First It's Writing, Now Faces: Enough Is Enough!

I am going to take a short break form my series on lesser known sites to source from, to address …well something that is pretty silly. 

So first we have a company who is telling us they can tell if someone fits our core values by the way they write their, resumes, blogs, and linkedin profiles. Now there is a company saying they can tell what a persons traits are by their face.

In other words your face will be able to tell if your honest, passionate, trustworthy, hard working, loyal,  etc. Now I am not naming any names, but these companies are way off base.  

First off lets take the writing one. A few things that make this unlikely is they are making several assumptions. First they assume you wrote your own resume, which is not always the case. In fact you cannot even guarantee that a person put together their own LinkedIn profile anymore. Second they are not taking into account that a person’s mood will impact the way the write. I actually had them do an analysis of my resume, my Linkedin Profile and my blog posts. I was amazed at the difference, and I write all my own stuff. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 meaning they are a perfect fit for a companies core values, and comparing my writing to my companies core values I was a 9 based on my Resume a 7 based on linkedin, and a 5 based on my blogs. Now keep in mind this is a simplistic version of what happens, they actually rate you on each value and then over all. However despite that, how in the heck can you take something seriously when the differences are that big, despite all the writings they analyzed were written by me. Answers simple you cannot, and you should not. 

Now this new thing, facial patterns to determine core values. Lets get real there is no way you can tell if someone in honest, hard working, determined or just about any core value or trait form their face, at least not with any real accuracy.  A study done by and published in 2008 in the Oxford Journals by several experts specifically states that “the relatively poor discrimination between trustworthy- and untrustworthy-looking faces”, this means it is really hard to tell the difference between a trustworthy face and an untrustworthy face. Yet there is a company, again no names, that is saying they can. 

In my opinion these two supposed tools, have major flaws and you would have a better chance of using a crystal ball to get these answers than relying on either facial patterns or writing styles to determine the core values or fit of a candidate.

Views: 677

Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 1, 2014 at 12:21am
I have a not unique talent also. I can tell when people are nuts by what they write.
Comment by Dean Da Costa on April 1, 2014 at 12:53am

Paul for one I have already written a blog about tells and body language. Two your not Copernicus, and for every Copernicus there is a 100 Beckers. Do not know who he is? Of course not, my point exactly

Comment by PAUL FOREL on April 1, 2014 at 2:03am


Um, I was suggesting your position here is similar to that of Copernicus. He also was confused about reality.

Look, you started this blog by saying it is about something you don't believe exists.

That you don't believe in the ability to consistently make good calls by only looking at someone does not mean the ability does not exist; you just don't know anyone personally/professionally who can do this.

All I said is that I am someone who can. And where there is one, there are more, regardless of their/our being in the minority.

I even suggested a 'test', but you only want to blog, you don't want to test.

Let's let it go at that, especially since you don't want to be challenged.

The same offer is open to you, Sandra. Throwing rocks isn't going to make this go away.



Comment by PAUL FOREL on April 1, 2014 at 3:08am


Let's dial this a step back and then forward again and oh, by the way, none of this will make you believers but does better describe where I'm coming from:

I'll start with a random pick of a definition of 'Core Values':


"Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. The core values are the guiding principles that dictate behavior and action.

Core values can help people to know what is right from wrong; they can help companies to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their business goals; and they create an unwavering and unchanging guide. There are many different types of core values and many different examples of core values depending upon the context."

Let's work with this part:

"Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. The core values are the guiding principles that dictate behavior and action."

1.  What I do is 'see' from a face or picture of a person's face what their character is about. Like I said, I'm in the ninety percentile correct with this.

2.  From this I can anticipate -correctly, almost every time- what that person's behavior and actions are likely to be in a given scenario. This is to my benefit- to be able to anticipate people given a set of conditions. This is what I'm particularly good at and it is at this point where I determine whether a candidate is either in or out.

3.  And from that I can correctly assess what that person's 'core values' are likely to be although, as a practical matter, the first two parts of this equation is what gets candidates either accepted or scratched. Putting a label on their core values at that point is mostly a formality and can even be considered overkill.

So, I was not accurate when I said I can 'see' what a person's core values are since in fact I deduce this from the evidence of what I see on their face telling me what their character is and what their behavior and actions are likely to be.

So, for me, 'knowing' what someone's core values are is based on the 'evidence' of what I see when I look at someone.

As a practical matter, in the business of executive search where it is necessary to be able to anticipate people, the first two parts of this are the most important to me....a person's core values is at that point mostly unnecessarily putting a label of sorts on the person.

