Non-fictional IT-stories about impostors and why these incomprehensible practices appeared during interviews
A typical candidate for the version of overly zealous "hunters for impostors"
A few days ago, Philip fillpackart Ranzhin published an article entitled " Stop suspecting developers of imposture. Learn to talk better ”, in which he raised a very acute problem for the industry of inadequate interviews. I read it, I was horrified, I read it again and thought: “why does such garbage happen at all?”. With this question, I went to a couple of acquaintances of HR specialists and Crossover Russia director Vladimir vme Yeronin (which ultimately resulted in a blog article) and, as it turned out, the legs of such unpleasant and incomprehensible practices grow, as usual, not from our own hiring culture .
Unfortunately, the trend to blindly copy everything and everything, “so that it is no worse than in the West,” is alive in 2018. And if in foreign companies such things can somehow be justified by turning a blind eye to the degree of marasmus, then for Russia and the CIS countries many of the mechanisms worked out by overseas colleagues are generally inapplicable. But not all HR specialists and managers understand this.
In fact, there are almost no impostors in our region and everything that Philip Rangin wrote in his article is fair. I don’t know if this is related to the culture or the general level of bashfulness that is inherent in our society, but almost all the stories I heard were related to people from Asia and Hindustan.
So, if you think that there are no impostors in IT and no one will be in their right mind to have an interview at Senior Java without sufficient skills, then welcome to the cat, I will surprise you.
History knows examples of unique impostors who pretended to be specialists in any field, and at the same time successfully coped with the functions assigned to them. What is worth Ferdinand Demara - the greatest impostor in history.
I think many have heard about this character, who, through the forgery of documents, deception and even the dramatization of his own suicide, presented himself and later worked as a civil engineer, deputy sheriff, prison director, psychology doctor, lawyer, teacher and even a surgeon on a warship (and spent several successful operations and stopped the epidemic!), while not having even a secondary education. The list of "professions" Demara extremely extensive. But the story of Ferdinand is an exception, in which the impostor had exceptional resourcefulness, phenomenal memory and, most often, coped with his role.
Modern impostors, in the main, are looking only for big and easy money with minimal effort. And they can be obtained in IT, it is only important to hold out for a couple of weeks, especially if the work is remote.
Story number 1. Java developer pipeline
Offline impostors less and less. They have to spend their own resources, you can pierce at the interview, and then you need to go to work. And if the fraud opens up at an inconvenient time, then you can
The hero of this story comes from India. Objectively, it is difficult for Europeans to distinguish not only Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and so on, but in general all immigrants from Southeast and Central Asia. We used to pay attention to other features of appearance, no racism, just a fact.
In Crossover, we were faced with a situation where, at a certain point, Java developers at various levels (right up to Senior) began to massively fall through as early as the first weeks of work, which are assigned to the so-called on-board or commonplace understanding of the project. The whole magic of the situation was that at the interview stage everything was great! And the tests passed well, and during the interview with the immediate supervisor the candidate showed confident knowledge and full professional ability! I had to understand.
First, it was revealed that developers, who suddenly forgot everything that they knew about Java and IT in general, were from India. Managers had at their disposal resumes, photographs and random snapshots from employees' webcams. Verification of documents did not reveal any crime: very real people, with different surnames, age and so on.
The deception was revealed simply enough. One of the hiring managers took a closer look at his “developer”, who suddenly “forgot” everything he knew at the interview, and realized that he was not the person with whom he spoke before starting work, although he was very similar to him.
Tests and interviews were held by a real specialist, and a specialist of a fairly high level. He found compatriots looking like themselves, after which he applied for their Java positions, which were enough in Crossover, applied resumes with other people's photos, knowing that there were many Europeans and Americans in the company, and successfully passed all interviews. Since the period of onboarding is paid 100% from the first day, then it was only a small matter: the impostors needed to imitate the activity as long as possible so that they would not have any questions for at least a couple of weeks (payment occurs weekly). Thus, a very real specialist gathered a whole “mini-organized crime group”, which was pretended to be developers, getting real wages for it. So it was "employed" about 10 people.
The saddest thing in this situation is not even financial loss, but temporary loss. The timing of development, of course, was not disrupted, but the situation is unpleasant. And it didn’t come to light right away, simply because it never occurred to anyone that such a scheme was possible at all.
Story number 2. Translation difficulties
Tell me honestly, are everyone satisfied with the translation of their first name and surname in official documents? I am constantly confronted with the fact that instead of Aliaksandr (translated from Belarusian) I strive to call Alexandr, Alexander, Aliaksander, and so on, who is in that much. Once I even almost was not allowed on the plane, because the inviting party did not believe the passport photo reversal and decided that I would be Alexandr, good, in my own airline, I was already accustomed to such incidents and were allowed on board. And if you have the letter “I” in the name or the surname, then hell is created there, from the banal “Y” to the combinations “IA”, “YA” and even “JA”.
