People Innovation Excellence

Virtually lying for the job

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INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 43: NUMBER 11

Interviewers have difficulty detecting deception online
Employers are going to have to get better at detecting deception in the virtual world, according to a Mississippi State business researcher who found that people often fudge facts under the right circumstances.

The research targeted email, instant messaging, chat and text messaging to judge their effect on lie detection. Assistant professor Kent Marett, in conjunction with colleagues at Florida State and Connecticut State universities, evaluated the ability of interviewers (students) to detect falsehoods in resume-listed qualifications. Researchers warned half of the interviewers that job applicants sometimes tell lies. Applicants (also students) were told to make their resumes “competitive.” Results showed that interviewers who received warnings caught deception more often than those who were not warned. And applicants deftly embellished their qualifications. Researchers debriefed students with case studies of careers derailed so they didn’t leave thinking deception was a valid strategy.

“In an increasingly ‘virtual’ world, this research has more relevance than ever,” Marett observed. “With tight budgets, more companies are doing virtual interviews with applicants they don’t meet face to face, and we found deception is more difficult to detect online.”


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