Interviewing: Part Two

The Process of Deception


Determining deception in an interview requires the fraud examiner’s abilities to detect subtle change, limit disbelief in the subject, and suppress emotional responses. 

Mike, the fraud examiner, had no preconceptions of his impending interview with Sam. He knew that Sam might have some information about the recently discovered embezzlement. But Mike also knew that any preconceived notions of Sam’s guilt could affect Sam’s level of anxiety, speech patterns, and physical movements. More than anything else, Mike was looking for one possible indication of deception: change.

To you falls the necessary task of determining if an interview subject is deceptive, identifying the nature of that deception, and changing falsehoods into truth during the interview.

We have only our own subjectivity with which to perceive and assess the presence of deception. If you become an effective persuader you’ll learn:

  • the limitations of your subjectivity concerning deception;
  • the impersonal nature of the subject’s attempts to deceive; and
  • the necessity of suppressing emotional responses to the deceptions of others.

What we have to keep in mind is that the subject’s deceptive behavior isn’t directed at us personally.

Evaluating Symptoms of Change

Just as a physician will evaluate a patient’s symptoms to diagnose an illness, so will you evaluate a subject’s “symptoms” for signs of deception he observes and not react angrily to them.

As always, when you evaluate a subject and possible use of that subject, the key word is change. The very fact that change occurs is as significant as any particular manifestation of change. Most subjects will display some emotionally reactive response in conjunction with deception.1 As Proverbs 6:11-13 describes such behavior, “He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers.”

Therefore you’ll:

  • watch for a change in the rate of eye blinking (what can it show?);
  • note changes in movement of the subject’s feet and legs (what can they tell?); and
  • pay attention to changes in movement of the subject’s hands and fingers (what can they teach?).

The subject’s attempts to deceive normally will result in stress. That stress will be expressed physically – in the subject’s body. The stronger the rapport between you and your subject (see part one of this article in the March/April issue), the greater the stress the subject will experience once he becomes deceptive. The greater the subject’s stress, the more obvious are the deception indicators. (There are many unexpected benefits from your investment of time and effort in establishing rapport with a subject.)

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