Identifying someone's core values, at that point, is either a bow ribbon (another selling point in the favor of the candidate) or a stake in the heart.

This is more correct as a description of what I say I have the capacity to do but of course, I don't expect this will change either of your positions.

Like I said, Dean, you started this conversation.

Any photo album will do....Truth or Dare...



Comment by Dean Da Costa on April 1, 2014 at 3:25am

                Comment by Dean Da Costa 3 minutes agoDelete Comment

I did not say it does not exist, I said "In my opinion these two supposed tools, have major flaws and you would have a better chance of using a crystal ball to get these answers than relying on either facial patterns or writing styles to determine the core values or fit of a candidate."

As to your challenge, to late I spoke to a guy I know who tested the tool, it failed miserably. According to the tool the best employee at his company should not have been hired, to bad. I also spoke to 2 of the numerous jury consultants I know both said the same thing, that you cannot tell if someone has core values just from a picture. I also had an email exchange with Joe Navarro, the guy that wrote the book "What Every Body is Saying" and he to, said you cannot tell those things just from a picture or a face without asking question to see their facial expressions, tells, etc. all this combined with what the experts published in the Oxford Journal said makes it clear to me as it is to everyone else that has commented. You cannot tell if someone meats the core values of a company just by seeing their face or a picture. I am betting even you have more to go on, but will not admit it. In fact judging by your response by guess is you at least see their resume or profile before you make the determination so you are not just utilizing their face or picture. So again thanks for the comments, but its time to come back to reality, and for me to move on.

Comment by Tiffany Branch on April 1, 2014 at 8:59am

Ted Bundy and the BTK killer looked like nice guys too. This is total crap. Paying attention to non-verbal communication, yes, there is some validity, however that isn't even fool proof. I am ALWAYS cold, so I tend to sit with my arms folded. Yeah, yeah, I know....most are taught that this is a "defensive" or "skeptical" stance. WRONG!! For me, it's simply because I'm cold. LOL

Comment by Tiffany Branch on April 1, 2014 at 9:00am

"Sizing people up" also costs a lot of good, qualified folks jobs because of people's prejudices.

Comment by PAUL FOREL on April 1, 2014 at 10:51am

Well, Tiffany, if this sort of thing doesn't work for you then none of this applies.

Simply said, it works for me.

And that's all that really matters.

As I've said before here- in thirty years, I've never had a bad hire and all my retained search hires stayed/are staying on the job for the entire duration as was expected (14 years in one case, promotions were achieved as expected in others) and none of my hires have been subsequently identified as serial killers.

So far, so good.And by the way, in the process of Executive Search, we solicit our own candidates. Which means, Tiffany, we know several things about that person before we even speak with them. So unless you are suggesting a conspiracy....prejudices can only come from peers and superiors before I speak with that person....The prejudices you speak of are only contained in your own words.Paul

Comment by PAUL FOREL on April 1, 2014 at 11:08am

Hey, Dean.

Well, like so many, you will stick to what you believe in.

My assessments take less than two seconds and are as naturally occurring as I breathe air.

And no, I use no props- we are talking about anything from a glance to a look.

Anyway, as with Tiffany, everyone has an opinion on something.

I had offered this as an additional possibility for you to consider but since you choose not to, that be your right.

We are always going to find someone to back up our lack of knowledge so things stay the way we want them to.

Sorry to take your time- I was hoping you might be open to an opposing viewpoint that includes my own experience in the art of assessment.

And by the way, let's face it- "...everyone else that [who, Dean, who] has commented..." only includes those with an ingrained set of prejudices as to how these things work. Not one of you has really examined what I described, above, and have instead resorted to characterizing and even resorting to bringing up serial killers to make a point.

As for your reference to a 'test', I am unclear of what you are saying. I have, in the past, suggested someone open their photo album and let me do what I do and from that, they are clear that although it is no easier to explain, I clearly made my point.

You apparently have no such interest but are happy to quote others and sit with your preconceived ideas as to how these things can be. Obviously, you are not interested in learning anything about this that does not match up with what you believe exists for you already.

Well, like Chuck Berry said, "...You Got a Right..."


Comment by Keith Halperin on April 2, 2014 at 6:00pm

Not quite sure this below iswhat ANYBODY hes is talking about, but it's somewhat related:

(Un-dsiclaimer: I have no association with this Dr, Ekman- just think  this micro-expression stuff is kinda cool...)

Micro Expressions

Micro expressions are very brief facial expressions, lasting only a fraction of a second. They occur when a person either deliberately or unconsciously conceals a feeling. Seven emotions have universal signals: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, contempt, surprise and happiness. You can learn to spot them.


