Fact or Fiction? 5 Ways to Tell a Candidate isn’t Being Truthful

Have you ever hired a candidate you thought would be the perfect fit with your team, only to find out that one or more of the things you based your hiring decision on was inaccurate? Whether it’s an exaggeration of experience, a fluffing of skills or an outright lie, the result can be devastating from both a team morale as well as a financial expense standpoint. Obviously, the best way to avoid this is to weed out the untruthful during the interview process. But how? Here are five proven ways to hone your lie-detector skills and improve your hiring results.

Their responses are vague and/or confusing.

We’ve all been there. You pose an open-ended, multifaceted question, and the candidate responds with a lot of hemming and hawing, or they speak in circles and give vague, indirect or irrelevant answers. Not only could this be a sign that the candidate didn’t adequately prepare for the interview, but it could also be a red flag that he or she isn’t being truthful. 

A candidate who doesn’t seem comfortable using industry jargon, for instance, or fails to provide specific, thoughtful answers could be exaggerating the scope of their work experience. To determine whether it’s dishonesty or simply a case of nerves, repeat the question and then ask the candidate to elaborate and/or expand on their answers.

Their body language tells a different story.

You’ve probably heard of those so-called “human lie detectors” who seem to have the innate ability – either learned or inherent – to tell when someone isn’t being truthful. A lot of how they do this is by examining and reading the other party’s body language. Experts estimate that anywhere between 60% and 90% of our communication is carried out without any words at all. This means that what your interviewee says may not actually be the full story.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be an FBI-trained profiler to identify when someone may be stretching the truth. There are certain tell-tale signs to watch for, such as fidgeting, sweating, darting the eyes or complete failure to make eye contact while answering questions. These can all be indicators that a candidate is either unsure of his or her answers or is not telling the truth. Again, these signs could also indicate nerves, so keep in mind that context matters.

They rely too heavily on team accomplishments.

Is teamwork important? Absolutely. But if your candidate can only seem to provide answers in terms of group performance, it could be a red flag that he or she isn’t capable of individual accomplishments. This one is a challenging one, because you certainly want to choose a candidate who is capable of working well with others. But, you also want someone who can take initiative and is able to carry out his or her work duties independently. 

During the interview process, be aware of the number of responses that include plural pronouns, like ‘we’ or ‘they,’ which could be an indicator that the candidate is borrowing from the experience of others. Conversely, the use of personal pronouns like ‘I,’ ‘me’ and ‘my’ are indicative of first-hand experiences. If a group accomplishment is mentioned, be sure to dig deeper by asking what specific role the candidate had in carrying out that achievement. 

They become defensive.

Sometimes a candidate will become defensive when probed about their background, skills or experience. If the interviewee gets combative or abusive, it’s obviously a telltale sign that they’re attempting to misrepresent themselves. 

Unfortunately, not all scenarios will be this cut and dry, but try to remain keenly aware of each candidate’s attitude and posture. If things get tense, or if the candidate seems to be dismissing your concerns or deflecting probing questions, there’s a good chance you’ve got a fibber on your hands. 

They can’t put their money where their mouth is.

Last, but certainly not least, it’s not uncommon for a less-than-truthful candidate that looks absolutely perfect on paper and answers all the right questions to fall short when it comes time to perform. Unfortunately, as most hiring managers have experienced at least a time or two, skills on a resume and responses to interview questions that check all the boxes don’t always translate to the real world. 

One way to determine whether a prospect is actually as skilled as they claim to be is to have them take a test. Of course, this isn’t always possible with veterinary clinic roles. In those instances, narrowing down your selection to a few finalists and asking them to participate in a paid test project, such as shadowing your team for a day or two, may help you quickly spot the fibbers and pinpoint the ones you can trust.

Hiring people for your veterinary team can be a daunting task. By knowing which signs of potential dishonesty to watch for during the interview process, you’ll be able to avoid many headaches down the road. If this process simply isn’t your game, give us a call. We can do all the dirty work for you and help you assemble a dream team of honest A-players who have the utmost integrity.

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