|Ethan has yet to tell a single lie|
by Peter Hyatt
I ask this question, simply to weed out liars. Liars hold the rest of us in contempt and will cause problems for your company, your group, your team, your family, your marriage, and so on. Liars believe themselves above others and will put their needs first, more times than not. If this means stealing, so be it. If it means cheating, it is for them, therefore, it is okay.
Liars for companies means trouble. Everything from shrinkage to gaming the system to claim disability.
Since this question provokes thoughts of shoplifting at Walmart, I do the "prompts" system, giving prompts to the subject.
It goes something like this:
"Tell me about yourself..."
This is very open ended and allows the subject to begin where he or she feels most important. Here we learn anything and everything from childhood abuse to substance abuse, and anything in between.
"What is your favorite movie?"
This is the tangent question. I secretly root for a Cary Grant movie, but hey, that's me. Last week I interviewed a young female who talked about dancing. I said, "Oh, like Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers?" to which she answered, "Who's that?"
"Have you ever stolen?
Most answer "no." This is where Prompt Number One enters:
"When I was 16, I worked at McDonald's, and when pretty girls came through the Drive Thru, I gave them free french fries. It was stealing and it was wrong, but it is what I did. Have you ever stolen?"
This usually brings a signal of understanding and an anecdote of taking something that did not belong to them. Remember, I am still using the morally charged language of "stolen" and not "taken."
If the answer remains "no", I go to Prompt Number Two:
"Last week I was in the bank and I walked out, inadvertently, with their pen. You ever taken anything?"
Here is where the morally neutral language of "taken" is introduced. Now the subject is ready. Most only need one prompt, but some still need me to move away from "stealing" to "taken."
This produces many comical answers.
Two weeks ago, a subject brought me to Strike Three, I mean, Prompt #3.
"You've never taken anything that did not belong to you? Never borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend?"
She stood her ground, "No, never. Not once have I ever taken anything that did not belong to me."
She was over 50 years of age.
She had never told a lie and never took anything that did not belong to her. I was in the presence of deity.
I also did not hire her.
On the job application where I ask about honesty, she dropped pronouns right at the part of her story about never telling a lie.
Later, a worker approached me.
"Did you hire her?" she asked.
I just smiled as it is not something I discuss. "Why, do you have any concerns?"
"I sure as *(*^ do! I know her. She is a walking law suit. She is constantly filing law suits against anyone she can seeking payouts."
I thanked the worker for his input.