“Why do you want to leave your current job?” As Lori begins to answer the interview question posed by her potential manager, tiny red blotches begin to spread across Lori’s neck and chest. As Lori relays her story about how she is bored on the job and sees no room for advancement, the blotches continue to brighten. Lori begins to fidget in her seat, the interviewer notices the blotches and both sense that “something that is not quite right.” Lori leaves the interview with feelings of despair and anger about not being able to “mask” her true reasons for leaving her current job. The hiring manager doesn’t believe that Lori is being forthright about her career history and decides not to bring her in for a second interview. Why, after countless advice and articles about being honest in interviews, do people continue to mask the truth?
People lie during interviews for lots of reasons. Some people feel that their “true” qualifications won’t entice potential employers and allow them to make the final cut so they fabricate little white lies during the interview. Others believe the lies are more interesting than the truth and will lead to an offer. Many others lie because they don’t have all of the qualifications or skills to fill the particular requirements of a job. More often than not, employers can sense when you are lying. Below are ten signs that might give away that you are lying in the interview.
10 Signs of Lying
Interviewing is probably one of the least favorite things that people have to do. Interviewing is difficult. You have to sell yourself by boasting about your achievements, experiences and results. You have to persuade a potential employer that you are the best candidate for the job. As the interviewee, you only have one shot to market and position your qualifications better than the competition and move one step closer to an offer. So, how do employers know when you’re lying and not just nervous? Spotting a liar is difficult because it depends on the interviewee’s personality, adeptness at lying, level of guilt, and more. The five most obvious signs include:
- Eye Contact – Unwillingness to make eye contact with the interviewer or staring for long periods of time at the wall, out a nearby window, or at objects on the interviewer’s desk.
- Hives – Turning red and blotchy in the face, neck and chest area when responding to a challenging question.
- Forgetfulness – Not being able to remember or discuss specific achievements, experiences, or projects in your resume.
- Stuttering – Stumbling over your career history or losing your train of thought frequently.
- Hand Wringing – Excessive fiddling, rubbing, and playing with the fingers and hands while taking about your background and expertise.
Other, more subtle signs include:
- Formalized Stories – Use of over-scripted stories rather than natural conversation.
- Rigid or Excessive Body Posture – If you are not using any hand/arm gestures or way too much gesturing, you are probably uncomfortable with your own story.
- Justification – Attempting to justify every experience, skill, or project with lengthy explanations.
- Disparity – Mismatch between tone of voice and expression. Employers often look for how interviewees “shrug” off important details.
- Expanded Contractions – Stressing full-form verbs, such as “did not” and “could not,” to convince the employer that you are speaking the truth. Lying interviewees add bold, over-stated emphasis on the expanded contractions. (think of former President Clinton in his Monica Lewinsky testimony).
Lying during the interview process may get you one step closer to a job, but doing it almost always ends up with a negative outcome. Be prepared for difficult interview questions and provide the best, truthful answer you can rather than exaggerate or lie.
Experts indicate that countless people are hired for skill and fired for fit. I wonder if countless people are hired based on lies that were told during the interview process and fired because they failed to meet the expectations of the job. If you are one of the lucky ones to get placed in a job because you exaggerated the truth, then more power to you. I hope that you don’t spend every waking minute with guilt and worrying about being able to perform your job with excellence. I suggest that if you are fibbing during the interview process, you find a way to tell the truth. Living life authentically is better than living life with a cloud hanging over your head. If you are an employer responsible for hiring great talent for your company, don’t underestimate the potential of lying during an interview. Do your best to ask tough questions and then validate those answers with background checks.