business professionals sitting on chair

Query: I manage a team of just over 20 people in a healthcare firm and we are about to recruit, which will see my team double in strength. I am delighted, but I am a bit nervous about the process. While I will have help from the HR department, it will be my responsibility to sign off on the new recruits. My concern is knowing how to pick the right candidates, as I am afraid people will embellish the truth during the process. How can I spot the spoofers?


Answer: There is always apprehension when recruiting, particularly when this is not a usual duty within your role. Making important hiring decisions, relying on the honesty of candidates and trusting your judgement can be difficult.

For example, if a candidate knows that a management role requires leadership skills, why wouldn’t they embellish their strength and preferences in this area?

Building a strong bank of information, examining the candidate from many different perspectives and enlisting the assistance of an experienced colleague or trainer can help improve this process. It will drastically increase your chances of hiring the best people to the most appropriate roles. Here are some pointers:

1. Build a robust multi-approach process

While there is never a guarantee of absolute honesty, building a consistent structured process which views various aspects of the candidate’s ability, personality and experience maximises your insight into the candidate’s profile and minimises the risk of making a poor hiring decision.

This also standardises the process, leading to a more positive candidate experience with less vulnerability to legal challenges.

A strong selection process often follows the format:

  • CV/application form
  • Telephone screening
  • First-round interview
  • Psychometrics/personality inventory
  • Final-round interview;
  • Statement of employment and/or medical
  • Offer of employment

2. Include a Personality Inventory Report

These reports are scientifically validated questionnaires used to provide an insight into a candidate’s personality and preferences in relation to a given role. While interviews provide a good insight into candidate’s previous experience and allows a two-way conversation between the candidate and potential employer, utilising personality inventory reports can reduce the likelihood of issues through the use of indirect questions and a science-based approach.

Indirect questions: Questions asked in a personality inventory are not so straightforward as “Do you like working as part of a team?” Often, preference selection will force the candidate to select between several favourable behaviours or rank behaviours in order of likelihood or preference. This means that the candidate must rely on their judgement and preferences, making it much more difficult to manipulate the eventual scoring.

Lie scales/social desirability measures: Checks and scales built into personality inventories act to ensure that those candidates who lie or exaggerate the truth are detected and highlighted to the assessor as part of the assessment report.

Valid and reliable personality inventories based on scientific evidence will include measures of candidates’ patterns and consistency of responding, including any attempt to skew the report in a particular direction.

3. Request Interview Skills Training

Conducting interviews is an acquired and practiced skill. Before undertaking interviews, ensure that you receive appropriate training either from internal HR or an external provider. This should include a focus on competency-based interview-style questions (an example based questioning style which research has shown to be more effective than traditional unstructured approaches) and the use of role play to practice your newly acquired skills. Increased skill will also lead you to increased confidence, allowing you to get the most out of the selection process and implementing the best possible process for choosing candidates.


This article first appeared in the business section of The Sunday Independent on November 4th 2018, and the original version can be viewed here

Caroline Ward

Senior HR Services Consultant

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group

Read more of Caroline’s blogs here.