The Ringer

I don’t even know where to start with this one.
I’ve been assisting a client with recruiting a team of developers to work on a project. For whatever reason, they were having difficulty finding local talent so we had spread our nets out to see if we could find what they need. Naturally this meant that the interviews had to be done remotely. The usual process is that the staffing agency does a screening (they suck at this given the quality of what makes it through) then we do a technical screen (where we usually reject about 90% of the candidates), then we do a more in-depth interview with the candidate. If we think the person has the technical capabilities to do the work for the client we will pass the candidate on and the client does their interview. We did find 1 local candidate this way and an in-person interview occurred and that person was hired. The rest were offered without having had an in-person interview and they accepted and showed up for their first day on the job which is where the wheels came off the bus.
One of the candidates we passed and was hired turned out to have been using a ringer during the interviews. The person who showed up for the first day of work had none of the technical capabilities that had been demonstrated during the interviews (we write some code and do some design work: things that are difficult to fake). The team quickly caught on to this individual’s lack of skill and was quickly removed.
In the post mortem of this experience I’m looking at how I can further improve the process to prevent this from happening again. The immediate answer is that I’ll be adding a web-cam to the interview. But I need to check with HR to see if there are any rules I need to navigate in doing so. For instance: can we require a photo ID with the resume submission from the staffing agencies?
On one-hand I’m laughing my butt off about the situation because it is comical. On the other hand it is a serious problem for my client because we have to go back to the well to replace this person and find a new one while insuring this doesn’t happen again. Which in my sick twisted mind just makes it funnier.
So here’s the thing, if you plan to use a ringer for your interviews: you might want to make sure that your ringer does not so greatly exceed your own capabilities that if you do get the job that you’ll be immediately identified as a fraud. Perhaps have the ringer provide you a recording of the interview and go study the questions that were asked and the information provided so you’ll be prepared. I mean this person screwed up so massively that the team immediately removed the individual.
What isn’t funny about this is the impact it can have on clients doing remote work. Remote work requires trust between the parties involved and when an individual like this shows up they can cause people to question using remote workers. To be clear this situation was an onsite gig, but I can’t help but wonder how eager they will be to do remote work now.

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