It happens all of the time- that new hire who sounded so impressive during their interview is struggling in the position you hired them for. So much so that you are beginning to second guess the validity of the qualifications and skills that they boasted about during their interview. Unfortunately, even the most qualified candidates are apt to exaggerate on a resume or during an interview in the hopes of landing the job that they want. In fact, social psychologist, Ron Friedman, reports that 81% of people lie during their job interviews. While this statistic may seem shocking, keep in mind that lies come in varying degrees from being dishonest about why they are unemployed to their previous work experience. As any false information given during the hiring process regarding a candidate’s ability to perform can come back to impact your company, it is necessary to brush up on your personal lie detecting skills.

If you want to avoid making a bad hire based on lies, use the following as a refresher on the signs and signals that a candidate is straying from the truth during their interview.

Body Language

Early on in the interview, determine what the candidate’s body language baseline is. Use simple introductory questions and small talk to gauge their movements when asked questions that should not require any embellishment. You may notice that they have certain ticks regardless of the line of questioning; however, as you get to the more difficult questions, you should take notice of topics that cause them to suddenly start fidgeting, cracking their knuckles or indulging in any other type of movement indicative of someone who is uncomfortable.

Eye contact

We can all agree that prolonged eye contact with anyone is uncomfortable, making it hard to detect a lie based purely on how well a candidate is able to meet your gaze. After all, isn’t looking around natural in a new setting (especially if you are hoping to work there)? What should cause concern is if eye contact inexplicably changes with certain questions.


In addition to observing any inconsistencies in body language and eye contact, listen for inconsistencies in their verbal responses. Are their dates not matching up with the dates on their resume? Are they consistent in the reason why they left their last job? Are they recycling the same situational examples but changing small details to fit the question? When you notice an inconsistency, make sure to ask clarifying questions to decipher what is real and what is an exaggeration.


When you ask a straightforward question, in general you expect a straightforward response in return. If a candidate is burying the original question beneath an over abundance of unnecessary details, or if they completely go off topic, redirect them back to the original question. Overcompensating, over explaining or losing sight of the question altogether can typically be traced to a candidate’s underlying uncertainty or trying to tell you what they think you want to hear rather than the truth.

Vague Responses

On the flip side, if a candidate is not able to provide you with specific details or describe situational experiences, they may lack the experience necessary to answer the question truthfully. When asked a question, candidates should answer with pronouns like “me” and “I” that place them in their answer. They should also be able to tell you specific times instead of “frequently” or “sometimes”. Generalities are almost always a sign that the candidate is grasping to answer a question that they may not have an actual answer for. In general, situational questions should receive a S.T.A.R. response (Situation, Task, Action, and Result).

Knowing that most candidates will lie to you at some point during the interview process, it is important to know when a potential employee is drifting too far away from the truth. By detecting lies early on, you can avoid putting a candidate in a position that they are ill-equipped for as well as save your company the high cost of a bad hire.