I have dedicated the past 16+ years to building skills and knowledge to share with people who have a passion for developing their ability to conduct better interviews. This extends to security-based interviews such as investigations and vetting, recruitment interviews, law enforcement investigations, workplace enquiries, management issues and business interviews across a range of industries.
My interest in interviewing kicked off when I was a police constable many years ago and I observed a significant variation in styles and the degree of success for each method. After moving into the corporate world I recognised that people, in many roles, were tasked with the responsibility for conducting interviews but they had been given little or no training on how to do it well. Sure, people could ‘wing it’ or get through the process of asking questions and getting answers, but that can fall a long way short of obtaining the information required.
Developing and teaching programs that help people build skills in conducting better interviews has been very rewarding. To see someone, after a few days of training, acting more confidently to build better connections, knowing how to encourage more truth, asking better questions and identifying signs of deception stress, gives me great pleasure. I pour everything I can into each course and I always learn something new from participants. I get a buzz when I hear back from people after a course and the tell me ‘guess what, I did what you suggested and it worked!”
Recently, I’ve been spending more time learning, developing and teaching methods to attract and encourage more truth in interviews and communication. My thinking is that although everyone would like to be wizards at spotting signs of deception, it make sense to also do everything in your power to increase the likelihood that people are going to give you the truth before you focus on spotting the lies.
I suggest to people, “Become a truth-attractor before a lie spotter and you will have less lies to spot.”
The 3 shady characters in the image above represent the mindsets of 3 people you might interview. I call them Truthy, Fency and Deceptive. You need to understand that a person can jump into any mindset at any time so this is not about pigeonholing someone and believing that, if at one point they are Truthy, this is how they will always stay.
TRUTHY mindset is honest and cooperative and their intent is to answer questions or provide information in a helpful or accurate manner.
FENCY mindset, as the name suggests, is someone who is ‘sitting on the fence’. This means, although they have not necessarily chosen to lie, yet, they will decide how honest they will be along the way. They will weigh up what is at stake and make judgements about what you know and your ability. There are many other factors that contribute to decisions to jump fence into either the truth side or the deceptive side and there are ways to increase the chance that they will jump in the preferred direction.
DECEPTIVE mindset has already chosen to not be truthful with you about something. Can you change this? Not always, but sometimes. I can certainly show you ways to improve your chances of getting truth, even from these people.
3 ways to help to encourage more truth in the interviews you conduct
1. Consider the likely MINDSET of the person you are interviewing
Think about why they might lie and what their motivation might be. Being equipped with an understanding of their mindset can help you to develop a strategy to influence them from the start. Although you can break the motivation of lying into 10 parts, put simply, people will lie to either avoid a pain or make a gain.
2. Create a KNOWLEDGE BELIEF
This means building into your introduction, preamble or conversation something that signals to them that you already know something (or a lot) about them, or that you are likely or capable of discovering it. Like all influencing tools there is a right and wrong way to go about this.
3. Ask for HONESTY
You want me to just ask them for honesty? Yes I do and this is not as crazy as it sounds. Knowing how to build in a commitment to honesty can make all the difference to how the interview unfolds. Some interviewers are initially unsure how to do this, but when you know how, you will never conduct another interview without doing it! Very powerful.
So how does this make lying more difficult?
1. With a better insight into a person's MOTIVATION to hold back truth in your interviews you can look for leverage. What is their motivation for lying and what is their motivation for telling the truth? Once you have considered these, you may be able to weave elements into the initial stage of the interview so they almost feel you are a mind reader. You can also connect with them better and when connection and trust is built, it can impact on the motivation to lie.
2. Planting a seed that you KNOW MORE than they thought or that you can, or will, find out the truth can cause a person to question their decision to tell a lie. It often happens subconsciously where a little voice in their head thinks ‘well, he or she is going to find out anyway, so I may as well just say it’. Be careful not to bluff or pretend because you could easily come unstuck. There are ways to do this that can help achieve your goals. Using a knowledge belief can often be the thing that tips Fency across into Truthy zone.
3. When someone has given you their word that they will be HONEST in their responses or through the interview process, it makes it more difficult for them to lie. Not only do they have to think about and tell the lie, but they also have to go against their word and their commitment. A double whammy. And once you know what to look for and how to spot subtle signs of behavioural stress, you will have increased your chances of getting more truth and spotting deception when it occurs.
Of course, as with any technique, there’s more to it than knowing these tips at surface level. Getting the techniques right for your type of interview can take a bit more work, but, trust me, they do work. I can teach you more than 30 ways to encourage more truth in the interviews you conduct.
More truth from the start - does that seem like a better plan than just relying on spotting harmful deception along the way?
If you are in a role where you are responsible for conducting interviews of any shape or size, consider getting in touch and I can talk to you about the programs we run. We have group sessions, in-house courses and coaching programs, all designed to make you a better, more confident and more effective interviewer. Even the most experienced interviewers come out of our programs keen to put new tools or ideas into action.
I would love to hear about your challenges conducting interviews and any favourite tips you use to fast-track your success and get the accurate information you require.