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Honesty in Interviewing: Three Ways to Know If a Candidate is Being Dishonest

Everyone wants to make a positive impression in an interview. Unfortunately, the desire to do so can cause some candidates to embellish and exaggerate their qualifications. The importance of truthfulness is accentuated as professionals in Higher Education. We teach it to our students, and we must seek it from our job candidates. We have three tips for discerning if candidates are exhibiting interview jitters or flat-out falsehoods.

1. Ask for specifics. Whether you are wondering about a candidate's ability to work with a team, track record on projects, or experience with certain software, asking them to give concrete examples is the best way to truly understand what kind of employee they are. Candidates will often have one anecdote prepared, so asking for an additional example can give you a realistic sense of their performance.

2. Trust your team. One of the strengths of having multiple interviewers is that you have a variety of perspectives that help you recognize when something seems off. If one of the members of your committee has reservations, it’s a sure sign that you should probe deeper.

3. Rely on references. Candidates can say anything in an interview. Their references substantiate and fill out the picture. Pay attention to what references don’t say in addition to what they share. Are they hesitant to discuss some aspect of a candidate's performance? Do they offer vague praise or are they able to discuss particular experiences?