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Do You Suspect Graduate Job Applicants Are Cheating?

Graduate RecruitmentStudent Recruitment

‘I would prefer even to fail with honour than to win by cheating.’ Sophocles.

With graduates desperate to start their career with leading employers, a small percentage may resort to short cuts and try to ‘game’ the application process to get a foot in the door.

Leading graduate scheme recruiters and members of the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) were recently asked if they had seen or suspected cheating by job applicants. 65% confirmed they had. Suspicions have been heightened by a large part of the application process switching online in the last 18 months. So, what are hundreds of early talent recruiters noticing and how can you avoid it happening to you?

Cheat #1 Knowing in advance the interview questions or Assessment Centre tasks. These are being frequently shared among applicants who sometimes collaborate if they are all applying, meaning you can no longer assume their answers are genuine.

The Fix Whilst it’s impossible for employers to prevent applicants from sharing interview questions amongst themselves or visiting dozens of sites like Glassdoor or WikiJob, the best way to identify cheats is to stay one step ahead and try to randomise your interview questions and design assessment tasks to make cheating more difficult.

Cheat #2 Having model answers prepared. Again, once known, these can be easily shared among other applicants.

The Fix Use text-checking software or an ATS that can identify the same sentences or paragraphs being copied and pasted.

Cheat #3 Impersonation. Someone other than the candidate is completing online tests.

The Fix If a graduate is prepared to go to these extreme lengths, then they clearly lack the confidence in their ability to complete the process. Perhaps reminding them that aptitude tests or similar are not just another hoop to jump through but a rigorous tool that helps them get started in the right career. One easy way to eliminate this on a virtual assessment day is to have an assessor watch the candidates while they’re doing a written task over video.

Cheat #4 Faking qualifications. This is a tempting option for graduates whose qualifications don’t meet the minimum requirement.

The Fix This cheat has been around for centuries and is easy to identify by simply asking for evidence, cross referencing with the university and also asking for ID. Further background checks can be made if necessary.

Cheat #5 Using multiple email addresses to increase the chances of a CV getting through.

The Fix This should be easy to spot and, frankly, is not a very successful technique to game the system.

Cheat #6 Applicants don’t fear being caught. Graduate job seekers may think the sheer number of applicants is enough to give them the confidence that they can easily slip through the net plus, due to high levels of competition, many are willing to take greater risks to advance to later stages.

The Fix Perhaps the biggest deterrent to any attempt at ‘gaming the system’ could be to discuss the issue with candidates up front and explain that checks will be made. Describing the consequences upon being discovered such as being banned from ever re-applying to the organisation, being reported back to their university (which may be especially painful as many large employer’s sponsor societies) or, ultimately, having your employment contract terminated upon detection.

What has been your experience? Have you caught someone out or do you have 100% faith in a robust selection process? Do send your comments to me at [email protected]

Dan Hawes is the Co-Founder of the GRB Group. He hopes to enlighten students, graduates and employers with his wisdom from over 25 years in the industry.

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