Career Advice For Me

12 ways to spot a liar

[private]There was a recent post on Twitter from @careeradvice4me linking to a piece about 12 ways to spot a liar at work. This contained some good descriptions of the classic tell signs recruiters and other interviewers look for to spot a potential deception.  In an interview this might indicate a weak area, someone claiming credit for another’s achievements or taking an exaggeration too far. It could also be interview nerves, which is why a “baseline” for behaviour should always be established in an interview.  It is often the presence of a number of these indicators that leads experienced interviewers to dig further.  Too many of these factors means an aura of disbelief becomes pervasive.  The interview is unsuccessful, the risks are too high and the candidate is rejected.

It is really hard to capture these indicators in practice, as interviews are rarely filmed.  However the Leveson Inquiry is throwing up so much material, they become easier to spot. Take a look at a deeply uncomfortable Permanent Secretary being filmed before a Parliamentary Select Committee  days after serious questions about his Minister.

You’ll see loss of eye contact, change to blinking patterns, change to pace and tone of voice, hesitation, eyes closed, inappropriate smiles, feet shuffling, dramatic leaning back and at the end of the video two great examples of the classic mismatch between a shaking head (i.e. No) and the spoken “Yes”.  What you can see here are very good examples of many of the widely accepted behaviours described.  In an interview, at best this would certainly raise a significant number of questions for further probing.  At worst it could lead to rejection.

See how many signs you can spot and start looking out for them in key public figures.

A word of warning though.  All the scientific evidence is that if the person trying to deceive actually believes the lie, these signs are not present. People who are delusional don’t show the signs.  This could explain how some people get into senior roles! You can decide which politicians and media moguls this might describe.

What does this mean for job hunters? Practice deception, become delusional or, and this is our best advice, don’t lie.