Article Categories 
 Leadership Skills & Styles
 Pre-Employment Tests, Interview Skills & Hiring
 Human Resources Management
 Organizational Change Management
 Self-Help, Inspirational, & Motivational

Pre-Employment Tests, Interview Skills & Hiring

By Michael Mercer, P.hD.
Aug 20, 2008, 15:17

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

You can use pre-employment tests, interview tricks and more to uncover if a job applicant is lying to you or embellishing the truth. 


Question:  Did you ever have a job applicant lie to you or, to be charitable, embellish the truth?


Answer:  You probably answered, “Yes.”


This is important.  In my third book, “Hire the Best and Avoid the Rest,” I often have been quoted as writing, “Whatever behavior you see from an applicant in the screening process is likely the best behavior you will see from that person.”  So, if an applicant lies on your tests, interviews and forms, that person also may be dishonest in work he or she does, if you hire the person.


But, don’t worry.  Reason:  I will reveal to you methods you can use to

a.  discover if an applicant lied to you

b.  make an applicant hesitant to lie to you





Pre-employment tests, especially behavior or personality tests, offer a scientific method to catch job applicants who are dishonest, untruthful, or liars.  That is one reason many companies use pre-employment tests.


The personality tests you use to test job applicants must contain a lie, honesty, or “accuracy” scale.  It includes questions that catch job applicants who tries to fool you or lie. 


This is wonderful for every manager who hires employees.  After all, no company wants to hire a liar.  Also, it is better to discover a job applicant is a liar before putting that person on your payroll.


How does a pre-employment behavior or personality test catch a dishonest job applicant? 


Some job applicants take a personality test while thinking, “I am going to give answers that make me seem more wonderful than I am.”  That is, some job applicants try to give answers that make them seem “better or different” than they really are.  That is a nice way to say the person lies.


Fortunately, good pre-employment tests catch liars or people who embellish the truth about how wonderful they really are.


To do this, a behavior or personality pre-employment test can use a number of methods.  The most accurate method is to ask truism questions.  A truism is a little weakness or difficulty everyone has.  Although everyone has that little weakness, the faker or liar will deny it.


For example, the Behavior Forecaster™ Test predicts 14 behavior or personality traits, including an honesty scale.  For instance, one truism question in the honesty scale goes something like this:  “Did you ever say anything about someone behind their back, and not to their face?” 


Honest job applicants taking this pre-employment test answer, “Yes.”  However, job applicants trying to seem better or different than they truly are answer, “No.”


On this employment test question, the only person who honestly can answer “No” is a person with a halo floating over his or her head.  (However, few job applicants are angels.)


So, this question provides one part of catching a liar.


Of course, a job applicant who is trying to fake-out a pre-employment test or evaluation needs to lie on a certain number of truism questions before their answers may indicate they were trying to be dishonest on the test as a whole. 


So, imagine a job applicant who lies on many of the truism questions.  An applicant who cannot answer truthfully on many basic truisms of everyday life may be lying on other questions in the pre-employment personality test.  When this happens, you will feel relieved the test uncovered the job applicant as someone who may avoid revealing difficulties on-the-job.  That could prove mighty expensive and time-consuming for the person’s manager and the company. 




In the interview, you can use an interview “tricks” to

a.  discover if an applicant lied to you

b.  warn applicants not to lie to you


The key in job interviews is to politely warn the applicant of dire consequences if you are told a lie or exaggeration.


You can catch a job applicant who possibly lied to you by doing this “trick.”  Near the job interview’s start, get the applicant to tell you a magnificent work achievements.  After the applicant tells you an astounding accomplishment – e.g., made a lot more money for the company, saved huge amounts for the company, automated work previously done by hand, etc. – you look the job candidate in the eye, and say, “Tell me the name of the manager who can confirm that you truly did that magnificent achievement.”


A lying job applicant will try to weasel out of telling you whom to contact.  An honest job candidate quickly will give you a manager’s name.


Important:  By making that inquiry near the start of the job interview, you implicitly warn the job applicant never to lie to you.  Why?  Now, the job candidate knows you may investigate everything he or she said to you.


Here is another way to make sure the applicant tells you the truth about a key concern, namely, their pay history.  Many job candidates lie about compensation.  They figure if they tell you they were paid more than they truly were, then you might offer a job with even higher pay.


So, in the job interview, before you ask about the applicant’s pay history, say, “If we hire you, and then discover anything you told us was dishonest, then we may use your dishonesty as a reason to fire you.  Now, please tell me how much you were paid in your jobs.”


This works great.  When I said this to job candidates, some candidates admitted their pay was less than they wrote on job application forms.  The applicants realized they better not lie to me.




Your application forms might, if possible, include a statement somewhat like the following, that you make the applicant sign and date:  “I know this company wants me to tell the truth on all the forms, applications, questionnaires, tests, and interviews it uses.  I agree if this company hires me, and then discovers anything I said or wrote or answered was not the truth, the company has the right to fire me.  If I get fired for my dishonesty, then I agree it was my fault, and the company had a 100% right to fire me.”  Such a statement surely encourages truthfulness.




You must hire productive, dependable, and honest employees.  Unfortunately, some job applicants try to fool you, give you dishonest answers, and portray themselves as “better or different” than they really are.  Fortunately, you can use three methods to catch or detect if a job candidate lied to you:

1.  Pre-Employment Tests – personality test or behavior test with Lie or Accuracy scale

2.  Job Interview “tricks” – e.g., request achievement confirmations plus give warnings

3.  Job Application form – make job candidate sign lying-leads-to-firing statement


Andy Grove, the ex-CEO of Intel, wrote a book entitled, “Only the Paranoid Survive.”  Acting a bit paranoid that job applicants may lie to you is a realistic and healthy carefulness.  It helps you hire productive, dependable, and honest job candidates.





Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is America’s Hire the Best Expert™.  He authored 5 books – including “Hire the Best -- & Avoid the Rest™.”   Dr. Mercer researched and created the Forecaster™ Tests – pre-employment tests.  Many companies use Forecaster™ Tests – to help them hire the best.  He often (a) delivers the keynote speech at conferences and also (b) delivers training seminars at companies.  At no cost, you can obtain (1) his 14-page Special Report on “How to Hire Winners” plus (2) your own no cost subscription to “Dr. Mercer’s Management Newsletter” at phone = 847-382-0690 or 

Tags:  Pre-Employment Tests, Pre-EMployment Testing, hiring

Top of Page