In an average 10 minutes conversation with a stranger, Psychologist and lying specialist Robert Feldman reckons that we will lie 3 times, and if you actually think about it interviewees would actually be crazy not to embellish and exaggerate their strengths during an interview while underplaying their weakness. It is expected in a competitive job market, and when there is a skill shortage across many professional industries, it is often difficult to select interviewees from large numbers of applicants, and it can be difficult to really get to know someone during the short period of an interview, but consider the following telltale signs that would enable you know if a candidate is just a talker;
Body language: Of course, interview nerves may make the most honest candidate appear awkward at first, but this should quickly settle as he or she becomes more comfortable in your presence. There are many signs that an individual is not telling the truth, and many of these are physical. Staying very still, and breathing heavily can indicate dishonesty, as can sudden head movements or foot shuffling.
Difficulty speaking: When someone is lying, they become stressed and this dries the mouth. Speech becomes more difficult, and you may also notice lip biting or pursing, or covering the mouth with the hands, in an attempt to close off communication about a difficult subject, any substantial changes in tone, from suddenly dropping an octave to slowing or speeding up speech dramatically, implies that the candidate’s answer isn’t coming naturally to them, it may also imply that they have not been entirely honest about some or all details.
Unusual Presentation: If you are interviewing for a candidate for a management role, and the person in front of you is nervous, jittery, dressed in too casual a manner or unsure of the terminology appropriate for this type of role, this could be a warning sign that things are not quite what they seem. Does the person you are interviewing have the level of confidence that you would expect for the position they are being interviewed for? This is a very important question to keep at the back of your mind while conducting an interview.
Difficulty recalling details: When an interviewee is discussing previous projects and offering examples of his or her experience, you can often gauge the truthfulness of the information by asking for details. Ask how many people were involved in a previous project, or question the statistical success or outcome. If an interviewee claims to have led a project but cannot answer detailed questions, alarm bells should ring for you.
Repetition: If someone is trying to convince you and themselves that they have the relevant experience or skill to take a position, they may repeat themselves in an attempt to justify this. Repetition allows the speaker to take the time to gather their thoughts and think through the story they are telling.
Remember, you might be wrong and you don’t want to write a great candidate off, simply because nerves got the better of them. We spend our entire lives trying to surround ourselves with people we trust and distance ourselves from those we don’t. In the real world it comes down to gut feeling. If something doesn’t sound or look right, rely on your gut instinct and question it further, and don’t be satisfied until you have a satisfactory answer. You might still have been lied to of course, but the chances are your interrogation over a potential lie will have flushed out the truth, or at least a version of it.