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How to spot fake interview candidates

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today: Is the person you interviewed the same person who shows up on the first day of work? Plus, injuries at Amazon fulfillment centers and customer service agent turnover.

—Amber Burton, Journalist (E-mail | Twitter)

A lesson in fake interviews

You may have seen this banana reader submission on Alison Green’s Ask A Manager blog on Monday. If not, here’s a brief summary: The reader’s husband, who works in IT at a “medium-sized private company”, realizes that the new recruit “John” is not the same candidate he interviewed. He has different hair and glasses, different life details, and cannot answer basic work-related questions. “John” ends up quitting before HR can fully interview him. After that, it is inaccessible. End scene.

John’s motives are unclear. It’s possible he just wants a better paid job. A more sinister explanation is that he wanted access to company information. Anyway, this begs the question: Do candidates really use replacements to succeed in job interviews?

I had certainly never heard of this before. Neither does Ariel Lopez, CEO of recruitment platform Knac and former recruiter. “I’ve seen crazy things, but I’ve never seen anyone pretending to be someone else in an interview,” she said.

But Nick Shah, president of IT recruitment firm Peterson Technology Partners, said this has been happening in the computer industry for quite some time. Swapping physical locations for an interview is rare (it’s kind of a dead giveaway if you show up to work and look like a different person). But asking someone to provide you with answers in a video interview? It’s quite common.

  • “I call it the dark side of recruiting,” Shah told me. “There’s a terminology in the industry that people call ‘proxy’. It’s your face on the camera, but someone else is speaking on your behalf.
  • Cases of fake job applicants have spiked during the pandemic, prompting Shah to write this post on LinkedIn in November 2020. He says it’s easy to find someone who will help you ace an interview. “There are actually companies that advertise they will help you with your interviews and charge you $500 to $700 per interview,” Shah said.
  • Companies need to be vigilant about bogus applicants, Shah said. They are expensive, especially for technology companies with tight project deadlines. And that sucks for real talented candidates who need jobs.

The tech job market is crazy. This may be the root of some of today’s wacky hiring mishaps. Brian Kropp, head of HR research at Gartner, said he’s heard all kinds of crazy work stories: employees working remotely for two companies simultaneously, blatant lies on resumes, people taking technical assessment tests for each other.

  • “I can totally see how [John’s story] could happen, because companies are trying to hire people so quickly and there’s such a demand to hire people that they’re not doing the same due diligence that they would have done before,” Kropp said.
  • Especially in a largely isolated world where we’ve never met some of our colleagues, Kropp can see how a bogus candidate could slip through the cracks.

Here are some ways companies can ward off fake candidates.

  • A simple solution is to point out that you have zero tolerance for lying upfront. That may be all it takes to scare off some dishonest applicants. “[S]Start your recruiting process by saying, “We’re a company with great integrity,” Kropp said. “’We don’t tolerate people lying, being dishonest or disrespecting each other. When that happens, we fire people.
  • Shah has several techniques to see if an interview candidate is using outside help. His company mandates video interviews in a well-lit room, on a computer and without headphones. He pays close attention to a candidate’s mouth and audio to ensure they are in sync. He also watches eye movements to see if they are looking at anyone else in the room. Asking a candidate to share their screen also helps weed out fakes.

The internet is full of scams. Fake candidates, fake jobs, etc. Still, this Ask A Manager reader submission threw me for a loop. I’d almost admire John’s audacity, if it didn’t waste real people time and money. It seems so much easier to spend time learning job skills or learning about the benefits of a company education. Lopez has a little advice for anyone trying to fake a job: “Presenting yourself authentically is extremely important. The best way to do this is not to lie about your identity. I didn’t think that was something that needed to be said in 2022, but clearly I’m wrong.”

—Lizzy Lawrence, Journalist (E-mail | Twitter)

Injuries in Amazon warehouses are skyrocketing

High expectations for productivity in Amazon warehouses have led to an increase in workplace accidents. Now states are starting to crack down on the company. Unsurprisingly, Amazon has been tight-lipped about some of its productivity quotas, frustrating politicians. Washington State Senator Steve Conway asked to visit Amazon DuPont’s fulfillment center in Washington following quotes from the state’s Labor Department: They let him a visit, but sent him to another institution. Today, he is a co-sponsor and author of a bill pending in Washington state to improve transparency in Amazon’s productivity metrics. A similar bill was recently signed into law in California and went into effect last month. It’s an uphill battle for reform that also requires a wake-up call from Amazon workers, my colleague Anna Kramer wrote. For the law to have a measurable impact in California and for other states to follow suit, warehouse workers need to know that they now have the right to request expectations and productivity data.

Read the full story.


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Today’s tips and tools

Where do we go to create a simple web page these days? You can fire up Medium, shell out for Squarespace, or whip up a Wix. Or, if you regularly use Notion, you can just… use Notion.

In her ongoing series on how people who create productivity tools use those productivity tools, the journalist Lizzy Lawrence spoke to David Tibbitts, one of Notion’s early employees. Tibbitts showed him how to turn his notions into public websites in seconds: just click “share” and “share to web.”

Read the full story.

Customer service agents are leaving faster than ever

The pandemic has been difficult for workers in all industries, but one of the toughest roles to fill right now is customer service. Customer service roles had high levels of turnover before the pandemic, but the higher demands and strains over the past two years have increased the pressure on customer service agents. “If you add the current challenges such as supply chain shortages, omicron and the resulting slower delivery and service times, and customers feeling frustrated, I think we see across the board service contact of employees who are under immense pressure. This is causing the Great Resignation to accelerate,” said Clara Shih, CEO of Service Cloud at Salesforce.

A critical role at most tech companies, customer service employees have shifted from working in well-supported call centers to working from home, and many have been burdened with under-resources and customer frustrations. clients. A new survey from Salesforce has revealed that companies will need to do a lot more to retain some of their most critical employees. Here are the highlights:

  • The top three challenges reported by customer service agents include: burnout, customer satisfaction, and access to career development opportunities.
  • 71% of customer service agents have considered quitting their job in the past six months.
  • 69% of respondents said they were considering quitting their job in customer service altogether.
  • 86% of service agents said they needed more from their business to stay. Specifically, they want better compensation, career development opportunities and better management.
  • 50% of customer service managers who responded said they had seen an increase in quits in their departments.

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Opinion: Howard University School of Business assistant dean Yuvay Meyers Ferguson believes the big quit is actually the big transition.

Monster’s Future of Work survey indicates that skilled workers are still hard to find.

around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the furthest corners of the internet.

A look at who’s being left out of the big resignation conversation.

A recruiter offered negotiation tips on Twitter this week. The backlash was quick.

A few talking points to add to your next conversation about the merits of pay transparency.


Whether you work on the top floor or in the shop floor, Workplace celebrates who you are and what you can bring to your business. Discover where you can be more you.

Learn more

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