Interviewees will attempt occasionally to inject religion into the interview. You may have heard some of these rejoinders before:
I swear to _____[fill in the blank God, Allah, Buddha, etc.)
I swear on a stack of Bibles….
As God is my witness….
In the name of God.
So help me God, I would never lie.
I go to church every Sunday. I would never do ___________ [fill in the blank]
The strategy is convoluted. The interviewee is trying to persuade the interviewer of their moral purity. The interviewee is as straight as an arrow and does not engage in any activities that would be considered to be illegal, immoral or irreligious Stealing, lying and other sinful type behaviours are not a part of their makeup. The interviewee is hoping the interviewer will draw a false conclusion from these statements; a religious person would never lie or commit a sin. So, the person being interviewed is innocent of any possible wrongdoing.
Psychologists call these responses an extreme form of “dressing up the lie”.
So, how do we handle these types of deception? Ask more probing questions. What do they mean when they say these things? Why do they use these expressions? Do they use them often? Is the only way they can be truthful is if they swear on a stack of Bibles?
Your questions may not lead you anywhere but will put the interviewee on notice that you are listening carefully and looking for potential red flags that may cause deception.
Stay tuned for more blogs on other types of interviewing deceptions.