You are sitting opposite someone you are interviewing to fill a vacancy and you want to dig a bit deeper to find the truth. There are many ways of doing this, here are a few quick and easy techniques which start low-key and end with a direct challenge;
- Body language - they shift in their seat as they speak, have a forced smile, won't look you in the eye or hold your gaze for too long, they stutter or falter, a facial micro-expression, have a hand over their mouth, a rub of the nose, or perhaps you just have a 'feeling' that what has been said is not quite right. (Words come from the left side of the brain, body language from the right. Hence, there are indicators if the two don't match).
- Focus on the lie - leave a slight pause before saying "If I have heard you correctly....", then paraphrase their lie. (We don't like our lie told back to us.) If they lie again - leave a longer pause this time (silence is golden as they say) then say "This is important, can you go back over that and this time I will take some notes". This will trap most liars.
- Drill down on the lie using their ego - ask them lots of questions around the finer details of what they have told you. All the time you are playing to their ego by saying things like "Wow, that's amazing" or "That's fantastic" or "I could never have done that". Keep asking open-ended questions to encourage them to talk, the more they do the braver they get and the bigger the lie until eventually it will become obvious that what they have told you is untrue.
- Probing questions - similar to the last technique, this time you drill down into the minutia by asking for the smallest of detail starting with an open question and ending with a closed one. "You said before that you were responsible for...., tell me more about the steps that you took". Keep drilling down like this and ask for as much detail as possible. Then ask your closed questions. Eventually you will know if it is truthful.
- Challenging questions - this technique is used when it is evident that the person has lied. Start by asking questions in a non-confrontational way and end with a direct question. "That sounds almost too good to be true", "I can't believe something like that could happen", "Did you actually do that?", "That seems a bit far-fetched doesn't it", and end with "Are you being honest?"
- Supporting their lie - Now it is time to ask them for supporting evidence. Is there someone else who can verify what they have told you, is there a document trail, perhaps some media. You might even say "Can I confirm this with your ex-employer, your referee or someone who worked with you?"
By far, the majority of us are honest during an interview because we value our honesty and may have a fear of being caught out. However, most people exaggerate and that is not a lie, it's an embellishment!