Researcher says he knows if you’re lying in interview

If you’re tempted to stretch the truth to get that dream job, think again.


Queen’s University psychologist Ronald Holden has found a way to tell if you’re lying.


In a study funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Holden discovered that response times are the key to determining who is lying and who is telling the truth on screening tests used by employers to evaluate potential employees.


“Some people say that lying takes time,” says Holden. “Others say that lying is really fast. But, we’ve found it is much more complex than that.”

Holden’s theory is that if you really want the job, you will take longer to say anything negative about yourself on the screening test. If you don’t want the job, you will take longer to say anything positive.

By analyzing and comparing your response times — down to the millisecond — Holden can tell if you’re faking.

“It is something that we’ve replicated over and over again,” says Holden. “We can determine who is trying to fake out the test in about 75 to 80 per cent of the cases.”

This is good news for companies who rely on these tests to hire new employees. More than 10 million personality, integrity and honesty tests are given by companies in North America each year, and it’s estimated that up to 60 per cent of the people who take them lie.

“This is a big problem because when people misrepresent themselves, employers are not able to select the right person — in terms of personality — for the job,” says Holden. “By finding a way to detect who is lying on these screening tests, we can level out the playing field for everyone.”

So far, Holden’s research has been used in a diverse range of contexts, from clinical assessments of psychiatric patients to personality tests for new recruits in the Canadian and US militaries.

“I even had a call from Cosmo Girl,” he says. “They wanted me to create a test girls could use to figure out if their boyfriends were lying to them.”

To learn more about SSHRC-supported research, visit

job interview tips

• Prepare likely questions and responses in advance. Before the interview prepare a list of possible questions that might be asked and create the corresponding answers.

• Don’t underestimate the influence of a proper hand-shake. Many interviewers create instant impressions of individuals based on their hand-shake.

• Maintain good eye contact throughout the interview. It portrays a strong confidence in any candidate.

• Send a quick thank-you note to your interviewers. Include important information you learned from the interview and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.

• At the end of an interview ask for business cards so you have their e-mail addresses to send the letter to.