Haggard and Isaacs were the first to describe micro expressions (calling them “micro momentary expressions”) in their study of psychotherapeutic interviews. They explained the appearance of “micros” as the result of repression; the patient did not know how he or she was feeling. Haggard and Isaacs also implied that these fleeting expressions could not be recognized in real time, but  Ekman and Friesen later showed that, with training, anyone could learn to see “micros” when they occurred. Ekman and Friesen also broadened the explanation of why micros occur.

Micro expressions happen when people have hidden their feelings from themselves (repression) or when they deliberately try to conceal their feelings from others. Importantly, both instances look the same; you cannot tell from the expression itself whether it is the product of suppression (deliberate concealment) or repression (unconscious concealment).


Macro: normal expressions usually last between ½-second and 4 seconds. They often repeat, and fit with what is said and the sound of the person’s voice.
Micro: These are very brief, usually lasting between 1/15 and 1/25 of a second. They often display a concealed emotion and are the result of suppression or repression.
False: A deliberately-made simulation of an emotion not being felt.
Masked: A false expression made to cover a macro expression.

Why are Micro Expressions Important?

Learning to spot micro expressions can help you:

Improve your emotional intelligence

One of the keys to improving emotional intelligence is developing skills which help you understand the human face. Unlike language or gesture the face is a universal system of signals which reflect the moment-to-moment fluctuations in a person’s emotional state. Learning how to read micro expressions will help you recognize feelings in others and, at the same time, you will likely become more aware of your own feelings.

Develop your capacity for empathy

Emotions play a key role in all of our interactions. Common expressions on the face — macro expressions — may not accurately portray how someone is feeling. When you can recognize the fleeting and more evasive expressions that arise, you become more sensitive to the range of emotions others wish you to know they are feeling. You also become more skilled at noticing when an emotion is just beginning, when an emotion is being concealed, and when a person is unaware of what they are actually feeling. These are skills that can help you become more sensitive to the real feelings of others, and to let others know, when appropriate, that they are truly “seen.”
Recent research by Helen Reiss and others has shown that physicians’ ability to recognize emotion from briefly presented facial expressions predicted patients’ ratings of the physicians’ empathy.

Spot Concealed Emotions

When someone tries to conceal his or her emotions, “leakage” of that emotion will often be evident in that person’s face. The leakage may be limited to one region of the face (a mini or subtle expression), or may be a quick expression flashed across the whole face (a micro expression). Most people do not recognize these important clues, but, with training, you can learn to spot them as they occur. See Paul Ekman’s book Telling Lies for a full analysis of these and other clues of concealment and deceit.

Improve your relationships

The face offers the best window we have on how other people are feeling. Improving your ability to recognize others’ emotions will increase the intimate understanding that allows you to connect with other people. Research has also found that people who learned to spot micro expressions were better liked by co-workers. 

Understand others

Dr. Ekman’s research has shown that we often miss facial expressions when they contradict words being spoken. Yet facial micro expressions are a universal system — everybody has them, and they warrant our attention. Even people from vastly different cultures, people who don’t speak your language, still have the same emotions and will show the same expressions. When you learn to recognize micro expressions, spotting the discrepancies between what you hear and what you see applies across the board – from friends and family to total strangers.

Recognize and better manage your own emotions

Learning to recognize facial expressions of emotion in others helps you learn to recognize your own emotions. Dr. Ekman’s research reveals that simply mimicking an emotion by manipulating one’s own facial expressions will initiate the physiological experience of that emotion – you’ll feel it arise within yourself. When you purposefully train yourself to link facial expressions with internal experience, you improve your conscious awareness of your internal emotions. Thus, you improve your chances of recognizing when you are becoming emotionally triggered. This awareness can help you manage the expression of your emotions.

Develop Social Skills

Individuals on the autism spectrum have benefited greatly with micro expression training, most notably with the Subtle Expression Training Tool (eSETT). People with schizophrenia have also shown positive results. Research done by Tamara Russell and others has found that training with Ekman’s Micro Expression Training Tool (eMETT) enabled people with schizophrenia to recognize emotion in others on par with normal persons. View our research page for further studies.

How can I learn Micro Expressions?

There are many resources to help you learn how to spot micro expressions. Paul Ekman has developed scientifically-proven training tools. There are many books available and a library of research papers updated on an ongoing basis. We’d suggest you browse informational videos and follow the work of our colleagues (see FAQ).   Additionally, we provide photographs for training and research purposes.


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