Video job interviews are the best way to weed out fake candidates and avoid phone interview fraud, says former recruiter Jeff Altman.

Camera lens closeup
Photo by Steve Johnson

For many years, phone interviews have been the norm for many forms of initial screening by recruiters, both corporate and third party, as well as hiring managers.

A recent video appeared on YouTube of a job hunter being interviewed over Skype for a consulting assignment and being exposed as a fraud:

The job hunter’s attempt to lip-sync answers to interview questions looks like old Italian Hercules movies being dubbed into English, while over his microphone you can hear the person off-camera who was actually answering the questions.

Thinking back to my time in search [Jacob: as a recruiter] before transitioning into career coaching, I remember several second and third conversations with job applicants who originally sounded a little like the one above during our first calls together. I am a pretty bright guy and attributed it to a memory lapse. Now it seems like early instances of fake candidates doing exactly what “Hercules” did in this video.

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You may think this is as an outlier occurrence. It isn’t.

I was once contacted by a senior technologist who was approached for remote work which was in fact ghost work, i.e. logging in remotely to the computer of someone who was unable to perform the job and doing a few hours of work for them that they would otherwise not be able to perform.

As I mentioned in a comment on the YouTube video, the technologist wrote:

“I wanted to share a few recent activities that are happening post clearing fake interviews.

The candidates that clear the interviews after joining the respective organizations are indeed unable to work. They contact the consultancy who helped them get the fake interview and then these consultancies also get ghost workers for these candidates.

These ghost workers are the people sitting somewhere out of the US and for little money would help these candidates clear their regular tasks. Basically, the candidates share their desktop (no NDA signed here) and let the offshore ghost worker handle their regular assignments for an hour or two and somehow get safe from being caught…

Some consultancy recently contacted me to be a ghost worker for an employee. I rejected the contract but I then got to know from a few friends that this is a big scam already going on. I was contacted by the consultancy on pretext of getting a remote job.”

How do you feel about someone logging in remotely to do work for an employee or consultant?

You might think this is only a risk for people hired for consulting roles. As I reflect back, it occurred many times during my own career in search.

For example, someone posing as the candidate would do the initial phone screen and the initial phone interview with me prior to being invited for in-person interviews with my client. I remember receiving feedback about a candidate's poor oral communications when my conversations with “them” had been clear as a bell, or failing to answer questions in person that had already been discussed over the phone initially.

In order to head off such phone interview fraud, it is now time to make a shift from phone to video during initial rounds of interviews. Even if you dismiss the risk as one that can be caught during the in-person interview, time has been wasted on the part of your screener and the first level interview.

Job hunters have also been adversely affected by this. After all, you are competing with ringers: experts whose words and voice are used to fool employers. It is certainly possible to lose out on positions you have really wanted because the fake candidate has better skills than you. Video interviews will prevent these phonies from defeating you.

These days, there are many different tools available for conducting video interviews that are inexpensive and easy to work with. Let's make the change now.

Question of the article

As a recruiter, do you feel that video interviews will solve the fake candidate issue once and for all?

As a job seeker, would you insist on a video interview when a recruiter asks for a phone interview?

Tell us in the comments.

More on fake candidates

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About the author

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes, “Job Search Radio,” and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice,” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn, then message him to schedule an initial complimentary session. If you are outside the US, Jeff will only accept your connection request if you mention this article.

Subscribe to JobMob via email and follow me on Twitter for more tips about being authentic in phone interviews.

Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Don Park

    Interesting article.

    However, I disagree fully. If you have enough time to have a face to face interview, make it in person — video interviews are fraught with potential pitfalls on so many levels where it really doesn’t make sense to have one unless the interviewers are in a location where they can’t physically meet.

    Face to face always wins — then phone calls — and don’t even get me started on using instant messenger or other gimmicks to make interviews better.


  2. Jeff Altman

    Thanks for commenting.

    A lot of job hunters, particularly among the honest ones, like the convenience of not getting in their car or taking the subway for a screening interview when it can be done conveniently on their phones. Putting aside the environmental factors of folks spending gas to go somewhere, frankly, we’ve all gotten spoiled! There is certainly a point where face to face is essential for building the relationship/trust needed for both parties but during screening, job hunters have gotten spoiled with the ease of interviewing by phone. As I point out, like everything, people who want to cheat figure out ways to do so. Video screening allows people to continue to have their cake without employers having to eat the consequences of fraud.

  3. Jacob Share

    My biggest problem with video interviews is that most people, especially older job seekers, don’t know enough about video production to not make a bad impression on video calls. The candidate won’t usually care if the recruiter’s video quality sucks, but it will be a lot harder for a recruiter to not care if the candidate’s video quality sucks.

  4. Arunkumar Tharanichelvan

    Yes video interview is the way to go. But does that stop the candidates from not trying to cheat? No is the answer. The recruiting process has become really really tiring and we are stuck in the first step of screening the candidates to make sure they are not fake. I don’t know if I’m unlucky but 90% of the profiles that I get are fake.

    How do we solve this problem? Any ideas?

    1. Jacob Share

      While I’m not a recruiter – and I hope that other recruiters respond as well – I have to think that if most of the profiles you’re getting are fake, it’s likely because there’s a problem with your job listing. If you’ve already looked into that and are convinced the problem is something else, remove the listings completely and focus on sourcing instead.

      Vetting candidates is always going to be an issue but you can certainly make it less challenging by pro-actively aiming for candidates who consistently show off their expertise publicly. Especially if it’s on YouTube where you can see and hear them.

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