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The Fake Candidate Scam & How to Prevent It

The job market is booming, and the perfect IT candidate is harder to find than ever. With so many job opportunities available, simply finding good candidates to present to our clients feels like a victory in itself. Sometimes it’s luck, more often it’s skill but, either way, securing the right person for the job has become a lot more difficult. Factor in the growing number of “fake” candidates saturating the market and things start to get even more complicated.

What Do You Mean Fake?

Fake candidates have always been around, but the problem escalated with the onset of Covid-19 and the subsequent rise in remote work. In its most mild form, these candidates simply find ways to pass interviews and technical screening. It’s not until they’ve been working for a while that the employer realizes that they don’t have the proper skills for the position. More insidiously, the candidate who shows up for the job is an entirely different person than the one who interviewed, which has become more of issue in the remote working world. This happens every day, and is a quick and easy way for third party vendors to make some money until they get caught.

How to Spot Them

There are ways for us to prevent it, fortunately. It can be easy to spot fake candidates if a recruiter is thorough. Often, the resume will read like a manual for the job you’re trying to fill, complete with every keyword, buzzword and skillset you want to see. Generally speaking, if a resume seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Sometimes, it’s the dates on a resume – they don’t match up or there seems to be a discrepancy. It’s worth calling the candidate but checking on the dates becomes a necessity. LinkedIn becomes crucial – nine times out of ten, a fake candidate’s resume will change to match the job they’re trying to get so pulling up a LinkedIn profile to compare to the resume will help uncover red flags. If the candidate doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile, that’s a major red flag unto itself.

Be Thorough with Your Interviews

Yet even the most thorough recruiters can’t always spot the fakes via the resume, and so it comes down to an interview. Telephone interviews are useful but there is very little guarantee that the person you talk to is the person who will eventually show up for the job. Thankfully, video interviews today are common practice, and are ideal for screening potential hires, both for competency and to ensure you’re not getting scammed.

The most common way for a candidate to scam during a video interview is to wear an earpiece and have the answers to technical questions ‘fed’ to them by a more knowledgeable third party. Granted, not everyone who wears headphones or an earpiece is cheating as headphones do make for a clearer connection during a video call. However, if there is a pause after a technical question is asked, and it appears that the candidate is spending a little too much time coming up with a response, that can be a red flag. The same goes for chat windows on the screen. If the candidate’s eyes are flickering away, they could be reading a chat window to recite their responses.

Ways to Verify Your Candidates

During interviews, you can ask candidates to share their screen so that you can make sure there aren’t any red flag activities. Don’t be afraid to ask them to verify their identity when you start the interview either. Have them show an ID to the you via the camera so you can make sure they are who they say they are. Last but certainly not least, ask for references – and then check the references. This is the best way to find out if a job history has been fabricated or even if the candidate has even pulled this old switcheroo’ routine before.

While there is no 100% foolproof way to stop the smartest scammers from fooling us, these are simple ways we can do our jobs in order to protect our clients. Taking the extra time to do our job properly is worth it to protect our reputations as a quality staffing company.  

Photo Credit: Canva

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