Sales candidates have a propensity for…expanding the truth. That fact could be stated differently, but let’s stick with this wording. Elon Musk has accepted this fact, according to this Entrepreneur article. His approach:
…the mogul asks his aspirants to tell him one of the most difficult problems they have had to solve or face in their life and how they managed to overcome it.
According to the employer, the people who solved the problem know exactly how they did it and can describe the little details. However, those who lie will not be able to tell their story convincingly.
This approach is effective and revealing. We use a similar approach in our interviewing activities as we know the details are the key. A true story has vivid details and specifics (in sales, dollars are key). One noticeable approach from sales candidates is the tendency to speak in the theoretical. You will notice the candidate uses few, if any, details. Instead they speak in generalities, possibilities, and in a passive voice.
When you encounter a candidate in this mode, the best move is to drill down on their responses. Ask for details, challenge their vagueness and pursue a longer conversation. This approach will help you get to the truth following Elon Musk’s initial question.