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Question Techniques: How to Supplement Background Checks

Question Techniques: How to Supplement Background Checks

Question Mark Joomla Transparent

 Question Mark Joomla Transparent

Question Techniques: How to Supplement Background Checks

By Derron McDuffee, Via Integrity

In last month’s DEMA Newsletter we discussed the problems with solely relying on criminal background checks when hiring employees. In order to overcome the shortcomings of background checks, employers must supplement their hiring procedures by conducting a detailed interview utilizing proper question techniques. How the employer asks questions will ultimately determine if they obtain insightful information that can be used during a hiring decision. In this newsletter, we will provide various question techniques that serve as the critical foundation during each interview. 

It has been well documented that more than half of all job applicants provide false information on their resumes and even more will lie during the job interview. Successful interviews are achieved when the applicant discusses information that they perceive to be against their best interest. Ultimately it is up to the interviewer to successfully navigate the applicant’s fears and get them to talk about things, such as adverse employment actions, that they did not intend to initially disclose. 

So how do employers get applicants to talk about their past? By using rapport and proper question techniques. Applicants will not discuss issues they deem could hurt their chances at landing a job if they do not like the interviewer. Employers must engage in rapport building prior to asking employment related questions.  Rapport building also gives the interviewer the opportunity to observe the applicant’s behavioral baseline. We will talk more about the importance of establishing a behavioral baseline in the next DEMA Newsletter.

Newsletter QuestionsNow that we have established rapport and the applicant’s behavioral baseline, it is time to start asking questions. Question formats come in two basic forms; close-ended question and open-ended questions. Close-ended questions are typically answered with a yes or no and they provide very little useful information. Closed-ended questions are the least preferred of the question formats, but inexperienced interviewers tend to rely on it the most. Conversely, open-ended questions require more thoughtful answers and should be used during a job interview.  Open-ended questions allow for rapport building and continuous dialog. As a bonus, open-ended questions provide the opportunity for the applicant to “leak” deceptive behaviors during their answers. 

Close and open-ended questions are the most common questions we ask during interviews. However, there are more advanced question techniques that can provide great information. Assumptive questions assume that the applicant has engaged in a particular behavior (“Tell me about the last time you were let go from a job?”). A bait question suggests knowledge regarding the applicant (“Would a past employer tell me that you were not a trustworthy employee?”). An alternative question is a choice between two options, a good option and bad option (“Have you been fired from every job you have had, or have you been let go from only a couple jobs?”). As a caution, the advance question techniques should not be over used during the interview for it will minimize the value of those elicitation techniques.

Lastly, use terminology that minimizes the significance of the questions.  Applicants tend to answer questions more truthfully when the wording is not strong. For example, choose the wording “being let go” vice “being fired” when discussing past employment.  Consider using “borrowing without permission” vice “stealing” when discussing theft from an employer.

In next month’s DEMA Newsletter, we will discuss what truthful and deceptive behaviors look and sound like.  Having these skills are vital for a successful interview and to hiring the right applicant with the character and integrity

 employers expect.




  via integrity logo  

Derron McDuffee



Co-founder and Chief Integrity Officer 

Click Here to view full Biography 

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