffee cup or a book in between you; these objects can also serve to act as a barrier between the two of you.
Ever seen a lie detector? It’s trying to pick up on changes in a person’s heart rate.
When a person lies, their heart rate and blood flow change, which can cause someone to become a bit more out of breath than if everything were normal — hence, they begin to breath more heavily.
-Try Changing the Subject
When you suspect an applicant is lying, change the subject of the conversation quickly. The process behind this is that the liar will be feeling uncomfortable with the conversation and be glad that it has changed tracks. The non-liar will often be confused by the sudden change in conversation and seek ways to return to the previous subject.
-Watch for Mirroring
As the conversation unfolds the applicant will mirror some of your body language. Mirroring is simply copying someone else’s body language (i.e. crossing arms) when building rapport. It is often very subtle, but can be easy to spot by the trained eye. While these movements are normal, the trick is to be aware of when the mirroring stops. This can be a sign of when the applicant is using his or her skills to develop the lie that they are about to tell and as a result of this they will often stop the mirroring behavior.
It isn’t always easy to spot when an applicant is lying to you, but being able to read certain body language signs will help. Sometimes conducting the interview and taking notes will prevent some of the signs from being recognized. Try having another person in the room to note the applicants’ body language.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that observing some or all of these behaviors does not necessarily confirm that the applicant is being dishonest. However, if you notice many of these traits, it can be a red flag prompting you to dig deeper by verifying facts with previous employment references or other provided information from the applicant.