The Great Tech Paradox: The More We Innovate, the More We Need Humans

Tech evolves, but the human touch remains irreplaceable...

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Jun 18, 2024

I posted a rather disturbing video in the SourceCon Facebook group recently. It was a demonstration of face swapping technology that was so real, it should be banned. Honestly, the potential for nefarious intent is off the charts.

And although this is a bit of a tangent, why I’m bringing this up will make sense in a minute. When times are tough, crimes increase; scam crimes especially. Here are a few examples…

So why should this be of concern to recruiters and sourcers? Well, despite the chances of scammers running amok with this tech, there is another reason of concern – fake interviewees. Should face swapping apps continue to proliferate, interviewing for remote jobs may be a thing of the past. At this writing, I did a search on “face swap” in the Apple app store and stopped scrolling once I scanned over 20 face swap apps. It might come across as alarmist but I began wondering if we were on the verge of a booming new industry – the AI jobseeker. Let’s consider the possibilities.

    1. You can create a “perfect” resume using AI.
    2. You can use the chrome extension LazyApply Job Application to apply to hundreds of jobs with one click.
    3. You can create a chatbot to answer screening questions from recruiters. (Do you know about Estherbot?) And now…
    4. Once the interview is scheduled, you can hire an expert to interview in your place.

Step four may sound a little icky to you but I promise, hiring people to interview for you is already a thing overseas. Some call them “proxy interviews,” “bait and switch interviews,” or just plain old “fake interviews.” The reasons why candidates go this route vary. In some cases, they are under-qualified, scheduling conflicts arise, language barriers persist, or simply a severe lack of self-confidence. Am I kidding? Nope. In India, fake interviewers can charge as much as $150.00 an hour for their services. Consider this quote from Business Insider India.

In a recent Insider investigation into the “bait-and-switch” job interview that’s becoming increasingly trendy, one “professional” job interview proxy, who uses a website to book clients and keeps a Google Driver folder of past video interviews, said he charges clients $150 an hour.

The proxy was approached by Aamil Karimi, who works at cybersecurity firm Optiv as a principal intelligence analyst. Karimi, who posed as a job seeker to talk to the proxy, told Insider’s Rob Price that the “bait-and-switch” trend has been on the rise because of more work-from-home jobs and overseas hiring.

The “bait-and-switch” interview works like this: a job candidate hires someone else to pretend to be them in a job interview in hopes they will secure the job. When the job starts, the person who hired the proxy is the one to show up for work.

Is candidate fraud a common occurrence? I don’t know how often it happens but it is definitely a thing as evident by these articles.

And if those articles are not proof enough that this is a growing trend, the FBI has posted a warning called – “Deepfakes and Stolen PII Utilized to Apply for Remote Work Positions.” To quote…

The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) warns of 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. Deepfakes include a video, an image, or recording convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said.

The remote work or work-from-home positions identified in these reports include information technology and computer programming, database, and software related job functions. Notably, some reported positions include access to customer PII, financial data, corporate IT databases and/or proprietary information.

Complaints report the use of voice spoofing, or potentially voice deepfakes, during online interviews of the potential applicants. In these interviews, the actions and lip movement of the person seen interviewed on-camera do not completely coordinate with the audio of the person speaking. At times, actions such as coughing, sneezing, or other auditory actions are not aligned with what is presented visually.

Knowledge is power. So, what else do recruiters need to know to prevent being duped by “proxy interviewers?” Well, I started off this article with a deep fake example that is state of the art. Below is a video that is almost as impressive and when you review it, understand that it is four years old and that the technology has already surpassed what you are witnessing.

Another thing to be on the lookout for is eye tracking.

Imagine asking a candidate a tricky question to catch them off-guard enough to give you their most honest reaction. Based on that reflex, you have some idea of how confident they are in their abilities. But what if they were reading a second screen where someone was feeding them additional information? If you said that you would notice that by observing them on camera, you would be incorrect. NVIDIA has a new eye tracking feature on their broadcasting tool that uses AI to fixate eye movements enabling a person to look at other locations. Yes, while seemingly focused on you, they are actually reading another screen. If that surprises you, look at this and this and… this.

And then there are proxy calls. This is a bit old school, but still a go-to method for all concerned. Recruiters commonly rely on phone calls as a primary means of reaching out to potential candidates and conducting initial interviews. However, can the recruiter really know for sure they are talking to their candidate? In some cases, no. Sorry.

So what is the solution for preventing all this duplicity? One method may be assessment centers. What are those? I quote…

An assessment center is a recruitment selection process where a group of candidates is assessed at the same time and place using a wide range of selection exercises. These exercises depend on the specific job position that the candidates applied to. Usually larger employers use assessment centers as it is one of the most effective methods for selecting candidates from a larger pool of applicants. The tests conducted at the assessment centers are used to predict a candidate’s suitability for a job and fit within the company culture… The duration of an assessment center may be anywhere from a few hours to a few days. This depends on the position or role in the specific organization that the candidates are applying to.

I don’t know how many assessment centers are in operation. However, one such example is Talogy, which has several case studies posted on their website. Hmm…

  1. Sourcers source.
  2. Recruiters invite candidates to visit an assessment center to be tested.
  3. High scorers meet with the recruiter and hiring manager during a hiring event.
  4. Candidate gets hired (or not) by the end of the event.

I have seen this method work to great effect but the assessments were a series of online games. And since cheating with tech is entirely possible, how reliable is that method going forward? Ironically, the more technologically advanced we become, the more human intervention becomes necessary. Of course, I could be wrong. What do you think? Comment on social media and tag @SourceCon and I will respond as best I can.

May the source be with you!

Jim Stroud
Your SourceCon Editor

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