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How can you improve a candidate's honesty in an interview?

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Does using 2 recruiters get more honest candidates?

Countless research studies have shown that using two interviewers when running a recruitment interview improves the chances of recruiting the right person for the job.

However, in these austere times, the classic interview scenario more often than not typically involves only one interviewer and one interviewee and often can be carried out either online or over the phone, rather than face to face.

Can one interviewer really do the job of two?

Recent research looked at the importance of using two interviewers rather than one for detecting honesty and provides further support for interviewers using their EQ when interviewing.

The Research
Samantha Mann and her fellow researchers at the Psychology Department, University of Portsmouth, examined the effect that a second 'note-taking' interviewer's demeanour would have on the behaviour and importantly the honesty of the answers given by interviewees.

Over 100 participants were given three days to prepare for a job interview. They were separated into two groups, with one group being asked to answer the interview questions truthfully about a job that they actually had, while the second group was instructed to lie about a fictional job during the interview.

Each participant was interviewed by two interviewers. One interviewer would ask questions about each participant's job in a neutral, non-emotive way while the other would take notes.

The important change between groups was the reaction of the note-taking interviewer who would respond to interviewees' answers either in a positive way by nodding and smiling, a neutral way, or a negative way by frowning and treating the interviewees' answers with suspicion.

The Results
The results were surprising. Whilst it would be expected that those participants who were telling the truth would be able to provide more details about their job, they were only provoked to do this when the note-taking interviewer took a sympathetic and positive attitude to their answers.

Also, the participants who were asked to lie gave increasingly negative descriptions of their fictional bosses, but only when the note-taking interviewer appeared supportive of their statements.

Mann and her colleagues also expected that those participants who lied would look more often at the note-taking interviewer, but this did not occur, whilst the liars seemed to use longer eye contact than the truth tellers.

The results suggest that a supportive and relaxed interviewing technique will actually help interviewees provide more detail than a restrictive and aggressive interview environment.

They also suggest that traditional ideas about how to detect if a candidate is being honest (such as candidates avoiding eye contact) may not be effective and other indicators were likely to be more predictive.

The EBW View

The bottom line here is that having a second interviewer increases the chances of making the right recruitment decision, but recruiters who have to interview on their own need to understand their impact and use their Business Emotional Intelligence to ensure they get good quality and honesty in the answers given by interviewees.

This research suggests it is not the amount of recruiters you have interviewing the candidates but how much they are able to use their Emotional Intelligence to effectively interview their candidates.

Effective interviewing is about drawing on your EQ so you can understand the interviewee’s perspective and not only assess their competence, but how honest the interviewee is being when responding to interview questions.

The EBW Global Emotional Intelligence System with its recruitment interviewing reports and impression management tool (IMT) is uniquely placed to help interviewers understand their interviewee and assess their competence. The IMT measures how good an impression an interviewee is trying to give, how accurate they are being with their answers, and how honest they are being with themselves.

Whilst we would recommend using two interviewers when making recruitment decisions we recognise in these economic times this is not always possible, so the EBW System provides an assessment and a methodology to make best use of the interviewer.

It provides a benchmark of Business Emotional Intelligence during the recruitment process allowing any interviewer who uses the EBW system to get under the skin of the candidate to better evaluate their suitability for a specific role.

Samantha Mann, Aldert Vrij, Dominic J. Shaw, Sharon Leal, Sarah Ewens, Jackie Hillman, Par Anders Granhag, Ronald P. Fisher (2013). Two heads are better than one? How to effectively use two interviewers to elicit cues to deception. Legal and Criminological Psychology DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8333.2012.02055.x