• PTP Chicago

College admissions fraud, proxy interviews, & fake Skype calls oh my!

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

Cheating one's way into a school, or a job, still does more harm than good

50 of the nation’s most rich and scandalous are facing federal charges

for their alleged involvement in the largest college admissions fraud in U.S. history.

The allegations include everything from bribing exam proctors and university administrators to photoshopping students faces onto athletes bodies. “Operation Varsity Blues”, as it’s now known, pulls back the curtain on a fraudulent practice that recruiters and hiring managers have faced for years especially in the Information Technology (IT) sector.

Proxy interviews have been a known problem for employers for a long time.

A proxy interview is the practice of interviewing someone “other than the person about whom information is being sought”. Video chat platforms, such as Skype and Google Hangouts, were once seen as the most foolproof methods of qualifying a candidate but not any longer.

They enabled face-to-face interviews over long distances which made relocation and remote work more accessible. As this practice became more common so did the deception.

Life isn't an open book test

Candidates started treating interviews like an open-book test.

Pseudo-programmers quickly realized they could have cheat-sheets and answers to common questions readily available. This allowed them to sound more knowledgeable than they actually were. This quickly evolved into bringing actual subject matter experts (SME's), usually friends or family members, into the room with them or feeding answers through another chat window. Some even went so far as to lip-sync the answers to every question asked in the technical interview.

The fake interview market.

The process of faking interviews has grown so large that it’s even created a new market. Proxy freelancers for nearly any technical subject can easily be found, and paid for, online. Tutorials claiming to show “How to hack a Skype video interview – use a fake proxy!” are readily available on YouTube. There have even been claims that large agencies have formed to provide these “services” in physical locations here in Chicago.

With so much time, money and energy being put into faking interviews one has to wonder… wouldn’t it just be better to learn the material?

Yes. Yes it would.

The worst real interview is still better than the best fake one

Faking an interview, much like bribing college admissions administrators or faking athletic involvement, does much more harm than good.

I’ve written at length about the importance of all of our digital reputations. Finding information about someone is easier than ever, more data is collected every day, and the more that digital footprint is distributed the harder it becomes to overwrite it. Soon, it’ll likely be stored on an immutable blockchain preventing it from ever being truly deleted. Your cyber reputation probably played a role in getting the job you currently have and will almost definitely determine your next. Ruining that reputation with something like a fake interview could easily prevent you from finding the career you want, or even the job you need, in the near future.

Your reputation, especially if negative, also everyone you're involved with.

From friends and family to employers and even recreational organizations… any group you appear to be affiliated with can be judged, in the court of public opinion, based on your actions. The actual schools that parents were cheating their kid’s way into aren’t facing charges in the college admissions conspiracy. Regardless, prestigious universities such as Yale, Wake Forest, USC, Georgetown and more are all taking drastic measures to distance themselves from the case. Some even spending countless dollars on internal investigations to ensure their reputation isn’t tarnished.

While the news of the higher education cheating scam shocked many Americans it came as no surprise to most in the staffing realm. Recruiters have, unfortunately, become accustom to the fraud and deceit involved when you control a person’s access to school or work. Hopefully shining a light on this practice shows those considering it that there is a better way.

About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has been Chicagoland's premiere I.T. staffing, consulting, and recruiting firm for over 20+ years. Named after Chicago's historic Peterson Avenue, PTP has built its reputation by developing lasting relationships, leading digital transformation, and inspiring technical innovation throughout Chicagoland. Now based in Park Ridge, IL, PTP's 250+ employees have narrowed their focus to a single market (Chicago) and 4 core technical areas;

  • Application/mobile/web development and ecommerce

  • Data science/analytics/business intelligence/artificial intelligence

  • Information security/cybersecurity and

  • ERP SAP/Oracle and project management/BA/QA

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