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Investigation and Lie Detection

“The liar was the hottest to defend his veracity, the coward his courage, the ill-bred his gentlemanliness, and the cad his honor.” 
― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

There is a great deal of literature available to help determine whether someone you are speaking with, perhaps during an investigation, or during a game of poker, is lying to you. What follows are some of the “tells” the trained eye will look for:

  • Eye contact avoidance.
  • Liars use less hands and arms. Often on their lap, folded, closed body posture.
  • Palms down on the table or clenched.
  • Arms and legs crossed.
  • Touching face, playing with hair.
  • Partial shrug.
  • Inconsistent words, gestures, and emotions.
  • What was the initial reaction?
  • Timing of gestures.
  • The surprise wears off quickly.
  • The tight smile; the small smile.
  • Head moves mechanically.
  • The guilty usually go on the defensive; the honest on the offensive.
  • The head shifts.
  • Slumped posture.
  • Liars generally won’t touch you or point fingers.
  • Liars feel the need to give a lot of details.
  • Liars often repeat the question to gain time.
  • Liars use your words.
  • The Freudian slip.
  • Discomfort with silence.
  • The guilty usually engage in body “awayness.” They will put up barriers.
  • Guilty people try too hard to convince. “I would never…”, “I wouldn’t lie,” “To tell you the truth…”
  • “I need time to think.”
  • They look to be relieved that the questioning is over.
  • Look for the out of left field response
  • They make an effort to change the subject.
  • The guilty will engage in moral superiority.
  • They will answer the question with a statement first.

When you are hot on the liar’s trail, you can say things like:

  • Let them know the advantages of coming clean.
  • On a scale of 1-10 where might you fit in …
  • What else could you have done?
  • Talk about it as if it is already an established fact.
  • Stare at them and be silent. Give them a reason to tell the truth.
  • Ask them if “this is the whole story?”
  • I know this happened… what I want to know is what your intentions were?
  • Was this an innocent mistake or a calculated effort?
  • Expand their statement.
  • I know there are two sides to every story…

Liars feast off of amateurs, which is one reason I don’t play poker, and a good reason for you to hire a pro when dealing with workplace investigations!

 

Behavioral Interviewing

The goal of a behavioral interview is very simple: to see how somebody might behave under varying circumstances. The following is a partial list of circumstances that can show up. Add questions unique to your environment too. You can discuss the who, what, where, why and how of behaviors around:

  1. Not being clear about job tasks.
  2. Having difficulty with a co-worker.
  3. Having difficulty with a boss.
  4. Feeling your talents aren’t being properly utilized.
  5. Managing a challenging project either due to lack of resources, time or other pressures.
  6. Having made an error or dealing with somebody you manage who’s made an error.
  7. Setting goals and making sure you execute on them.
  8. Making an unpopular decision.
  9. Examples of how you motivate or engage people you manage or co-workers.
  10. What are some innovative or creative solutions that you’ve helped to generate to solve a problem?

And the catch-all question, “We’ve done a fair amount of behavioral interviewing, today and I’ve learned a lot you as a result. What other behaviors, both positive and negative, have we yet to discuss?

My Three Favorite Behavioral Questions

I consider all the above to be a dance around the middle. There aren’t enough interviewers who ask questions at the extreme. Such as:

  1. Tell me something that felt unfair to you in your last job? This is my favorite interview question of all, to understand somebody’s behaviors. Our personal culture is largely defined by how we deal with what feels unfair to us. So dig into it. If they tell you nothing felt unfair about their last job, then guess what… they are lying… and I won’t hire a liar. However, when they do tell you something felt unfair, now you get to ask additional questions. For example, why did it feel unfair? What did you do about it? I would go through their entire resume and ask that question about all their recent jobs.
  2. Now we go to the other extreme. What are you most excited about (in your previous job and other jobs)? Once again, why, why, why? Ask yourself if there’s a position at your company where the applicant can do the work they are most excited about. That’s where they tend to be most productive.
  3. The third question I like to ask relates to how well they know themselves. The question is this: “What are three things you think the people you have worked with would like to see you change about yourself?” If they say nothing, then they have the fantasy they are perfect, and I’m not hiring them. Most people would know the answer to that question, including you. When they eventually tell me what those three things are, I’ll find out from them what effort they’ve made to address those concerns.

