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The Challenge of Identifying Fraudulent IT Candidates

As a hiring manager or team lead trying to fill an open IT role, you’ve likely encountered a few candidates who don’t tell the whole truth about their experience. Part of your very challenging job is identifying these bad actors before they make it through the interview process and find their way into your organization. Unfortunately, once hired, they can significantly disrupt your business, teams, and culture.  

Encountering a fraudulent IT candidate is very common — and very costly: 

  • 78% of job seekers misrepresented themselves on job applications and resumes.  
  • It takes 36 days on average to hire a new employee, a significant waste of time and effort for your team if that hire doesn’t work out.  
  • The financial costs of a bad hire range from five to 27 times that new hire’s actual salary, which includes components like the cost to hire and train them, pay for travel, and the associated opportunity costs of lost business opportunities. 

While it’s normal and well-advised for candidates to sing their praises on their resumes and during interviews with a potential new employer, some candidates take that too far and misrepresent their actual experience and qualifications. Misrepresentation includes tactics like inflating grade-point averages and embellishing roles on IT projects by claiming to be a team lead rather than simply a team member. 

Fraudulent IT Candidates Are Upping Their Game 

Other types of fraud can be harder to identify, especially in our post-pandemic world where remote working options are more common. Fraudulent IT candidates understand that hiring managers have a more difficult time spotting fraud when it’s happening thousands of miles away, and take advantage of technology to dupe otherwise savvy hiring managers in increasingly sophisticated ways: 

  • They may use diploma mills and fake credentialing services to fabricate degrees and certifications. 
  • They may be fed technical answers through headphones from someone with more IT experience during interviews. 
  • They may use artificial intelligence (AI) tools to appear like they are making eye contact when searching for answers to your questions. 

Examining the Root Causes of the Fraudulent IT Candidate Problem 

The frequency and sophistication of fraud in the IT candidate hiring process have increased in recent years – it has roots in the technology used to screen candidates, the advice candidates find online, the prevalence of remote and overseas hires, and the economy:  

  • Candidate screening technology
    Applicant tracking systems (ATS) have provided hiring managers with speed and agility, allowing them to structure, customize, and automate the candidate screening process to make it more scalable. However, these tools have put candidates in a challenging position. They don’t need to impress a human looking at a cover letter to stand out now. First, they must make it through an AI-driven, machine-based screening process. There’s plenty of advice online to teach candidates how to game this system. 
  • Pressure from sponsors for overseas candidates
    Many candidates seeking jobs in the U.S. from overseas work with vendors who help them find job opportunities, and these sponsors will only generate money if their candidates are selected. They frequently encourage their candidates to exaggerate or add skills they don’t have to get the job.  
  • The job market
    When there are more open positions than unemployed candidates, hiring managers feel increased pressure to fill those positions quickly. This increases risk when employers don’t take the time to thoroughly vet a candidate who looks great on paper and during an interview before offering them the job.  

While challenges abound, there are solutions that hiring managers can pursue to ensure they’re finding legitimate, high-quality candidates. To learn more, read the next entry in this series, “How to Spot Common Tactics Used by Fraudulent IT Candidates,” or download our new ebook, “Fraudulent IT Candidates: How to Identify and Reduce the Risks of Costly Staffing Mistakes.”