December 7, 2023

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How to detect dishonesty when conducting job interviews

How to detect dishonesty when conducting job interviews

When job openings are high and unemployment is low, finding the right person for the job can become a big challenge. A recent scam is now making things even harder on businesses, especially when hiring remote workers. Watch out for job candidates who aren’t who they pretend to be.

How the scam works

You set up a virtual interview with a potential job candidate whose skill set matches your opening. As you conduct the interview, you are impressed by the person’s clear understanding of all the technical aspects of the position.

However, during a follow-up interview – or even after they start the job – the potential hire starts to seem a little “off.”  For example, the person’s appearance or voice may seem different from their first interview. The candidate may also be unable to answer technical questions that they previously appeared to know. 

What’s going on here? This job candidate is trying to con their way into a position they know little or nothing about.

With more businesses going remote, employers need to watch out for interview scams. Job candidates can hire someone to complete an initial interview, do a technical exercise, or simply be nearby to feed them answers. If you don’t spot the lie during the interview process, you may hire a new employee who is totally unequipped for the job.

How to spot a dishonest job candidate

  • Prepare your questions ahead of time. Don’t wing it during a job interview. Prepare your questions before the interview, keeping the things you need to know about the candidate in mind. The Society for Human Resource Management recommends preparing open-ended questions rather than very specific ones to encourage interviewees to provide longer answers and expand on their skills and knowledge. Prepare a few follow up questions you can use if the person’s answer is too short or vague.
  • Watch out for rehearsed responses. Look up your interview questions on interview preparation websites to find out what sample answers people might be rehearsing. That will help you recognize a canned response. Still, just because a candidate rehearsed their response doesn’t necessarily mean they are being untruthful. You may simply need to ask additional questions until they give a response that sounds sincere and thoughtful.
  • Carefully assess the candidate’s skills. When hiring for a very technical position, ask the candidate to perform a technical exercise. If the candidate is successful, ask them to explain how they resolved the exercise in a follow-up interview. If a person has a skill on their CV you’d like to confirm, ask for specific examples. For example, if they claim to be an Excel expert, ask them what the most complex thing they’ve done in Excel is.
  • Conduct a follow-up interview. Take notes during the initial interview and then schedule at least one follow-up interview, especially if you are hiring for a remote position. At the second interview, inconsistencies will likely come to light.
  • Watch the candidate’s body language. You don’t have to put someone on a polygraph machine to know if they are lying. According to Fast Company, fidgeting and avoiding eye contact can all indicate a person is unsure about their answers.
  • Look out for other red flags. Other signs that a job candidate may not have been very truthful on their application include vague answers, answers unrelated to your questions, a defensive or angry attitude, or putting more emphasis on group accomplishments than personal accomplishments. Keep an eye out for these red flags.

For more information

For more tips to help you as a business owner, visit BBB’s Business Resources page and BBB’s Business HQ. Also, read about the top 10 scams targeting small businesses. 

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it at BBB Scam Tracker to help boost awarness about the con.

Stay one step ahead of scammers by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alert emails