By: Antonio Merrick on November 22nd, 2022

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Fake Job Applicants: What They Are, and How to Stay Safe [+video]

Recruitment outsourcing

Scammers will take any opportunity to breach your corporate security—and that can include posing as fake job applicants. Believe it or not, recruitment scams are becoming more common, and businesses are suffering. 

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. With the right HR and recruitment policies, you can prevent fake job applicants from gaining access to your most sensitive systems.  

What is a recruitment scam?

In June 2022, the FBI issued a statement that warned employers about:  

An increase in complaints reporting the use of deepfakes and stolen Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to apply for a variety of remote work and work-at-home positions. 

The purpose of this recruitment scam is usually to gain access to sensitive corporate information, such as customer logins and credit card details.  

For example, imagine a company that offers remote work customer service positions. Criminals apply for these roles using a fake identity construed from stolen personal information. Sophisticated hackers might use AI-powered deepfake technology to obscure their appearance during interviews.  

Once they’re hired, the criminal then has full access to your internal systems. They can download as much sensitive information as they want. Your cybersecurity systems won’t be able to stop them, because they’re acting as authorized users.  

As a result, you may not realize that you’ve been breached until months after the event, if at all.

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How to protect your company from fake job applicants 

The good news is that you can weed out these fake job applicants if you have robust hiring processes. The main steps you need to take are:  

  • Conduct a recruitment process review: Look at your current process and identify potential weaknesses. In particular, pay attention to how you conduct remote candidate screenings.  
  • Standardize your process: Have a written hiring process and make sure that everyone involved in recruitment understands the steps involved. 
  • Educate and support: Help your HR department and hiring managers understand the risks of fake job applicants, and show them how a good process can reduce this risk.  
  • Organize your files: Use a reliable file system to store all information related to candidates, so you can double-check anything if you need to.  
  • Work with a partner: If in doubt, seek help from a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) specialist that can help you find verified candidates.  

That’s a high-level view of how to protect your business from fake job applicants. Let’s take a closer look at the kind of policies you’ll need.  

What recruitment security policies do you need? 

Any security policies should be straightforward and easy to conduct. You don’t want to introduce any friction into your hiring process, as this could increase time-to-hire and cause frustration among your hiring team.  

Some simple policies to help combat fake job applicants include:  

  • Application scorecard 
  • Recruiter screening 
  • Standardized interview process 

Let’s talk about those in more detail 

Application scorecard 

A standardized scorecard can help hiring managers identify any possible red flags. Typically, this kind of scorecard will look at things like:  

  • Do the application details match a social media profile?  
  • Does the applicant look like their social media profile image?  
  • Did the applicant follow all instructions during the video interview?  
  • Has the employee passed a credit check?  

The hiring manager can score these on a scale of one to 4 like so:  

  1. Pass 
  2. Partial pass 
  3. Fail 
  4. N/A 

This scoring process doesn’t have to be in-depth or labor-intensive. The goal is to give hiring managers an opportunity to identify any potential issues.  

Recruiter screening 

Phone and video interviews are a great opportunity to identify potentially fake job applicants. Your recruiter will need details of the original application so that they can check details like:  

  • Location 
  • Dates of previous employment 
  • Education history 

If there are any discrepancies between the application and the screening, the recruiter should make a note of this on the application scorecard. Watch out for red flags—you might be experiencing a recruitment scam.  

Standardized video interview process 

Provide mandatory instructions for video phone screens and interviews. With the following requirements: 

  1. Must use the computer's original audio system, no headphones allowed 
  2. Must be in a well-lit room without distractions in a professional setting. 
  3. Must log on 5 mins before all interviews, depending on individual business preferences. 

A standardized interview format can make it harder for fake job applicants to use technology such as deepfake video. If the candidate won’t comply with an instruction (such as moving to a well-lit room), then that could indicate something suspicious.  

Need help with your recruitment process?  

Fake job applicants are just another reason why you need an up-to-date recruitment process. Having the right process in place can help you find the right person in the shortest possible window—without exposing your business to risk. 

Need some help? Book a no-obligation call with a Helios HR consultant today, and let's talk about how you can save time and effort on hiring.

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