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How to avoid falling for a smooth talker when recruiting

30 Jul 2018

How to avoid falling for a smooth talker when recruiting

Recruitment Tips 0 comments

Interviews have low predictive validity. Although digital tools can help in recruitment, we can still question the recruiters' ability to carry out effective and unbiased interviews. As recruiters, we are influenced by cognitive biases. Among them, the naivety bias, which is the tendency to be won over by a charming candidate. We are at risk of recruiting the wrong candidate as well as missing out on a more competent candidate but that is less charming.

Here are 5 golden rules to help you avoid recruiting the wrong candidate.

1) Don’t let the candidate run the show
The candidate will have their pitch prepared. Therefore, you should briefly run through the candidates general experience and history quickly, as they will have this aspect prepared perfectly. Try thinking outside of the box in order to surprise the candidate and ensure they can’t give an answer that has been reflected upon.

2) Favour concrete examples over general ones
If you’re recruiting a salesperson, ask about their results as well as digging deeper and trying to find out how they operate while prospecting. If you discuss for example, issues with marketing campaigns, ask the candidate what specific steps they would take. If the candidate is a master of the topic, they should be able to convey in detail the methodology related to the projects they have managed in the past. Remember, some individuals are experts in the art of talking about what they don’t know.

3) Don’t get blinded by flattery
A smooth talker will usually tend to agree with you, and say what you want to hear at the right time, for example, that your company is well renowned on the market. As goes the French saying, “all flatterers live at the expense of those who listen to them”!

4) Put things into practice
The best way to evaluate the level a candidate has of a foreign language is to suggest holding a conversation in that given language. That will be far more valuable than just empty talk. If the candidate is applying for a sales position, ask them to present a product they know well, perhaps even your own products. Situation-based exercises complement an interview.  

5) Identify any uncertain areas in the candidate’s job history
We do not always disclose everything in an interview and hide some things, it is only natural. If there is a gap in their curriculum, if the candidate has left a company although they were getting good results, ask them why and try to detect what is them just talking and reality.  

Finally, if you deem that being a smooth talker is a positive characteristic for the position, maybe you won’t be wrong for falling for it. However, this positive trait can quickly turn into an issue. Ensure you assess all the required characteristics for the position by using an objective assessment tools. Combining several methods and criteria will only strengthen your judgment and will make you avoid any hiring mistakes!


Patrick Leguide
Founder and CEO
CEO and founder of Central Test, Patrick has two degrees, in Cognitive Psychology and in Management. He is the head of the Research and Innovation department, and is actively involved in the creation of tests.