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BLOG: Combating Candidate Fraud

Have you experienced candidate fraud?

Recruiting high-performing employees for our teams, and our clients and projects, is difficult enough. The availability of talent – particularly in niche skills – is in short supply, and we face ever-increasing urgency in client demands. On top of these typical challenges, however, companies in our industry are dealing with an increasing incidence of candidate fraud.

The problem is real, and it’s growing. The impact on our firms and our clients can be significant. If the wrong candidate is put in place, projects can be stalled, or thrown off the rails altogether. Our clients, missing critical deliverables, are frustrated and angry. In turn, our firm’s client relationships and reputation suffer.

There are several reasons why this kind of fraud is increasing in frequency, and a number of ways to spot and stop it.

Remote Interviewing: Part of the Problem

One factor in the recent uptick of this kind of scheme is the ubiquitous use of video interviewing – rather than in-person interviews – as the norm. Fraudsters are using the reliance on this technology to deceive unwary recruiters. In an interview, we naturally assume that the person being interviewed is the one answering the question, but that may not be the case. One red flag to watch for is a candidate who – claiming technical difficulties – won’t start their video, or periodically turns it off throughout the interview. In this case, you have no way to ascertain that you’re interviewing the person you think you are, or that they’re not getting outside help with their answers.

Even if the candidate consistently appears on camera, however, you can’t be entirely sure you’re getting the real deal. If you’ve sent interview questions ahead of time, some people will get help to prepare canned answers and memorize them to read in the interview. Some fraudsters work with an off-camera partner who feeds them answers to your questions in headphones. Incredibly, some of these con artists appear on camera, and lip-sync as their off-screen partner answers the questions.

The Impersonator and the Double Dipper

The risk of harm is real. Perhaps you’ve found a candidate with the skills and experience you need, and excellent communication skills. You set up an interview, and they nail it. They’re a great fit for the role – or so they seem – and they’re able to start with your client when you need them to. There’s just one problem. The person that shows up to the work site on the first day isn’t the person who interviewed for the job. The impersonator, lacking the skills and abilities you were assessing for, can slow projects down or sink them altogether, and can cause irreparable damage to your reputation with your client.

Even if the candidate you’ve placed is the same person who interviewed for the job, there are still other forms of candidate fraud to watch for. With remote employees in particular, double-dipping is becoming a more frequent problem. When a consultant is working somewhere other than a client site, it’s difficult to be sure they’re not dividing their time between more than one client. Again, there’s a real risk associated with this fraud. Since these consultants are juggling priorities, they have a habit of being mysteriously and unpredictably absent, and missing deliverables. As a result, your client reputation can suffer.

There Are Solutions

Happily, just as those who would commit fraud are using technology in their schemes, technology can also be used to stop them.

Employers and recruiters are borrowing from the education sector, using online proctoring software that was initially designed to remotely monitor students taking exams. This software has many ways to ensure the user is doing what they’re supposed to do. It can analyze eye movement to ensure that the user isn’t looking at different browser windows, tally up the user’s time away from their chair (to make sure that a ‘bio break’ isn’t actually a study break), and listen for background noise that would indicate someone else is assisting them. For identity verification purposes, there’s software that employs biometric technology to examine facial movements and vocal tone to ensure that the person on screen is actually the one responding.

Because there’s an immigration law aspect to the problem of candidate fraud, the government also works to protect and support employers. When a previously vetted employee moves from one company to another, the USCIS cross-checks documentation, comparing new documents against those submitted earlier to ensure consistency. There are extremely severe penalties for document fraud, and there’s a tip form in place to report incidents of fraud involving immigration visas.

In addition to technology tools and government oversight, companies have a role to play in fighting candidate fraud.

Transparency: A Powerful Deterrent

One of the simplest and easiest tools you can put to use right away is transparency. Communicate to candidates that you treat fraud very seriously. Making that declaration up front can be a surprisingly effective deterrent. If you are using technology to support your efforts, so much the better. Naturally, if you’re using any video recording technology, you’ll have to inform candidates for privacy reasons. At the same time, let your candidates know that you’ve got tools in place to help uncover deception. Some studies suggest that as many as one third of people who were planning to commit fraud will drop out of the process if they think it’s likely they’ll be found out. Working two jobs is permitted under the H-1B program, so if you’re concerned about double-dipping, make sure your employment contract specifically prohibits the employee from taking work with another company. Once again, communicating this prominently – along with a clearly stated consequence up to and including termination – serves as a powerful disincentive to those who would commit fraud.

The TechServe Alliance Career Passport

We know the risk to you and your business is real, and we want to help protect you. With more confidence in the integrity of your candidates, and with less checking and rechecking of credentials, you can place more talented professionals faster. That’s why we’re excited to let you know about our new partnership with Veremark, a leading international company that provides a powerful global reference, identity, and background check platform. Together, we’re introducing a program called the TechServe Alliance Career Passport. Simply put, this passport is a set of portable digital credentials which can be used to verify a candidate’s identity and credentials. Blockchain technology means you can rest assured that the data hasn’t been tampered with.

Want to know more? We hosted a forum to discuss the issues surrounding candidate fraud and talk more about this new partnership. The discussion was co-hosted by TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts along with Sarah Martin, President of both Dale Workforce Solutions and TechServe Alliance, with guests Daniel Callaghan, CEO of Veremark, and Michael Hammond, Senior Partner and Founder of the Hammond Law Group.

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