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The Double-Edged Sword of Hiring for a Desirable Organization

Desirable organizations (a place where everyone wants to work) have a lot of benefits and challenges when it comes to applicant screening. Certainly, the more desirable the organization, the more applicants are willing to apply and go through the screening process. This can pose a challenge (that some may consider to be good)– having more applicants than is possible to pay individual attention to. But this also can benefit organizations that use validated screening tools to manage the flow of applicants and only hire the absolute best fit.

Desirable organizations can also face another challenge, that at times, leads to bad hires – applicants misrepresenting themselves in the interview. In other words, applicants might try to fake their way through the interview to get hired above other people who might be more qualified. Most companies suffer from this to some extent, however, there is a growing body of research evidence showing desirable organizations get more than their fair share – for example, Buehl and Melchers (2018)[i] found that applicants are much more likely to fake “who they are” when applying to desirable companies.

What can you do to combat applicants faking it?

  1. Assume everyone is faking. It’s not that you should assume everyone is lying – rather, you should assume that all your applicants are trying to represent themselves in the best light possible. So, adjust the sorts of questions you ask to make them more difficult to fake so only the best candidates will be able to answer them. For example, instead of asking people about their experience with a technology, ask about specific applications of that technology, which forces the applicants to demonstrate their knowledge.

  2. Use multiple screening methods. Although it is possible for applicants to fake their way through an individual process, it is much more difficult to consistently misrepresent yourself if multiple methods are used. By using multiple qualifying methods as part of your hiring process (e.g., assessments, work samples, knowledge quizzes), you help ensure the best candidates will be the ones hired.

  3. Assess their skills. As a supplement to the interview, you should be asking applicants to demonstrate the skills they claim to have. For example, it’s easy to say that they have JavaScript programming experience, but it is almost impossible to fake it when they are asked to demonstrate their programming skill. 

Regardless if you are a desirable company or not, be mindful of the problem of applicants faking in the interview. Set up the right qualifying questions and materials so you can mitigate your risk of making a bad hire.

At, we realize that interviews are important to get that last little bit of "confirmation" that you are hiring the right person, from a more personal level. From a professional level, the solution walks an applicant through numerous steps, from quizzes to work scenarios, ensuring that the candidate can do the job that they are applying for - in other words, you would not be interviewing a candidate who is faking, as they would have never made it to the interview process.

[i] Buehl, A.-K., & Melchers, K. G. (2018). Do attractiveness and competition influence faking intentions in selection interviews? Journal of Personnel Psychology, 17(4), 204-208.

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