Applicant impression management (IM), and especially its deceptive side (i.e., faking), has been described as a potential threat to the validity of employment interviews. This threat was confirmed by evidence of interviewers’ inability to detect (deceptive) IM tactics. Previous studies suggested that some interviewers could be better IM detectors than others, but did not examine the reasons explaining higher abilities. Building on interpersonal deception theory, this study explores individual differences in cognitions (i.e., cognitive ability) and social sensitivity (associated with generalized trust and honesty) as predictors of IM detection abilities. Results of a study with 250 individuals suggest that these individual differences did not independently predict IM detection. Although high trust was associated with higher IM detection when combined with high cognitive ability, a high-trust/low-ability combination appears to be the most harmful for detection. Organizations may consider fighting applicant deception by relying on interviewers who are high cognitive ability trusters.

Corresponding Author Information

Nicolas Roulin



Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba; 181 Freedman Crescent, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 5V4 (Canada)