Saturday, October 27, 2012

Yes Or No Questions In Interviewing

photo by Yaz Photography

Yes or No questions are the easiest to lie to.  Therefore, it is imperative that each and every word that accompanies the single, "yes" or "no" response be measured carefully. 

For those of you who are in Human Resources and are interviewing prospective employees, you likely run background checks for criminal history. 

Please note that these background checks only include adjudication of a case and this is often the result of a plea bargain.  Many people are convicted of something less than what they committed.  There is a good way to deal with this in the form of a "yes or no" question:

"Have you ever been arrested?"

This is, obviously, a "yes or no" question.  

A recent inquiry went this way:

Interviewer:   "Have you ever been arrested?"

Subject:  "Have I ever been arrested?  Once."

You noticed that he repeated the question meaning, "this question is sensitive" as the subject is pausing to think of it.  This could be anything from being surprised at such a question being asked in a job interview (I ask this of everyone), or it could be that the subject needs time to consider the question, indicating that there may be more information awaiting you. 


Instead of  "yes" or "no", the subject has gone "outside the boundary" of the question.  Anything and everything outside the boundary of the question is critical for the analyst or interviewer.  

Here, he employed a "number" within his answer. 

After the subject finished explaining his "once" arrest, I followed:

Interviewer:   "When else were you arrested?"

Notice that I assumed that he was arrested a second time.  Remember, he introduced a number instead of answering "yes" or "no" as expected.  By going outside the boundary of the question, and by using a number, he alerted me that there may have been a second, and even a third arrest.

There was. 

As he continued, he eventually made it to his third arrest. 

Yet, his background check came back clean.  Sometimes the background checks do not include everything, and even when they do, there is an element of "minimization" due to the process of plea bargaining.  Also, if someone, for example, has been arrested many times for drugs, but never formally convicted, it may show up blank and does not tell the risk the company is taking in hiring.  The interview process should be to gather information. 

What one is convicted of does not tell the whole story.  The pattern of three arrests all had to do with drugs and violence.  

What he was now facing was violence related allegations. 

History is the best predictor of the future.  

The interview process should be analytical meaning:

Get a writing sample from all prospective employees prior to hiring. 

When conducting the interview:

1.  Open Ended Questions
2.  Follow up questions based upon the language used in part one (above) 
3.  Questions based upon the analysis of the submitted statement

Next, conducting the actual interview for employment:  "Analytical Interviewing"


Lorraine said...

I totally agree with getting the interview answers in writing, but for different (but similiar) reasons. MUCH can be gathered by a handwriting sample. Handwriting analysis is a great tool in finding out a person's personality traits and also if they are prone to honesty and deception.

Graphology is a fascinating science, as is statement analysis. I like to learn about both and use them. I have found out so much information by doing so.

John Mc Gowan said...

Lorraine,i have to disagree,Graphology is no more like reading someones palm,tea leaves or bumps on the head,its all bumpkin in my opinion.

However Forensic Graphology is a science.

If for instance you wrote a ransom letter and denied it,the forensic Graphologist would get a hand writing sample from you and would compare with the ransom note.

They would look how you write certain words and letters and compare the two to see if your hand writing style is the same..

John Mc Gowan said...

Thus being able to illiminate you or implicate you..

dawn soca said...

I sure wish our HR would do more thorough interviewing for new hires. this is VERY Often the case - the crooks and fraud ring members go from bank to bank. HR always thinks its a plus to have prior banking experience, while I'm thinking "why? why did they leave x bank, who pays more, to come work for us?". the background check is a joke. they are almost never prosecuted for prior financial crimes, and if so, plead down to misdemeanors. I've wwondered if introducing an ethics test might help. Peter, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Apple said...

"History is the best predictor of the future"
This is not SA but i have used this many times with friends who question their relationships. It is true.

Lorraine said...

John, I would have to respecfully disagree. I invite you to look into the science of graphology and you will see that it has absoulutely nothing to do with reading palms or any other mystical things. If you do some research on the subject you will see that it is also a "science."

Of course, anyone is open to their own opinions but I feel that you should look into something first before labeling it something that it really is not.

shmi said...

