Topical Press ReleasesJanuary 27, 2023

When online interviews go bad

The bait and switch: When online interviews go bad


What would you do if the person you hired through a series of online interviews and virtual tests is not the same person who shows up at work?

It sounds like something from a science fiction movie. You spend hours testing, interviewing and talking to a candidate and then, after you offer them the job, someone completely different shows up for work. And that person doesn’t have the skills or the ability to do the job, at all. What do you do? Do you keep them in the business wondering if perhaps you’ve gone mad, or do you confront them and ask them to leave? Often, companies don’t do anything about it. This, says Nicol Myburgh, Head: CRS Technologies HCM Business Unit, is because they’re too embarrassed.

“This kind of situation has evolved over the past three years as more and more companies hire people in other countries or have been forced to undertake virtual interviews,” he explains. “Companies embark on an intense series of interviews that involve aptitude tests and virtual assessments and then they say, yes, let’s hire this person, they’re perfect. Then – and this happens more than you’d expect – the person they interviewed is not the person who shows up. Now, who’s going to be the one to tell this employee that they’re not who they say they are? Human resources?

The problem is that they’ve been onboarded. Contracts have been signed, legalities have been met and all the relevant boxes have been ticked, which means that the company now has to go through the complex process of disciplinary hearings and proving that the person in front of them is not the person they interviewed. Considering how rigorous labour laws are, this is not an easy situation.

“You have to go through a disciplinary process before you can dismiss the person, and you have to call witnesses who were present during the actual interviews,” explains Myburgh. “You may be able to dismiss them eventually, but the whole process is time-consuming and embarrassing for everyone. The solution is to put processes in place that will protect the company from the bait and switch manoeuvre and all the admin that comes with it.”

The first step is to try to avoid virtual interviews at the outset. These are easy to manipulate so if you can minimise your reliance on remote interviewing, do this. However, this is not always feasible, so consider investing in technologies that are designed to catch fraudulent interactions and engagements.

“There’s software that has polygraph-level capabilities to detect deception based on voice; this can be really helpful in catching someone who may be lying about their name or credentials,” says Myburgh. “You should also ask for a photograph of the employee upfront and then match this to identification and previous employment records. Contact the references they provided and ask them to verify the person’s identity as well as their credentials – this is a superb way of mitigating the risks completely.”

These steps will potentially help you to whittle out the problems before they become full-time employees that cost you money in terms of ending the contracts, going to the CCMA and jumping through a series of convoluted regulatory hoops, before finding someone new. The bait and switch manoeuvre is not a myth, so don’t get caught.


CRS Technologies is here to assist. We have the expertise and a fully equipped HR services team ready to offer guidance on online interview fraud or any other human resources issue you may have. We’re only an email away!


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