How to Get Candidates to Tell You the Whole Truth

After decades in the industry, I’ve found that candidates have a common tendency to not be entirely honest during the application and interview process. They may hype their experience in resumes and interviews, and conceal mistakes made in their careers and jobs that didn’t work out.  If you’ve been a hiring manager, in HR or a company manager, no doubt you’ve encountered this.  If these individuals do get hired, they are more likely to repeat past mistakes or behaviors, causing frustration and costing the company money and time. So how can you get candidates to tell you the whole truth?

I’ve developed a technique that’s worked for 30+ years, infusing honesty in hiring for leading companies like UBS, Honeywell, and American Heart Association, and thousands of other companies. This “truth serum” has prevented millions of mis-hires and saved companies $X-million.  This is the first of several blogs which explain how to get the “whole truth” from candidates.

At my company Topgrading, we teach managers what is called the Threat of Reference Check (TORC) or “truth serum” to separate potential mis-hires from the rest of the candidates. We recommend informing candidates that a final step in the hiring process is for them to arrange the reference calls with their managers. This puts the responsibility on the candidate to contact those they’ve reported to and anyone else you want to talk with (peers, customers, division leaders, etc.).  I hit on this technique early in my consulting career and it quickly became a game changer to the hiring process.  It motivates low performers and those that have inflated their accomplishments to drop out.  They don’t want you to talk to the people they have reported to, for fear those bosses would give a negative reference or illuminate information they were trying to withhold. They also know that it’s very unlikely bosses would agree to talking with you, for fear of a law suit if they told you the truth about their poor performance.  Through this threat of reference check you save your company both time and money by weeding out these candidates before they move ahead as a potential hire.

High performers are VERY willing to arrange the reference calls because they have nothing to hide and know their managers will agree to talk with you and sing their praises.  In Topgrading’s  Career History Form candidates are asked to give their full salary history (except where prohibited by law), the true reasons for leaving jobs, and  how they think every boss would rate their overall performance (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor).  Hundreds of clients have said knowing these ratings before even talking with a candidate is a huge time saver and the best candidate screening tool imaginable.  Do you agree?

Time Tested:  Leading companies and SMBs have used the TORC technique for decades with 100% success rate.  Over the years clients consistently report that the actual ratings correlate highly and match the candidate’s assessment of their performance. These calls provide another data point are a terrific way to verify what candidates said in their interviews.

The upcoming blogs will answer common questions about how to use the “truth serum” and make the TORC Technique work smoothly.

Have you encountered candidates who have not been entirely truthful during the hiring process?  Share your experience below.

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