With COVID-19 increasing the need for employers to use virtual interviews to hire people, there has been an increase in job candidates deceiving employers with a practice called “bait and switch.” This involves job candidates hiring someone to stand-in for them during virtual interviews to ensure they are hired.
The bait and switch maneuver has been commonly demonstrated in interviews for IT jobs and includes stand-ins who have the required skills the actual candidate is lacking. Once they pass through the interview, the candidate will then switch back for the first day of work.
For a remote job, it is harder to catch these candidates since they do not show up in an office setting face to face. However, for those who do come in-person, the bait and switch practice ends up leaving employers confused.
This practice is unethical because it wastes the time of employers and opens jobs to potentially unqualified candidates instead of those who have the necessary skills. On top of that, it is hard to imagine the thinking behind a candidate using such a technique for an in-person job considering the likelihood of the employer noticing differences between the person they interviewed and the person who comes in on the first workday.
On the other hand, with the workforce being so competitive, it can be difficult to keep up with a job’s skill requirements. In order to build up enough skills to consider the candidate as appropriate for the job, the candidate needs to sacrifice time and money with more schooling, internships and entry-level positions to increase experience. If a candidate has been applying to dozens of jobs to no avail, one can see the desperation that could lead to using the bait and switch practice.
Despite there being a hiring crisis, jobs have continued to increase their selectivity when it comes to hiring new employees. Kamala Yadav, a product manager for Publicis Sapient, explained that employers need to focus on three elements of the hiring process in order to select a proper candidate: formulating specific interview questions, personality and skill assessments, and using predictive analytics data to come to an informed decision.
With so many assessments to prepare for during the hiring process, on top of data that compares potential employees’ skills and traits to current employees, job candidates are increasingly bending over backwards desperately trying to fit into this “perfect employee” archetype. The practice of bait and switch is unethical, but the fear of being unhireable is understandable.
As a college student preparing for the next step into the workforce, talk of bait and switch practices and selective hiring is stressful. I am already worried that I will not fit the requirements of employers as I compete with others in my field who are applying to the same jobs. Now, with the bait and switch technique being increasingly used, another worry is competing against people who could be less qualified than I am.
Job candidates sending a “perfect employee” to their interviews is an unethical practice that wastes time and takes away opportunities from those who are trying to find a job with the skills they already have. However, the increased usage of this practice is an unconscious comment on the increasing selectivity of the hiring process that is leaving people worried about their financial futures.