Interviews: How to Identify a Deceptive Job Candidate

Topic(s): Faking, interviewing
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: Honest and deceptive impression management in the employment interview: can it be detected and how does it impact evaluation?
Authors: N. Roulin, A. Bangerter, J. Levashina
Reviewed by: Rachel Williamson

Almost every company has to go through some type of interviewing process in order to select which applicant they will hire.

But applicants frequently use a deceptive type of impression management, which can lead to organizations hiring the wrong person for the job. This can be a serious issue for companies if they hire a deceptive applicant whose work does not match up with the way they performed in their interview.

Companies cannot hope to completely stop applicants from using deception impression management in interviews. But organizations can try to alleviate the problem by selecting interviewers capable of detecting when an applicant is being deceptive.

A NEW APPROACH TO STUDYING IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT

In past research, most studies on this topic looked at impression management from a second-hand account, through self-report of the applicant.

The current study directly examines actual employment interviews using the technology of real-time coding via video.

This is the first study to examine deceptive job candidates from a company’s perspective, rather than how the candidate views their deception.

 

THE PROBLEM WITH IDENTIFYING A DECEPTIVE JOB CANDIDATE

While at first one might think it would be easy to spot a deceptive job candidate, the truth is that it’s a lot more difficult than we imagine.

Recognizing when a candidate is being deceptive takes considerably more effort than detecting when a candidate is being truthful. Not only that, but the interviewer in typically more focused on representing their organization well during the interview, which makes identifying any deceptive behavior by the applicant even more difficult.

In a separate study, researchers found that companies frequently miss a candidate’s deception, and hire up to 31% of all deceptive candidates interviewed. In other words, interviewers are rarely successful at identifying a deceptive candidate.

 

THE BIG PICTURE TAKEAWAYS

Overall, this study suggests that interviewers are more successful at detecting honest impression management, but often cannot detect deceptive impression management effectively. Specific, situational-phrased questions during the interview resulted in correctly recognizing a larger number of IM tactics.

If nothing else, companies should create some type of awareness among their interviewers that this sort of deception exists. This can help increase their suspicion when interviewing, which ideally would also increase detection percentages.

If possible, organizations should create and implement their own IM tactic training in order to improve their selection of the best applicant. Putting this in place could only benefit the organization and its selection procedures.