Employers are also facing a time when collective angst leads to all sorts of unusual behavior. It’s something Tamara Sylvestre, 32, said she realized last year when she was working as a recruiter at a Michigan-based recruiting firm and interviewing someone for an engineering position. She made an initial telephone screening with the candidate, in which she noted that he had a high-pitched voice. When she conducted a follow-up technical interview via video, her voice seemed to have deepened.
Ms Sylvestre then asked why his pitch had changed, and he confessed he had asked a friend to do the video interview for him.
“What were you going to do if you ended up landing the role?” Ms. Sylvestre remembers asking the perplexed candidate. “He was like, ‘I was really nervous. I thought no one would notice. The role was 100% remote, so maybe he thought it wouldn’t make a difference.
Mark Bradbourne, 46, who works as an engineer in Ohio, recalled a trickster who went even further in the hiring process several years ago. Mr. Bradbourne asked a new employee in his first week to do a data visualization exercise identical to the one he had done during his technical interview. The new recruit didn’t know how to proceed. When Mr Bradbourne reminded the employee that he had done the same in his hiring process, the man jumped up and ran out of the room, then immediately quit.
Persuading a friend to pinch during a technical screening is an extreme variety of mock interview. But organizational psychologists observe that interviewers tend to reward honesty. They recognize when people are candid about the aspects of a business that match their interests, Dr. Bourdage said.
Investigators are also getting better at detecting dishonesty. Meta, formerly Facebook, has in-house psychologists who design probing questions that would be difficult for respondents to fake. Scott Gregory, managing director of personality testing company Hogan Assessment Systems, encourages employers to do away with classic interview questions – “What are your greatest strengths?” — in favor of situational and behavioral situations, in which the candidates recount experiences they have had or explore hypothetical scenarios. Meta’s chief recruiter said the company expects candidates to turn on their camera for video interviews, although it can accommodate any circumstances that make it difficult.
Yet the more subtle constraints of the interview process remain: in a corporate culture where a popular artistic term is transparency, how much of your true personality can you reveal before you get hired? Should you be yourself if you couldn’t get the job?