Thanks for this! Very helpful!

Anonymous said...

Is there a lesson (post) specifically on out of bounds answers? I'd have a field day reading that one!

Anonymous said...

Peter, could you please do an SA on this link here. I tried to copy and paste but it was too long. This is the transcript of the radio interview. The daughter was stalked for four months and then found dead in her bed. The mother is challenging the the ruling of suicide, and feels the department and the city are involved in a massive cover-up.
I'd like to know what SA says about this.There's a lot of dispute over what really happened/when and it's getting rather vicious.

brosnanfan said...

Off-topic, possibly:

An interesting article about the DA in 1998 (when the first allegations about Jerry Sandusky came up), who came up missing in 2005.

brosnanfan said...

And one more:

John Mc Gowan said...

Graphologists, or graphoanalyists, examine loops, dotted "i's" and crossed "t's," letter spacing, slants, heights, ending strokes, upslant pressure, downslant pressure, etc., but they believe that such handwriting minutiae are physical manifestations of unconscious mental functions. Graphologists believe such details can reveal as much about a person as astrology , palm reading, psychometry, rumpology, or the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator. However, there is no evidence that the unconscious mind is a reservoir of truth about a person, much less that graphology provides a gateway to that reservoir.

John Mc Gowan said...

Graphology is claimed to be useful for everything from understanding health issues, morality and past experiences to hidden talents and mental problems.* However, "in properly controlled, blind studies, where the handwriting samples contain no content that could provide non-graphological information upon which to base a prediction (e.g., a piece copied from a magazine), graphologists do no better than chance at predicting... personality traits...." ["The Use of Graphology as a Tool for Employee Hiring and Evaluation," from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association] And even non-experts are able to correctly identify the gender of a writer about 70% of the time (Furnham, 204

John Mc Gowan said...

Adrian Furnham writes:

Readers familiar with the techniques of cold reading will be able to understand why graphology appears to work and why so many (otherwise intelligent) people believe in it. [p. 204]

Add to cold reading, the Barnum effect, confirmation bias, communal reinforcement, the Forer effect, and subjective validation and you have a fairly complete explanation for graphology's popularity.

Graphology is another pipe dream of those who want a quick and dirty decision making process to tell them who to marry, who did the crime, who they should hire, what career they should seek, where the good hunting is, where the water, oil, or buried treasure is, etc. Graphology is another in a long list of quack substitutes for hard work. It is appealing to those who are impatient with such troublesome matters as research, evidence analysis, reasoning, logic, and hypothesis testing. If you want results and you want them now and you want them stated in strong, certain terms, graphology is for you. If, however, you can live with reasonable probabilities and uncertainty, you might try another method to pick a spouse or hire an employee

Statement Analysis Blog said...


Mark McClish has done seminars that were dual: Statement Analysis and Handwriting Analysis, one day each.

Thus far, I have been disappointed by the Handwriting Analysis material that I have read and remain unconvinced of its efficacious use.

I find that everything pales when compared to what words someone chooses.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the Ray Gricar links Brosnan fan. I've read similar articles in the past, and as always they bring back to mind the speculation as to how Gricar could have been involved (and was) in his failure to prosecute Sandusky thirteen years before he was finally prosecuted. That's thirteen additional LONG years Sandusky had to continue his unbridled molestations and rapes of little boys, destroying their lives.

It was Gricar's exclusive decision not to prosecute Sandusky back in 1998 thereby closing the file. NO ONE person should EVER have that much power that they can make the sole decision that a disgusting pedophile should not be prosecuted and can just close the file, allowing that perp to continue in his evil like Gricar allowed Sandusky to do; defying logic and all the work uncovered by investigators at that time.

You think about it long enough, and Gricar deserved his untimley and mysterious end.

brosnanfan said...

Anon 7:26:

But did he really come to an untimely and mysterious end? If I remember right, no body has ever been found. It would be interesting to find out that after all this time, he turns up alive in Mexico or Bolivia or the Philippines or somewhere like that.

IF he did turn up, do you think he would face prosecution for his part in the Sandusky cover-up?