How to Really Get to Know Your Candidates

Marcianne Kuethen
August 21, 2017

Do you ever wish you could strap your candidates to a lie detector during an interview? Sometimes, as employers, you wonder how to really get to know your candidates. Unfortunately, they don’t always tell the truth, which is why at Amtec, we work extra hard to verify their information both by asking lots of questions and doing our due diligence in conducting reference/background checks. Sometimes, the truth comes out in unusual ways…like the phone going dead as it did for one candidate recently in the middle of an interview.

A True Story About Lies

One of our recruiters, Jason, had a candidate–let’s call her Katie–who was scheduled for a phone interview with an employer. During her phone interview, the phone suddenly went dead. The employer tried to call Katie back and, when there was no answer, notified our recruiter. Concerned, he also tried to call and text, but received no response for several days. Finally, Katie’s boyfriend called to say that Katie had had a seizure and would be okay. When Katie called back a few days later, she told Jason that she’d had to relocate because of having a rare blood disease. Now living out of state with her parents near a hospital that could treat the disease, Katie said she’d still be interested in the job if the employer were to pay for relocation costs.

Out of concern and curiosity, our recruiters went on Facebook just to see how Katie was doing. To their surprise, the message Katie had sent to her friends was not one of despair or disease. It was a celebratory notification that she had finally succeeded in getting out of California and was happy to start a new chapter of her life! It’s no surprise that when Jason called her and shared what he had seen, Katie was embarrassed and no longer wanted to work with us or our client.

A Trustworthiness Test

It’s unfortunate when candidates choose to lie or exaggerate, and many do so either on their resume or in person, according to Eric Barton of BBC.com.  Forming your impression of someone solely based on how he or she answers your questions isn’t foolproof or scientific. The challenge in your hiring process is how to really get to know your candidates and uncover any lies before actually hiring them to work alongside your team.

Barton shares that one man, David Shulman, created a test that can tell employers how trustworthy a potential employee really is. Shulman’s company, Veris Benchmarks, offers “a fast, easy, and objective way to measure a prospective employee’s level of trustworthiness.” Developed by behavioral and psychometric scientists, the test compares people’s responses against those of white-collar criminals.

If you don’t trust first impressions or test results, suggests Barton, you could try to catch your candidates in a lie just to see how they respond, as the VP of a money transfer company does. Once he gets candidates to admit that they’re not really passionate about money transfers, the real conversation about why they’re actually applying can open up.

A Proven Method

But most of us need a more straightforward method than that. Fortunately, there is a proven method called behavioral interviewing that, while not entirely foolproof, really can help you get an accurate picture of who your candidate is. It’s based on the premise that a person’s past performance is the best predictor of future behavior. Asking open-ended questions that begin with, “Tell me about a time when…”, an interviewer can avoid giving away the answer he or she wants to hear, and avoid receiving hypothetical answers that don’t reveal how the candidate is truly likely to behave. (For more information on how to conduct behavioral interviews, click here.)

Would behavioral interviewing have uncovered Katie’s lies in the true story above? It’s highly likely, had the employer’s interviews progressed as intended, that behavioral interview questions would’ve revealed inconsistencies and attitudes that the hiring manager would have seen as red flags.

Are you about to interview a candidate? If you want to know how to really get to know your candidates, you could try testing them, trapping them, or simply asking them behavioral interview questions. You may not be a human lie detector, but with a little practice, the right set of questions, and a scorecard to track results, you can conduct a more revealing candidate search.

Do you need help acquiring top contract or direct hire professionals whom you can trust? Let Amtec find you the best candidates, set you up to successfully interview them, and assist with offer negotiations, reference checks, and background checks. Click here or call (714) 993-1900 to start your search.

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