HR and TA Professionals Beware: Interview Fraud and Applicant Scammers

March 2, 2022 by Verified First

Interview Fraud and Applicant Scammers

According to recent statistics, over 4.7 million Americans work in fully or partially remote roles. The popularity of remote work has plenty of perks for both the employer and the employee, but many companies have experienced a real and frightening problem when it comes to hiring applicants for remote positions. Interview fraud, otherwise known as interview scams or recruitment fraud, is on the rise, and unsuspecting companies are the target.

While interview fraud is a relatively new phenomenon, it’s not foolproof. HR and TA professionals can gain the upper hand against conmen (and women) through awareness. To help, we want to discuss what interview fraud is, how your company can identify applicant scammers and the best ways to prevent hiring a scammer. 

What is interview fraud?

When you think of scammers, fraudulent checks, stolen purchases, and snake oil salesmen might come to mind. However, interview fraud doesn’t fall under one specific crime. Interview fraud encompasses any falsification of applicant documents submitted on behalf of an applicant. The goal of an interview scammer is to obtain a position in an organization by giving deceitful information that makes them credible for a position they otherwise wouldn’t qualify for. Interview fraud can take any or a combination of the following:

  • Falsifying education credentials
  • Falsifying past work experience
  • Crediting experience to non-existent companies 
  • Using a proxy candidate in interviews 
  • Giving false references 

While this list is long, it doesn’t include every tactic an interview scammer might use. Remote roles are especially attractive to interview scammers because in-person interviews are not always a requirement. Inc. Magazine theorized the imbalance of today’s available talent and the urgent need of new hires in today’s talent market to be a contributing factor to the rise of interview fraud. Scammers know that many companies are desperate for talent, so they create a narrative that fits the need. 

How can I identify scammers in an interview?

If you’re a TA or HR professional, the idea of interview scammers is something out of a work-related nightmare. You spend countless hours recruiting and attracting talent, but it could be too good to be true. While there isn’t one sure way of identifying interview scammers, there are some specific questions to ask that will determine if the talent is the real deal or a scammer. 

  1. Ask specific location questions - If an interviewee claims to have onsite experience at a company in New York City, ask what area it’s in or what other businesses it’s near. By asking for details about the location, you can verify if that person knows the specifics without having to look up the information. 
  2. Ask for examples from past positions or degree requirements - It’s a bad idea to leave an applicant’s credentials unchecked. Especially when it comes to advanced degrees, many candidates don’t expect HR professionals to take the time and verify their credentials through background verification checks
  3. Ask to have a view of their hands-on video interviews - A common tactic seen by HR and TA professionals are search engine scammers, i.e. interviewees who search Google for the answer to technical questions throughout the interview. Ask the applicant to position themselves in a way where you can easily see their hands. This way, you’ll know for certain that their answers are coming from past experiences and not Wikipedia.

As a general rule to identify fraudulent interviewees, trust your gut. Truthful candidates will be eager to share their experience and won’t leave long pauses between a question and answer. While some nerves in an applicant are to be expected, shifty glances and excess fidgeting are body language signals that a person is being deceitful.

How can I prevent hiring a scammer? 

According to SHRM, the best way to prevent hiring a scammer is through utilizing background checks on all of your applicants. Background screening gathers information pertinent on a specific person. This process can’t be fooled through fraudulent means, like a proxy interviewee or false degree credentials, because all information is vetted and obtained from official documentation. Background screening packages, such as our screening offerings, can be catered to specific industries or professions. For example, Verified First’s packages offer the following:

  • Criminal Background Checks 
  • Education and Employment Verifications
  • Drug Screening
  • Credential Checks
  • Civil Records
  • Identity Checks
  • And more!

Background screening gives you a glimpse into an applicant's identity and history before you add them to your team. It’s the surest way to know if an applicant is being truthful in who they are. When you add this step to the hiring process, you’re establishing integrity within your organization. 

In Conclusion: Interview Fraud and Applicant Scammers

For HR and TA professionals, dealing with interview scammers can be a nightmare. Through awareness, however, the threat of fraudulent applicants doesn’t have to derail your hiring process. The best way to thwart interview scammers is through background screening. When you know an applicant’s past, you can be sure that the information they’re providing you is the truthful representation of their identity and experience. 

Ready to prevent hiring interview scammers? Let’s chat!

About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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