Breaking News! People lie during job interviews.
Some companies also lie during job interviews, but we’re not discussing lies, per say, today, we are discussing “gaming the interview.” You may be wondering what that even means. Well, gaming the interview happens when a candidate doesn’t flat out lie yet gives a response that can be misinterpreted to get the job. For example, if you ask candidates why they want the position, they might say, “I am passionate about this kind of work.” Well maybe they are, but you can’t prove passion, and the word “passion” has become an overused cliché.
“Gaming the interview” is not the same as the gamification of the hiring process. Some companies do “gamify” their hiring process by incorporating game metrics or characteristics to ramp up the “fun” factor for applicants. For example, the Department of Defense gamified their recruitment processes by adding video game simulations to evaluate the skill, competitiveness, and “battle-field” readiness of potential soldiers. And they aren’t the only ones using gamification to evaluate potential candidates, just check out this article on Undercover Recruiter, “Gaming the Interview Process. ” In these cases, the game is an assessment created and controlled by the company doing the recruiting.
“Gaming the interview” is a trick or strategy, as in “to game the system.” In other words, candidates can manipulate the interview process to their advantage in order to win. Some candidates put a lot of effort into gaming the system by studying personality test questions or researching “Top Résumé Questions” and memorizing the answers an employer might want. Some even go so far as to try and understand the psychology of the recruiter in order to anticipate the questions and offer responses that are likely to elicit a positive psychological reaction.
According to this article on Time.com, over 56% of all resumes have at least one lie or embellishment. I can tell you, as a résumé writer, I know that number is higher. Though plenty of people do not lie on their résumés, they often overplay or inflate certain titles, dates, or accomplishments. This is a form of gaming the résumé to get to the interview.
HR has tried to determine what’s real, what’s embellished, and what’s a flat out lie for decades. Many human resource professionals use their gut instincts and their life experiences to detect deception but their gut instincts are not always effective. Anyone in HR can tell you that there are some amazingly effective interviewees and communicators out there. They dazzle us with their ability to connect and make us feel comfortable and even excited about hiring them.
Sometimes a background check illuminates things we did not notice or would have never discovered. Other times, candidates pass the background check, yet, once they are in our organization, they are difficult, lazy, or not who they presented themselves to be. These folks didn’t necessarily lie to us—they simply gamed the process to get hired.
Here are a few suggestions we can use to avoid or eliminate interview gaming:
Pre-employment skills assessments can help you hire and promote better candidates and reduce the possibility of interview gaming just as it has helped other industry-leading companies. For instance, Crossroads Staffing utilized eSkill assessments to help them verify qualifications presented on the candidates’ résumés. The University of Maryland created a pre-assessment test for technical positions and experienced tremendous success. eSkill was instrumental in helping Zappos assess and quickly evaluate the software skills and administrative capabilities of internal and external candidates. The ORVIS company built a strategic partnership with eSkill, which met ORVIS’s demands to create specific and measurable skills assessments for IT Programmers and Developers.
I can tell you, there have been plenty of times I wish we had used assessments to help weed out interview gamers!
Now it’s your turn. Tell us about your experience with interview gamers in the comments below.
Chris Fields is an HR professional and expert resume writer with more than 13 years of experience as a former practitioner and current HR consultant. He is the curator of two websites: CostofWork.com and ResumeCrusade.com , and contributes HR-focused content to many others, including PerformanceICreate.com and SmartRecruiters.com . He has been listed by the Huffington Post as one of the “Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts to Follow on Twitter”, one of the “Top 40 under 40” by the HR Blogger Network, one of the “25 Must-Read HR Blogs in 2013”, and also featured on Oprah.com. He is very active with the Society of Human Resource Management, working closely with conference directors, communication chairs, and social media teams from Illinois, Oklahoma, and Tennessee to develop social strategies to engage attendees and enhance their conference experience. Chris earned his master’s degree in Labor and Human Resources from Ohio State University. In 2005, he moved back to his hometown of Memphis, TN, where he has developed a reputation for helping his clients create HR strategies, and individuals master the tough economic challenges of the South.