7 Ways to Spot When Someone is Lying During an Interview

July 5th, 2019

Is your candidate blowing smoke or trying to sell you on skills, talents and a work ethic that aren’t quite what they seem? If you think you may be hearing a lot of sizzle but not seeing any steak, here are a few ways to confirm your hunch and move forward.

Implausibility plus urgency

Implausibility alone isn’t necessarily a sign of lying. Plenty of candidates have accomplishments that seem unusual or career-growth timelines that seem very short (personal assistant to senior manager in just five years?) and over-the-top claims are true more often than you might think. Urgency, a desperate demeanor or a rapid, aggressive speech pattern are also not signs of trouble on their own. But if you see all these things at the same time, the claims in question deserve a closer look.

Vague statements with no follow-up

“I led the entire team on that proposal” is a claim that sounds excellent. But then what happened? What were the circumstances? Did the candidate face any special challenges or learn any interesting lessons during that episode? If the claim appears to stand alone and getting more information feels like pulling teeth, something may be wrong.

A seemingly perfect track record or an unwillingness to recognize failure.

Strong candidates embrace their failures and understand how these episodes brought them where they are today. Questionable candidates claim to have unblemished records and see failure as something that only happens to losers—something that has never, ever happened to them. Ironically, “perfection” is a huge red flag.


Feel free to ask questions if you hear claims, timelines or statements that conflict with others you heard earlier.

A one-sided dialogue.

Conversations always feel a bit suspect when the words flow in only one direction. If your candidate can’t change his setting from “transmit” to “receive” and you feel like you’ve been cornered by a relentless guest at a bad party, you may be on the receiving end of misinformation. Does he ever ask you any questions? Does he wait for your answer? Does he really understand and listen to your words as you speak? Or does he seem to be on stage performing a one-man show? Performers, bad conversationalists, and con artists often have one thing in common: issues with believability.


Don’t trust candidates who show anger or poor emotional control during a job interview.

Thin or ambivalent references

Be suspicious if your candidate offers few references, unreachable references, no references or references who give neutral, unenthusiastic support.

For more on how to get the most out of your candidate interviews and select only the best employees for your team, turn to the pros at PSU.

First Interview: Here’s How to Prepare

November 18th, 2016

If you’re like most first time job seekers and recent graduates, you’re probably dealing with some stress and anxiety during the days leading up to your first interview. But as you’ve probably learned during your days in the classroom, the best treatment for this kind of stress is simple: preparation. Here are a few moves that can help you gain a sense of control over the process and consequently help you sleep better at night. As you probably know, a good night of sleep will help you look, feel and perform better when you’re sitting in the interview seat!

Have polished answers to predictable questions.

While some of the questions you face may come out of nowhere, there are a few tried and true interview queries that make an appearance in almost every session, across every industry. These include: “Why do you want this job?”, “What can you bring to this position that no other candidate can?” and “What are your greatest strengths?” If you have flawless answers in mind for each of these, you’re halfway home.

Get ready for curveballs.

When you hear a question that you didn’t plan for and can’t possible expect, don’t lose your cool. Just take a deep breath (in and out for two full seconds). Then speak slowly as you provide your response. Don’t trip over yourself. You’re in no rush, and your interviewer has nothing else scheduled during this particular hour. Take your time and explain yourself clearly.

Practice, practice, practice.

The more time you spend practicing for your session with a mirror, a pet, or a friend, the more focused you’ll be when your moment arrives. Everything is easier when it feels familiar.

Think of your interviewer as a friend and a human being.

Ease your nervous jitters by keeping this moment in perspective. Your interviewer is not an authority figure, and he or she doesn’t have the ability to judge your core character or hold power over your destiny. You’re just two adults trying to assess your potential as a match. It’s kind of like dating; you’re just here to get to know each other, and you both have an equal amount to gain or lose.

Write things down.

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget some of the details and information your employer may share during your session. And though it’s perfectly common, it’s still embarrassing to ask a question about something your interviewer already explained. So take notes. Writing things down can keep you on track, and it shows that you’re listening and interested.

For more guidelines that can help you ace your interview and land the job you need, reach out to the Cleveland County staffing and career management team at PSU.

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Fired? How to Discuss This in Your Interview

June 26th, 2015

During almost every interview session, for any position in any industry, one question will be more or less inevitable: “Tell me more about your last job.” Most employers will start with a few pleasantries and general questions about your goals and intentions, and then move immediately into a discussion of what you’ve done in the past. And since your last job provides a perfect launch point for this conversation, you’ll need to discuss your most recent position in a way that’s positive and meaningful. But what if your last job didn’t go very well at all? And what if you left under circumstances that are difficult to portray in a glowing light? Here are a few ways to deal with this question if you were fired or dismissed involuntarily.

Don’t Bring it Up

The most important rule is simple: don’t offer this information or initiate this conversation unless you’re asked. It may seem like a gesture of honesty to jump in front of this issue and voluntarily blurt out that you were fired from your last job, but this move is more likely to harm your chances than help you. Give yourself room to grow and change as a person. If given the chance to do so, leave the past where it belongs: behind you.

If Asked, Answer Briefly

If your interviewer wants to know the circumstances of your exit, keep your response honest, clear, positive, and above all, short. Practice an answer that can be delivered in ten words or fewer. Stay positive. According to HR experts, the most valuable word you can use under these circumstances will be the word “fit”, as in: “the job was not an ideal fit”, or “the company and I were not a fit.”

Take Responsibility, Within Limits

If your interviewer probes for more detail, you can briefly explain the philosophical or personality mismatches that pushed you out the door. But frame your departure in terms of a misalignment, not as a personal shortcoming on your part. Don’t make excuses, but at the same time, don’t take on a full burden of blame that isn’t yours to bear.

A Layoff is Not a Firing

Most responsible employers recognize that layoffs and job loss due to restructuring are not the fault of the employee, and that almost every employee experiences at least one or two involuntary job losses during his or her career. Performance-based or disciplinary firings are another matter, but wise managers and interviewers can easily understand the difference.

For more on how to move past this detail and keep the conversation focused on your skills and credentials, contact the staffing team at PSU.


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