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Where does the truth lie? Gestures and Honesty in Hiring

Are your candidates who they say they are? Certain gestures may force honesty, once again reiterating the need for behavioral analysis as part of the approach to the interviewing process.

“Embodied cognition” is the idea that how we behave or position our bodies can influence the way we think, and the way we think can influence the way we behave. In recent studies, psychologists found that certain gestures that aligned with our cultural experience created a more authentic response if they were made before speaking. In some cases, the gesture even overrode the tendency to preserve relationship over truth—in other words, the gesture (specifically holding the hand over the heart) short circuited the attempt at a little white lie.

Bodily sensations influence the way we think, feel, and act…(and) a bodily sensation may activate the concept associated with it; this in turn may shape information processing, and behavior,” concluded Parzuchowski and Wojciszke. (Image and quotation courtesy of Kathryn Welds.)

In other words, what your candidate is doing is as important as what they are saying. You must listen and watch.

Hiring and behavioral analysis

The increased need for behavioral analysis in a job interview stems from the difficulty finding talent and the tendency of candidates to lie. 46 percent of resumes contain false information, and 70 percent of college student would lie if they thought it would help them get a job. An employment screen can catch obvious prevarication—title inflation, false salary or education—but honesty cannot be completely quantified or measured objectively.

Even though the average American has an attention span of five minutes or less, interviews are the time to dial in and observe every move. In the nuance of gesture and words, the truth lies. All you have to do is know how to see it.

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