Tagged phone interview

Phone Screening: Can You See Your Candidates Cheating?!

Here is a list of commonly asked phone screen questions designed to reveal your job candidates’ goals, strengths and potential fit for your organization. road-sign-464641_640

  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What are you currently earning?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your career goals?

Nothing too surprising there.  These questions while sufficient to whittle down your pool of candidates won’t trip up too many.  Seasoned job candidates will have canned responses all ready to answer those questions.  “Why should we hire you?” another commonly asked question, won’t tell you if your engineering candidate has any experience with metrology equipment or if your software programmer possesses knowledge of mobile web development. Naturally, specific job-related questions must be asked but if you can’t see the candidate, how can you tell they aren’t cheating?  How do you know the candidate is not looking up the answers?

According to a 2014 study by Careerbuilder, 58% of managers have caught a lie on a candidate’s resume with the candidate’s skill set being the most often embellished fib.  Candidates willing to lie on their resume might also be willing to pull a Pinocchio during the phone screen by searching online for the appropriate response, especially if you have asked a technical question.

Recently our company had the opportunity to screen a PHP software developer candidate who was referred to us and highly recommended.  Since the candidate lived three hours behind our time zone, we chose to set the candidate up with an automated video interview rather than phone screen the candidate at an inconvenient time after hours. We uploaded a number of PHP developer questions for the candidate to answer which would give us a feel for the extent of their knowledge.  Additionally the video would provide the hiring manager with a greater sense of the candidate’s energy level and personality.

The candidate completed the video interview overnight and in the morning we eagerly logged into the system to review this “highly recommended” candidate’s interview.  Unfortunately the candidate was stumped by the first programming question asked.  With furrowed brows we stared at the screen waiting for the candidate to say something. Several awkward seconds passed and we knew the candidate had nothing.  I momentarily felt for the candidate and then they went for their smart phone and our jaws dropped. The highly recommended candidate whose resume reflected a skill set that would surely enable them to answer our first question, tried to search for the answer online!

The candidate ended the first question without a response but the nightmare was just beginning.  Aware they were on camera and robbed of their opportunity to research the answers, the candidate proved unable to respond to several of the remaining interview questions.  A follow-up phone interview confirmed what the video already exposed.  The candidate confessed that they often Googled the necessary answer when stumped during a phone interview.

We avoided a potentially bad hire by using video.  Today’s culture in many ways encourages embellishment and in some ways, cheating.  How will you protect your organization?