You can understand how powerful these questions are by applying them to yourself. What feels unfair to you? What are you most excited about? What would people like to see you change about yourself? They are a great source of inquiry and awareness.

What are your favorite behavioral interviewing questions?

Can You Be Free Having a Job?

Jim Altucher is one of my favorite writers. In a recent blogpost, he did his usual spiel about ditching your job so you can free yourself. Challenge is most executives I know have a job and aren’t ready to leave it.

Can you be free having a job? is the question he challenges us with.

I wouldn’t know. I have had a boss for only four years out of a forty-year career. But I know this: I’ve seen executives “free” in their work and it’s a beautiful sight!

Here’s what Altucher’s says about the Zones we can find ourselves in:

  • “There’s the COUCH ZONE (“I like to eat popcorn all day and sleep”)
  • There’s the SAFETY ZONE (“I’m going to work my steady job, hope I don’t get fired, and retire and try to enjoy the remaining years of my life”).
  • There’s the COMFORT ZONE (“I have to make a paycheck and own a house but I’m not going to go off on my own. Too much risk.”)
  • There’s the DISCOMFORT ZONE (“I’m going to make a new friend every day.”)
  • There’s the DANGER ZONE (“I’m quitting my job and exploring my dreams! I have no idea what I will do tomorrow but I can’t take another day of this”)
  • Then there’s the “FREE ZONE”, (“I’m going to keep experimenting and ultimately scale the things that work.”)

All the zones are fine.

Sometimes I’m in the couch zone. I don’t mind. It’s ok to sleep on the couch. But I try to spend as much time as I can in the free zone.

The civilians are stuck in the comfort zone. This is ok also. But they might not see all the things that are happening around them that makethe Free Zone so beautiful.

The Secret Agents in our society use creativity to track down where the Free Zone is. This is where I want to be.”

So, what he’s saying is this: if we can use creativity in our work we can be free. The mistake I see employees making is thinking it’s an either-or proposition. I can be free on my own or have the security of a job.

It doesn’t have to be thought of in those terms. Here’s how it should be viewed.

We can decide to bring creativity to our ourselves first. Altucher gives good examples of how to do that. An hour playing with your own creativity is far more interesting than anything you can watch on your TV or mobile device.

Until my late 30’s, I didn’t feel very creative. I had a litigation practice and hadto play within a strict set of rules. When I left litigation, I purposely sought out programs on Creativity. De Bono’s Six Hats, Whack Upside the Head, I read books for artists and musicians on their creativity. And then I began experimenting. First with clients and then with online programs. And I eventually got results. And so will you.

Orville Wright didn’t need a pilot’s license to fly the first plane and you don’t need a creativity license to begin.

As Covey said, begin with your circle of influence. You first, then engage your team, then the dept. and so on. One solid step at a time. With enthusiasm.

Altucher is talking about freeing your mind. And your soul. Everyone has the ability to that in their job. It’s a choice. Creativity is fun, and it stretches you. Keeps you alive and anti-fragile. And, it’s the ultimate form of job security too.

Here’s a link to a Creativity Checklist I put together.

Here’s to working in the Free Zone, Don

How Would You Define Your Company in a Few Words to Job Seekers?

I believe in the importance of branding the employment opportunity. That’s why I found the directory of tech employers on TechMeme to be interesting. Some of them make sense to me; a few don’t at all.

I wonder how they come up with and test these branding themes.

If you ignore the company names, which ones attract your interest? Why?

What would you put for your company’s theme?

While it is important to frame what work your company does, I would also put something about the employee experience… especially on a hiring page!

Do you think any of these are cool enough to put on a T-shirt?

 

 

Some of my ideas:
DriveAI- The thrill of advancing self-driving technology.
Expedia- Come join the travel revolution!
Snap- Great work you want to SnapChat about!
Tell me some of your ideas and what you would say about your company?