In the Jan/Feb 2012 edition of Fraud Magazine, an article titled The 10 Tell-tale Signs of Deception, by Paul M. Clikeman, Ph.D., CFE defined several ways people present information when they are lying; the article also dives in to how people will relay that same information if they are telling the truth.
Here are a few of the highlights:
Top 10 Sign: Lack of Self-Reference: In short, when someone is telling a story but fails to use the word “I” in telling that story (think “I unlocked the storage room door” versus the more passive “The storage room door was unlocked.”), they may be being deceptive (in this case, avoiding telling the truth that is was them that unlocked the door). They might be covering up for the fact that they were the ones to steal something from the storage room.
Interview Strategies: Tell stories using the word “I.” The reason being, the potential employer understands precisely what you did in the situation and can understand your contribution to a project. This is especially important when describing work that included a team of people. Your skills and experiences are communicated much more clearly when you employ this strategy.
Top 10 Sign: Verb Tense: According to the article, “truthful people usually describe historical events in the past tense,” while deceptive people will treat those same events as if they are happening now. For example “I see the masked man approaching me and he has a gun. He grabs for my purse.” This person might be lying about those events.
Interview Strategies: Speaking about your work in present tense is sometimes quite appropriate. It can also backfire, because you come across as knowing best practices in a situation, but not that you have ever actually handled the situation in real life. Use a strong story to demonstrate your actions in a situation, which by nature also serves to define your skill set and your thought process at work. Ex: “I approached the tardy employee and asked her to step in to my office.” Versus “When an employee is late, it is important to talk to them in private.”
Top 10 Sign: Equivocation: Certain word choices can express a person’s uncertainty about a situation. These words include: think, guess, maybe, believe, perhaps, and could. When a deceptive person uses these words, it is actually enabling them to retract what they said at a later date. The statement, “I think it was about 8 pm when I got home” can easily be changed later if it is revealed the person actually got home at 6 pm.
Interview Strategies: Use concrete words to show confidence. Don't use weak or vague statements such as “I think this job is a good fit for me.” These soft, non-committal statements won’t help you communicate with strength. Try saying “The skills required in this position directly align with my experience.”