How to Gauge a Candidate's Authenticity in a Remote Interview

April 26, 2022
How to Gauge a Candidate's Authenticity in a Remote Interview
Hiring managers have always had to deal with candidates who lived by the advice, "fake it till you make it." Potential employees who follow this advice can cause significant headaches for HR and hiring managers trying to find the best people for their job openings. Interviewing authentic candidates is hard enough. Throwing in deceitful candidates can make the hiring process harder. And in the age of remote interviews, these fake candidates can be that much more difficult to spot. Let's look at some remote interview tips to make it easier for employers to spot the most authentic interviewees.

Remote interviews make it easier to fake it

Hiring can be scary, no matter how good of a track record you have.
A recent study from Checkster revealed that 78% of job candidates had misrepresented themselves. These misrepresentations may not play a massive role in the hiring process, but they can have an impact. For example, the study found that 60% of the applicants surveyed had misrepresented their skill mastery, while nearly 44% of candidates gave a false reference.
Some candidates pick up on new ways to circumvent the process — and the remote interview has made it easier to fake parts of your experience or resume. Some interviewees may go beyond a simple notes page during the interview process to find ways to misrepresent themselves.
60% of the applicants surveyed had misrepresented their skill mastery, while nearly 44% of candidates gave a false reference.

How to spot a fake interview candidate

One of the most obvious ways to spot a fake candidate is to conduct a background check. Background checks can provide a tremendous last look at candidates before you offer a job. However, they're not the most efficient way to spot a suspicious applicant. So let's dive into some remote interview tips for employers so you can spot potential fake interview methods.

1. Create a policy and procedure for handling fake candidates

Before you let any candidate apply or interview for a job, be up front with your policies around fake candidates. For example, you can set a policy not to consider future applications if you find out that a candidate has grossly misrepresented their abilities or lied to the company. Having a clear policy on your career site may help cut down on some of the lies you get as a hiring manager.

2. Ask questions that require depth

When you ask a question during an interview, does your candidate have to think to create a well-informed answer? If you ask questions requiring a sentence instead of a paragraph, go deeper. Digging will allow your candidate's genuine passion to come out and give you time to gauge their authenticity and knowledge.

3. Consider the promptness of the candidate

Promptness isn't just about being on time for an interview — although that never hurts. When you ask a question, are you getting a prompt response? A fake candidate might use a chat system or an earpiece to get answers from a third party. If the answers seem prompt for the complexity of the question, your candidate is likely genuine.

4. Watch the candidate's tone and movements during an interview

Speaking of third parties, you should also watch for out-of-place tone and movements during an interview. For example, does the tone feel consistent, or is it choppy? Could that candidate be listening to a third party while giving you answers to a question? Listen carefully to their responses to make sure they have a decent cadence. You can also look at signs that a candidate is listening intently. Of course, distractions like family or pets are inevitable in online communication. However, candidates should still make it clear that you have most of their attention. It's also important to be neurodiverse in the hiring process. There are some candidates who may avoid eye contact or blurt out a couple of verbal tics during an interview due to a difference in mental and behavioral abilities — but that doesn't mean you should dismiss them as a qualified candidate. Think through whether activities like eye contact are necessary for the job you're hiring for.

5. Talk about their resume

Spend time asking about specific tasks and accomplishments featured in their resume. Can they provide more context and details?

Spend time asking about specific tasks and accomplishments featured in their resume. Can they provide more context and details? For example, ask a question about something on their resume while leaving some details out. If the resume says they were responsible for a 200% increase in leads, ask them, "How did you increase leads at this company?" Compare their answer to the results on the resume. Does everything seem to match up?

6. Look at the candidate's social footprint

Nearly 4.5 billion people use social media worldwide. As much as some people love to ignore social presence, most are active on at least one platform. Using social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to check an applicant can boost your confidence.
You might not want to poke or prod candidates on social media too much, and you want to make sure that the information found through a social search isn't used to unlawfully discriminate, and consider having some guidelines for social media background checks. A simple search to see if they are active or posting about some of their accomplishments can help you out.

7. Build technical assessments into later stages of the interview process

For some roles, it's important to give your late-stage candidates a technical assessment. Some companies use technical reviews to weed out early candidates, but this isn't the best use of your applicant's time. Instead, offer this as a last check to ensure that their skills match up with the assessment. Keep it simple, but give them the ability to show their expertise. Timers can work for some assessments featuring multiple-choice questions. For other evaluations like writing a test article, a short timer won't suffice. Consider a limit on the number of days a candidate can work on a project.

8. Have another set of eyes in the room

Last, you can spot more fake interviews by having more eyes in the room during interviews. For example, you can:
  • Hold a group interview for the candidate to get to know their team members.
  • Encourage other managers and leaders to have an interview with the candidate.
  • Send out recordings of interviews to other hiring managers and recruiters.
Do they notice anything suspicious about your candidate? If not, you might have a great team member on your hands.

Spotting fake candidates takes a detailed eye

Spotting fake candidates has become more challenging for companies to do. Candidates lie or misrepresent themselves for many reasons. These lies often won't directly impact companies, but significant falsehoods can cause damage. The best companies have created checks, balances, and policies to prevent candidate fraud. With extra work, you can ensure that your candidates are who they say they are — even when you meet them remotely.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

This post may contain hyperlinks to websites operated by parties other than TriNet. Such hyperlinks are provided for reference only. TriNet does not control such web sites and is not responsible for their content. Inclusion of such hyperlinks on does not necessarily imply any endorsement of the material on such websites or association with their operators.

ESAC Accreditation
We comply with all ESAC standards and maintain ESAC accreditation since 1995.
Certified PEO
A TriNet subsidiary is classified as a Certified Professional Employer Organization by the IRS.