It’s no exaggeration to say that if you currently have a job, you likely told a few fibs or bent the truth a little to land it.

According to new research from the University of Guelph, a staggering 100 per cent of study participants admitted they would use some form of deception or stretch the truth in a job interview.

This deception included outright fibbing, exaggeration, hiding negative information or simply mirroring what they felt the interviewer wanted to hear – for example, if an interviewer said they valued punctuality, the applicant might say he or she did too – even if this wasn’t true.

“It’s not that surprising. It’s fairly common,” Jordan Ho, the lead author of a study, told over the phone. “I think not a lot of people would consider (some of these behaviours) to be deception in the first place.”

Ho explained that job interviews are a unique kind of social interaction because they are a cross between a first date and a high-pressure test – one where applicants need to make a good first impression and cram in as many good qualities as possible in a short amount of time.

One of Ho's team’s other main findings was that people were likely to deceive or exaggerate more when the pool of applicants was small and when there were only a few people who would go on to be hired.

“What was unique about that scenario was that … they were willing to use (deception) to the highest extent,” said Ho, a PhD candidate in university’s psychology department.

Ho explained that while it might be logical to presume that a smaller competition pool would be decrease people’s urge to deceive, his team found that wasn’t the case.

To explain this, Ho likened this specific scenario to a foot race. In a foot race of 100 people, you’d be hard-pressed to notice many details or individual traits of your competitors.

“But if you’re racing against a small number of people like 10, people will feel more competitive because you can see where all the racers are relative to you,” he explained. “You can see how hard they’re trying, how far behind you are and you might be more motivated to compete.”

Overall, Ho's team hypothesized that bending the truth was likely due to a number of reasons including the high pressure of failing, the need to please the interviewer, and the urge to say anything rather than nothing.

For the study, which is set to be published in the Journal of Personnel Psychology in April, researchers gave 775 respondents a series of different interview scenarios. Each of those scenarios varied the number of competitors and ratio of people who’d eventually be hired.

Participants were then given a series of questions to answer and rate their own deception on a scale of one to five -- with one meaning they wouldn’t deceive at all.

In every scenario, no participant ever responded with a zero to every single question. This meant each of the respondents admitted they could be compelled to exaggerate or deceive at least a little on this scale.

So how can employers cut down on lying applicants? Ho suggests not telling prospective employees how competitive the job is or how many people will end up being hired.