Dr David Craig’s book Lie Detector is an excellent resource for recruiters and I highly recommend you purchase it.
In the meantime here’s a few hints from Dr Craig on lying as part of a recruitment and selection interview process:
Nervous is normal: Detecting lies is about, first, establishing a baseline of behavior. When a candidate is nervous it is crucial that you ask them questions to settle them down and normalise their behavior so you have a baseline to make effective behavior-change judgements from.
Viewing body language: One of the biggest tell-tale signs of lying is a change in the body language of a candidate. If you can conduct an interview where you can sit across from the candidate without any part of their body being concealed (ie don’t both sit at a small desk directly across from each other), then you can maximise the opportunity to view a significant change in body language that may indicate lying or that incomplete information is being provided to you.
Speech pattern and body language changes: No particular speech pattern is a sign of a probable lie. The critical thing to look for is inconsistency and sudden changes in speech patterns and body language. For example:
- Increased mispronunciation
- Repeating the question
(attempting to gain time to formulate a credible-sounding lie)
- Less, or increased, eye contact
- Blinking slows or increases
- Leaning back to create a barrier
- Pursed lips
- Hands in front of mouth or eyes
- Throat clearing or deep swallowing
- Insincere smiling
- Overly elaborate and detailed answer
Text bridging: Text bridging is a process where a person simply glosses over parts of a story which, if told in more detail, would expose a lie. When you ask a series of questions of a candidate on a specific topic, notice if there is a reduced amount of detail in one specific answer eg. you ask a ‘reason for leaving’ question about each of the past four jobs the candidate has left and they answer in some detail about three of those jobs and provide a cursory explanation about the other job. The cursory-answer job is the one you will then need to drill into to satisfy yourself that you have been told all the relevant information.
Distraction or deflection: Distraction or deflection is where the candidate attempts to change the direction or focus of the questions. For example you may be asking questions about their leadership accomplishments in their most recent job and the candidate switches their answer to talk about their leadership accomplishments in the job prior.
As with occurrences of text bridging the identification of a candidate using the distraction or deflection technique does not necessarily indicate a lie, however it is a signal that you should investigate this part of the candidate’s background or motivation more thoroughly to satisfy yourself that you have obtained all the relevant information.
Note: These techniques and suggestions are equally applicable in talking to a prospect about recruitment and when taking in an assignment.
The research indicates that the occurrences of candidates lying during a recruitment process, either in an application, a resume or in an interview, are increasing.
Your credibility as a professional recruiter is on the line every time you represent a candidate to a client. You have an obligation to arm yourself with the best possible techniques to identify when you are being mislead in any part of your job.