According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among professional, scientific and technical talent (which includes computer services) fell to 1.8% in 2018. While unemployment is going down, IT budgets are increasing. Gartner’s April 2018 forecast projects worldwide IT spending to reach about $3.85 trillion in 2019, up 2.8% from 2018. In a tight market, when demand exceeds supply, attracting top tech talent can be challenging.

Closing the Gap with H-1B Visa
Many employers turn to the H-1B Visa to employ (sponsor) foreign workers to fill the gap. The H-1B Visa allows highly educated professionals in specialty occupations such as technology to qualify for a temporary visa (typically for an initial term of three years and extended to a maximum of six years. In fact, so many apply for H-1B Visas each year, even companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are approved for about half of the H1B Visas they petition for each year.

Understanding IT Subcontracting Companies
Many IT subcontractor companies are located in foreign countries who act as a broker between the U.S. employer and the H-1B Visa holder. When it comes to these IT subcontracting companies most are ethical; however, there are some that rely on unscrupulous tactics to place candidates. Unfortunately, you often don’t find out a company is using questionable methods until it is too late. Determining which companies to trust can be challenging; therefore, knowing what to look for is key.

The Bait and Switch
Imagine the following scenario: You perform a phone interview with a candidate from XYZ Subcontracting company. Everything goes well and the candidate seems to be the perfect fit, so you make an offer to hire them. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that the person you interviewed and the person sitting at a desk in your company are not one in the same. You realize this individual is unable to perform the job and has little more than a basic understanding of the position.

You have become a victim of the “bait and switch”! In this scenario, a qualified consultant shows up for the interview and then a less qualified or sometimes completely unqualified individual shows up for the job.

Personally, this has happened to me a few times in my career as an IT Recruiter of nearly 7 years and trust me when I tell you it is not a pleasant experience. To help you avoid this “bait and switch” scenario, I want to share a few personal experiences and the solutions I have found helpful.

Avoid Phone Only Interviews
One “fake candidate” situation I encountered was from a phone only interview. Time was of the essence and the hiring manager was anxious to fill the role quickly. A very impressive phone interview lead to an offer that resulted in the scenario described above.

Another “fake candidate” was the result of a Skype interview. The person who appeared on-screen claimed there was a bad network connection and quickly requested the hiring manager call him on the phone to finish the interview. As you can guess, another more qualified individual took the call and an offer was made. Unfortunately, this was also a “bait and switch” scenario.

As you can see, it is all too easy for these unethical companies to pull off the “bait and switch” when a candidate is only screened via a phone interview. Simply put, when it comes to an H-1B Visa holder, a phone interview is just not enough to ensure the candidate you speak to is the one who shows up once hired.

Go the Extra Mile
To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, I have added four specific screening tactics for H-1B visa holders to avoid selecting “fake candidates.”

First, be certain a candidate can explain their background without reading straight off their resume. Further question specific qualifications to see how they respond. Most of the time a “fake candidate” will not be able to quickly respond with accurate, detailed information.

Second, check to see if they have a LinkedIn profile with a photo. Most of the time, if they have a profile with a picture, they are who they say they are. If they don’t, proceed with caution and use additional methods to verify their identity.

Third, have them send you a photo ID, a copy of their work visa and conduct a video call to ensure the person on the documents appears on screen.

Fourth, consider an in-person interview. While the cost and/or circumstances can sometimes make an in-person interview difficult to achieve, knowing with absolute certainty that the person you are hiring is the one who has the skills to perform the job can be worth the time and expense.

Partner Effectively
Finding an IT Staffing partner to help you navigate the complex H-1B Visa process can help. It is often said that experience is the best teacher; therefore, choosing a partner who knows how to spot “fake candidates” is the best way to avoid becoming a victim of the “bait and switch.” PSI has over 25 years of experience screening candidates and has seen nearly every type of recruiting (both good and bad) out there.

Need help securing top IT talent? Think an H-1B Visa candidate might be the right fit? Contact us today and put our expertise to work for you.