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What happens when the new hire and the interview candidate are not the same person

Protocol Workplace

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

—Amber Burton, reporter (email | twitter)

A lesson in fake interviews

You might have seen this bananas reader submission on Alison Green’s Ask A Manager blog on Monday. If not, here’s a quick summary: The reader’s husband, who works in IT at a “midsized private company,” realizes that new hire “John” is not the same candidate he interviewed. He has different hair and glasses, different life details and can’t answer basic questions related to the job. “John” ends up quitting before HR can fully interrogate him. After that, he’s unreachable. End scene.

John’s motivations are unclear. It’s possible he just wanted a higher-paying job. A more sinister explanation is that he wanted access to company information. Regardless, it raises the question: Are job candidates really using stand-ins to ace job interviews?

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

But Nick Shah, president of IT staffing company Peterson Technology Partners, said this has been happening in the IT industry for quite some time. Swapping physical places 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 having someone feed you answers in a video interview? That’s pretty 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 somebody else is speaking on your behalf.”
  • Instances of fake candidates have ramped up during the pandemic, prompting Shah to write this LinkedIn post in November 2020. He says it’s easy to find someone who will help you ace an interview. “There are actually companies out there that advertise that they will help you with your interviews, and charge you $500 to $700 per interview,” Shah said.
  • Companies need to be vigilant when it comes to fake candidates, Shah said. They’re costly, especially for tech companies with tight project deadlines. And it sucks for the real, talented candidates who are in need of jobs.

The tech labor market is nuts. That may be behind some of today’s outlandish hiring mishaps. Brian Kropp, chief of HR Research at Gartner, said he’s heard all kinds of crazy job stories: employees working remotely for two companies simultaneously, blatant resume lies, 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 fast 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 remote world where we’ve never met some of our co-workers, Kropp can see how a fake candidate might slip through the cracks.

Here are some ways companies can ward off fake candidates.

  • A simple solution is emphasizing that you have zero tolerance for lying upfront. That might be all it takes to scare away some dishonest applicants. "[S]tart your recruitment process by saying, 'We’re a company that has high integrity,'” Kropp said. “'We don't tolerate people lying or 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 make sure they sync up. He also looks at eye movement to see if they’re glancing at anyone else in the room. Asking a candidate to share their screen also helps weed the fakes out.

The internet is full of scams. Fake candidates, fake jobs, you name it. 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’s time and money. It seems so much easier to either spend time learning the job’s skills or to inquire about a company’s education benefits. Lopez has a bit of advice for anyone trying to fake their way into a job: “It’s incredibly important to show up authentically. The best way to do that is to not 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, reporter (email | twitter)

Amazon warehouse injuries soar

Lofty expectations for productivity in Amazon warehouses have resulted in an increase in workplace injuries. Now, states are starting to crack down on the company. Amazon has been unsurprisingly tight-lipped about some of its productivity quotas, causing frustration among politicians. Washington’s state Sen. Steve Conway asked to tour Amazon’s DuPont, Washington, fulfillment center following citations from the state’s labor department: They let him take a tour, but sent him to a different facility. Now, he’s the co-sponsor and author of a bill under consideration in Washington state targeted at improving the transparency of 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 awareness among Amazon’s workers, wrote my colleague Anna Kramer. For the law to have a measurable impact in California and for other states to follow suit, warehouse workers need to know they now have the right to ask for productivity expectations and data.

Read the full story.


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Today's tips & tools

Where does one go to build a simple webpage these days? You could fire up Medium, shell out for Squarespace or whisk up a Wix. Or, if you regularly use Notion, you can just … use Notion.

In her ongoing series on how the people who build productivity tools use those productivity tools, reporter Lizzy Lawrence talked to David Tibbitts, one of Notion’s earliest employees. Tibbitts showed her how to turn her Notions into public websites in just a few seconds: Just click “share” and “share to web.”

Read the full story.

Customer service agents are leaving faster than ever

The pandemic has been hard on workers in all industries, but one of the hardest roles to work in right now is customer service. Customer service roles had high levels of turnover before the pandemic, but higher demands and constraints over the past two years has increased the pressure on customer service agents. “If you add the present-day challenges like supply chain shortages, omicron and the resulting slower delivery and service times, and customers feeling frustrated, I think we see across all service touchpoints employees who are under immense pressure. That's causing an acceleration of the Great Resignation,” said Clara Shih, CEO of Service Cloud at Salesforce.

A critical role at most tech companies, customer service workers went from working in well-supported call centers to working from their homes, and many have borne the brunt of insufficient resources and customer frustrations. A new survey from Salesforce found that companies will need to do a lot more to hold on to 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 leaving their job in the past six months.
  • 69% of respondents said they are considering leaving their jobs in customer service altogether.
  • 86% of service agents said they need more from their company in order to stay. More specifically, they want better compensation, career growth opportunities and better management.
  • 50% of customer service leaders who responded said they’ve observed an increase in resignations in their departments.

More from us

Workplace stories you might have missed.

This week’s “Ask a Tech Worker”: Are your co-workers quitting?

Figma is hoping companies will pay for a better way for tech workers to collaborate.

Opinion: The Howard University School of Business' assistant dean, Yuvay Meyers Ferguson, believes the Great Resignation is actually the Great Transition.

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

Around the internet

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

A look at who gets left out of the Great Resignation conversation.

A recruiter offered some negotiation advice on Twitter this week. The backlash was swift.

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


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

Learn more

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