Research states that deception is used in 14% of emails, 37% of phone calls and 27% of face-to-face interactions (Porter and ten Brinke, 2010). This poses a challenge for those whose work success depends on the sincerity of others, especially since there is no sure way guaranteed to pinpoint deception, despite many studies carried out in the area (Zuckerman, DePaulo & Rosenthal, 1981).

In a nutshell, a recruiter’s role is to match candidates with jobs in Malta that best fit their skills, experience, qualifications and personality. Typically recruiters meet job seekers at face-to-face interviews when recruiting from the local job market, although internet platforms such as Skype are frequently used, particularly when recruiting from overseas.

Due to the possibility of candidates embellishing their resumes, recruiters develop a keen reliance on other factors, in addition to verbal communication, so as to gauge whether candidates are being transparent or deceptive during interviews. Here are some techniques used by recruiters that help them spot deception:

Behavioural cues tend to leak during interviews. Recruiters take note of any incongruences between what a candidate says and what their body or face communicates. For example, a job seeker may have replied “no” to a question while nodding their head.

Candidates have to make a mental effort when describing fictional experiences in their life. They may be so focused on telling you a story that they’ve rehearsed over and over again, that they become side-tracked when the recruiter asks them a question or additional details.

Though studies are not conclusive (DePaulo & Morris, 2004) differing physiological responses have been observed in liars and those telling the truth. Researchers have made a link between lying and increased pupil size, which is a sign of heightened tension and concentration. A liar’s voice may also be higher pitched when compared to someone who is telling the truth, and research suggests that liars tend to press their lips together more frequently (Adelson, 2004).

Asking candidates for reference letters or getting in contact with a previous manager for feedback can help recruiters find out when candidates are lying. This can also serve to quell any doubts or confirm suspicions that recruiters may have about a job seeker’s past.

As recruiters become more experienced, they are able to merge their knowledge of non-verbal cues, language use and body language, and therefore become more attuned to identifying deception during interviews.

A closing word of advice for job seekers. Honesty really is the best policy when meeting potential employers. Being caught in an untruth could severely damage your chances of securing a job as well as tarnish your reputation with recruitment agencies and prospective employers. In addition, it is only by telling the truth that your interviewer can find a great match for your skills and personality.

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Reference list

Adelson, R. (2004) Psychological Sleuths. Detecting Deception. Monitor on Psychology 35 (7), 70.

DePaulo, B.M., Lindsay, J.J., James, J., Malone, B.E., Muhlenbruck, L., Charlton, K. (2003) Cues to Deception. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 74-118.

Porter, S. and ten Brinke, L. (2010), The truth about lies: What works in detecting high-stakes deception? Legal and Criminological Psychology, 15: 57–75.

Zuckerman, M., DePaulo, B.M., and Rosenthal, R. (1981). Verbal and nonverbal communication of deception. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, L.Berkowitz, Ed. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, Vol 14, 1-59.