How to tell if Someone is Lying Using Behavioral Interview Questions

ThinkstockPhotos-186348748People lie in job interviews all the time. Wouldn’t you like to know when?

In a recent blog we stated: “The theory behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future behavior is a person’s recent past behavior in a similar situation.” Typically a behavioral question includes two parts, the question set up and the situation:

Typical Set-upsThe Situation
Describe a time….…when you had to (fill in the blank)
Tell me about….…a time when you were working at your best
Give me an example ….…of how you have approached (fill in the blank)

Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer.An example of a behavioral question is:

How to tell if someone is lying is less of an issue when you use behavioral interview questions.

When people try to lie to a behavioral interview question, their lack of experience becomes obvious when they cannot provide in-depth examples. To determine the depth of experience and get concrete examples, use the PAR technique.

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The complete behavioral answer you’re trying to uncover using a behavioral question is made up of three parts and is called PAR: Problem, Action, Result.

Problem: This is a discussion about the situation the candidate faced and the tasks involved. Fundamentally it’s the answer to the question, “What was the problem you were trying to solve in the situation I mentioned?”

Action: This is a discussion about the actions the candidate took to address the problem they faced. Here is where you will want to ask detailed questions including their specific role.

Result: The goal here is to uncover any results and accomplishments the candidate can identify, including any methods of measurement involved.

Follow up each behavioral interview question until you get PAR on every one.

To get PAR, it is important to follow your behavioral question with additional probing questions around each of these three areas, Problem, Action, and Result. Note that these follow-up questions are not necessarily behavioral because they are designed to get specific information. Here are some examples:

Problem follow-up questions:

  • Tell me about the goals or objectives of the project.
  • Be more specific about the problem you were trying to solve.
  • Describe the situation where this problem occurred.

Action follow-up questions:

  • Tell me more about your specific responsibilities on this project.
  • That sounds like a challenging problem to solve, what did you do about it?
  • Tell me more about the actions you took.

Result follow-up questions:

  • What were the results you achieved and how did you measure them?
  • Sounds like a challenging problem, what results were you able to produce?
  • What outcomes were you able to accomplish?

Experience has shown that candidates seldom give complete behavioral answers without prompting. You must listen carefully and dig for more information with follow-up questions. Sometimes a candidate will talk about the problem they faced, and you will have to ask about their actions. Most often, candidates leave out the information about the results achieved.

If you keep using your follow-up questions until you get PAR, this ensures you’re getting the truth with every candidate.

How do you tell if people are lying an interview?

MORE: The shrewd way to hire great employees

John Boring

John Boring
John Boring is president and CEO of Accelerate Mobile Apps Inc, maker of Talentron.

John Boring

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