There has been a lot written (some by me!) on whether recruiters should trust candidates; and on how much job seekers tell the truth vs lie, etc.

This makes me recall a couple of early TV game shows.  “Who Do You Trust?”, originally hosted by Johnny Carson, was about whether husbands trusted themselves or their wives better to answer the quiz question posted to them.    The show that was a more applicable reference to today’s topic was actually “To Tell The Truth”.  In this show, four celebrities tried to find which contestant truly held a particular profession (like being an airline pilot), vs. two impostors who merely pretended to be in that occupation.  The celebrity “interviewers” posed questions to try to ascertain who was the real pilot, and who was lying.  It was a fun show that ran for 25 years in various forms, which may prove how entertaining the recruiting profession is supposed to be!

In real life, we recruiters have to figure out who is qualified to occupy a profession, by asking questions and discerning the truth.  Where is Kitty Carlisle when you need her?

I think the key to being able to trust a candidate is to do the best possible job in getting to the truth, as an interviewer.  This entails asking direct and relevant questions, like “what would specifically qualify you to accomplish X?”, with X being a key job objective.  Then we must probe for details that back up the candidate’s initial assertion.  Ask “who, what, why, how” questions like, “What was your biggest obstacle in accomplishing X?”, and “How did you utilize your team to accomplish X?”. It is harder to fake answers to these specific questions.

Most experienced recruiters will be able to tell substance from fluff, if they ask the right questions.

Who Do You Trust? We’d like the answer to be everyone, and it is our job to help the candidate answer truthfully, by asking questions that encourage truthful, substantive answers.

Views: 216

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on March 22, 2012 at 9:32am

Mark, you are dating yourself (and me)!  I remember those shows.

A mentor recruiter of mine once told me that I should never trust my candidates and I should never trust my clients.  While cynical, there is much truth in that.  I have found that with candidates, everyone says that they are able to do a job, even if they are not qualified.  You are right in that it is our job to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.  I often ask the same question in multiple ways and the truth generally comes out.  I do that with salary all the time, including, often, calling a candidate two days after an interview and asking them to remind me of their salary.  A huge percentage of the time I get different answers.  It is amazing.

Comment by Mark Bregman on March 22, 2012 at 10:23am
Yes, I've had the same experience of asking the same question several ways and getting different answers - about comp, and also about reasons for leaving a job (which I've blogged in the past). Thanks for your comments.


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