How to Get the Whole Truth in Interviews

helpful tips

Hi, I’m Brad Smart, Founder of Topgrading and frequently referred to “The #1 Expert in the World on Hiring.” This is the first in a series of three blogs that will help you hire better. This tip will:

•   Cost you nothing,

•   Save you a lot of time, and

•   Improve your hiring success …

Two of the biggest problems in hiring, solved with this tip are:

1.   Candidate dishonesty in their resumes (about 40% of resumes contain lies) and

2.   Poor verification of what candidates tell you. This blog tip is a 40-year proven remedy for candidate dishonesty.

Background: I’ve interviewed 6,500 candidates for executive jobs, and initially did not like my chosen profession. When I finished my Ph.D. I joined a firm of management psychologists who did just that … interview finalists. I quickly learned that clients REALLY just wanted us to find out who are the BSers – which candidates hype their successes and strengths and hide failures and weaker points. It was mental sparring. Low performers know they can hype resume and interview claims, and hide their mistakes and weaker points, and get away with it because they can just allow reference checks with their buddies – NOT their bosses who if they agreed to a reference call (and most wouldn’t) might be critical of them. You have the same challenge – trying to sort the truth from the BS, right?

Then I interviewed a guy who had a terrific hiring record and when asked how he did it, he gave me the “truth serum” tip … which I passed on to clients … which enabled them to weed out low performers and only send me really good candidates … which resulted in their hiring almost all A Players … which made their businesses more successful … and I had a heck of a lot more fun interviewing high performers than low performing BS-ers.

If you hire people, I assure you, you will have a “heck of a lot more fun” interviewing honest, high performers, and you’ll avoid those costly mis-hires. This tip explains how.

Tell candidates (or have your recruiters do it) right from the start: A final step in hiring is for candidates (that’s you) to arrange for reference calls with your managers in the past decade (and others) … at a time you approve (usually when a job offer has been made).

 More than two dozen Fortune 500 companies plus hundreds of start-ups and mid- size companies have benefitted from this tip. When candidates are given this short “truth serum” speech, the C Players (with a lot of BS in their resume) drop out, knowing they are busted – they cannot get away with this charade. They know they couldn’t get their bosses to talk with you and they would not want them to, for fear bosses would say they were lousy performers.

So, use the “truth serum” and you no longer will waste hours and hours screening candidates that are low performers … and most important, you are much more likely to avoid those costly mis-hires.

Topgrading is the most effective and most proven hiring method. Want to learn more? Go to and download the eBook, Topgrading401.

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