Interview truth Ellis Fox Blog

How to get the real truth in interviews

Everyone wants to put their best foot forward in an interview, create a good impression and give the right answers. But at the same time there’s always the fear that being too honest may not get them the job, especially if they didn’t leave their company on good terms. So sometimes they fib a little, other times they fib a lot.

Police interrogators use a strategy that asks the same question several times in several ways. If the person is telling the truth, then generally the answers will match up regardless of how the question is phased. In an interview people are generally prepared for one or two difficult questions, but they may not be prepared for a follow up or second question on the same subject.

If you think that there is more to the answer than is being revealed, here are five simple ways you can get clarification:

  1. Be clear on the value of honesty and why that is important. Sometimes people will say things because they think it’s what you want to hear, and that if they tell the truth it’ll disqualify them.
  2. Watch their body language as they answer questions, if it suddenly changes, it could be an indication that they’re not comfortable with the question.
  3. Ask the question a second or third time during the course of the interview, phrasing it slightly differently each time. Make notes of their answers so that you can check if they match up with what they first told you.
  4. If they’re bragging about their influence on the success of a project, ask for more specific details. For example: How many people were in the team and what were their roles? You can also ask for specific figures. Someone who was genuinely responsible for a project will know them.
  5. Ask a follow up question: e.g. If the reason given for leaving is that they were declined a promotion and felt they would rather look for a new opportunity elsewhere, you could ask something like this: “If that hadn’t happened would you still be with the company?

As an employer you want to be able to get the real story so that you can make a true evaluation based on all the facts, not just half of them. So don’t be shy about asking questions until you’re satisfied that you have the full picture.