A similar loophole was used by another imposter developer. Well, he was not an impostor in the full sense of the word, yet the person was a specialist, but the thirst for profit turned out to be stronger than the voice of conscience.
Once a Pakistani man noticed that he had two identity documents, in which his name and surname were written a little differently. An ordinary person would either change one of the documents, or decided not to exploit this “vulnerability”, but not our hero.
Our Pakistani on different documents filed applications for two different positions at once. He successfully passed the test and the interview stage, after which he began working on “two fronts”. The situation casus adds that even though he got into different teams, he managed to get under the beginning of the same head of development (who supervised several teams at once), which slightly accelerated the process of disclosing the fraud.
Unlike the less intelligent cheaters, our Pakistani was aware of the tracker and the possibility of shooting from a webcam, so he approached the process of double employment wisely. He worked at different positions at different times, changed his appearance a little through his hair, put a laptop at different angles for “Developer No. 1” and “Developer No. 2” to reduce the similarity, consistently changed clothes before starting work.
He was killed by the fact that a person is physically unable to work productively 80 hours a week (two for 40, of course). And if his first "avatar" showed an acceptable code, then the second force was not enough. He worked in this mode a little more than a month. Perhaps the Pakistani would have retained one of his positions and fell under dismissal only on the second, where there were drawdowns on the results, but it was ruined by the fact that, as was said earlier, he managed to fall under the leadership of one person. When the manager began to analyze what was happening, looked into the documents and looked at his two unstable newcomers more closely, the deception was revealed.
Story number 3. Twin brothers
Everyone in childhood dreamed of a twin brother who would go to school for him. There are stories when the twins exploited their similarities and one of them was blowing for two at the exam or during the interviews. Approximately the same situation happened with two twin brothers from India, already mentioned by us.
It all started quite routinely. New candidate, tests, interview, successful start of labor activity. However, after a few weeks, something strange happened: the developer turned off the tracker, returned a few hours later, and instead of writing excellent code, started writing some strange game. Then this stage was stopped, the tracker was turned off, and the next cycle was returned by a “good” professional developer.
To the shame of management, the first thought was that the guy was drinking in black, that’s just thumping. Then in a drunken state he sits down to code, he gets something completely wild, he goes to sleep, after which he soberly remembers everything he knows about development. Moreover, during the conversations, the candidate in every way denied the fact that he periodically falls into an inadequate state, and he even called up and correspondence with him that the version with alcohol or other substances was untenable.
After careful consideration, analysis of correspondence and activities, it was possible to scrape together the arguments in favor of the fact that two different people work from one account and bring the brothers to clean water. The quite logical question why this was necessary for a professional brother, who was quite a good developer himself, could not give a clear answer.
Instead of morality
In general, there are vanishingly few impostors on the territory of the CIS. There are in our society "great combinators" who, following the precepts of the classics, go to success in their thorny ways, but their number fluctuates at the level of statistical error. Yes, and other than IT areas for their activities more than enough.
Personally for myself, I made a simple conclusion: the fight against impostors in IT appeared initially in large companies that weekly interview hundreds of people, including remotely. From here and stupid questions, and several stages, and testing. In the case of large organizations that constantly need developers and experience personnel shortages, this approach is partially justified: it is much easier for an impostor to get lost in a dense stream of candidates during an interview at a large international organization.
Therefore, when Western companies entered the international distant labor market, they began to look for ways to identify incompetent job seekers and cut them off at the interview stage. The only problem is that a bad example is contagious, and the implementation, most often, is lame in both legs.
All the HR with whom I spoke, unanimously argue that many companies in the CIS frankly outweigh the stick in terms of searching for impostors. Endless adventurers are characteristic of less prosperous regions. And if in Russia a vacancy with a salary fork from 6 to 10 thousand dollars causes alertness and skepticism, they say, “there is a catch here! I can smell it! ”, Then in India, Pakistan or conditional Bangladesh the same vacancy with the same fork causes a stir and elements of mass hysteria. Just because for them a weekly check of $ 1000-2000 equals earnings for a year and in order to receive it, many are ready for anything.
Interviews in small and medium-sized companies with the presence of a physical office, which are built on the principle “we are trying to weed out impostors” do not make any sense at all, as there is no sense and restriction of developers in using search engines. A developer is a person who possesses not only a large amount of knowledge, but also the ability to quickly search and interpret the information found. Trite because programming languages are constantly evolving, new tools, frameworks and practices are emerging. So if at the interview you are asked stupid, in your opinion, questions, you need to look at the size of the company.
If the company is large (international), then, most likely, this is a general regulation for all branches and, quite likely, even the interviewer will not be happy with what is happening. But if the company does not pull into an international one, then, unfortunately, you faced samogers who attended a couple of overseas trainings, read a few smart books on hire, but did not understand that everything written and told is not about them. Not yet mature. It is worth to run away from such tenants without thinking.