There have been more instances than I can count where I attempt to contact an applicant/prospective candidate either via LinkedIN or our Applicant Tracking System and the conversation goes something like this:
KM: Thank you for your application! Can you tell me more about what cloud environments you have worked with recently?
Candidate: Please send your C2C needs.
KM: I’m glad you could be interested in this role! Have you worked with AWS?
Candidate: Please provide your best rate.
These are examples of situations where my message – although supposedly going to a candidate’s inbox – is actually just a beacon for more spam from questionable consulting firms.
There have been other times where I have been communicating with an applicant via email about a role, and then once I get on the phone with them they don’t seem to know any of the information that we already discussed in the email conversation. It gives the impression that the person handling the email/job applications, and the actual candidate, are two separate entities (which they probably are). I feel like the conversation has been hijacked by a third party in the middle, and it is frustrating to not be able to know when I am communicating with the REAL candidate and what information they are actually receiving.
An even more explicit example of this communication hijacking occurred recently with a candidate that applied via our online portal. Their resume experience looked relevant to the role, so I reached out via email to schedule an interview. Soon after this communication had taken place, my inbox started to be flooded with messages – sent from this applicant’s email address – from other “people” expressing interest in the role and with their resume attached. It seemed as if the candidate’s profile was merely a lure to try and get in contact with someone from the hiring team and then spam them with the resumes of other consultants.
Something was clearly fishy, but we decided to go through with the interview anyway and see if we could get some answers. However the candidate did not accept the calendar invite for the interview and did not show up at the scheduled time. I tried to call (a phone number without a personal voicemail set up) and eventually received a message from the candidate that they were in the video meeting but that no one else was there. Given that I was still signed into the meeting, I knew this was not the case.
Even at this stage of the game, we were probably not actually talking to the candidate represented on the resume – but rather a front for the other operation going on in the background. Needless to say, we rejected this candidate (or rather – rejected the resume, since it seems likely that the real person of that name may never have been associated with the application) and blacklisted the consulting firm that they came from.
In a time like the present, where most roles are still working remotely, in person communication (let alone interviewing) has not been a reality. This means that being able to count on emails, phone calls, and video meetings to communicate important information is even more essential.
We know that remote working has opened the doors even wider for catfishing, bait and switch schemes, and outright lying. We’ve seen it ourselves and have heard the same from our business partners.
We share the experiences that we have had with untrustworthy candidates/companies – such as those detailed above – so that you can build up your own list of red flags to look out for during the hiring process. We plan on writing more about this topic in the future, as our knowledge grows!
What do you do in these instances of communications hijacking? How can you ensure that you are actually communicating with the person you think you are communicating with?
We are working on our solutions to this problem, and would love to hear what strategies you have come up with as well!