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This is a question Faking it

Rakky writes, "We've all done it. From qualifications to orgasms, everyone likes to play 'let's pretend' once in a while."

So when have you faked it? Did you get away with it? Or were your mendacious ways exposed?

(, Thu 10 Jul 2008, 15:16)
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The fake interview
Click here for the video, but I recommend reading below first.

There’d been talk around the company I used to work at about the bonus for referring someone who they eventually recruit being doubled. Many people were scouring their address books in order to obtain this lucrative prize that, in theory, seemed so easy to achieve.

With the general time-wasting banter amongst the proles of the office giving the weather a break and revolving around that subject, it didn’t take long to start sewing the seeds of an evil plan in my mind. Why not make someone up? Why not create the ultimate candidate!? If Eddie Murphy can play every role in a film which still grosses well at the box office, then surely I can find a way to make this possible?

CV screening

A quick download of a CV template later and it was time to play God. I had been involved in recruitment at the company for a significant amount of time, so knew exactly what to include on the CV in order for it to receive a positive screening. To be fair, at this stage I was still thinking that this would be one of those flippant, no-effort / few-chuckles ratio’d pranks, so didn’t put much effort into making the CV seem particularly realistic.

For example, I knew some of the keywords being scanned for, which included a good knowledge of networking and some SQL experience hence the skills section read:

Skills
--------
Networking
SQL

I felt like Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science as I my creation stirred to life. 10 minutes of deep concentration later and he was alive. I had created…

Flavaadit Gambatron.

Aaah Flavaadit. How could anyone believe your existence? You have the syllable ‘tron’ in your surname and a beloved double-a giving your forename a masculine sound when your name was spoken out loud. Say it with me

Flavaadit
Gambatron.

It didn’t take much to unearth the ridiculousness of the name as neither his surname or forename returned a single search hit (although this seems to have changed subsequently).

I sent the email to the recruitment email address on the company website where it began its elongated journey to an inbox geographically three metres from me. The next step was to await the reply.

Download Flavaadit’s CV here.

It took just thirty minutes for Flavaadit to be approved for a telephone interview! He couldn’t believe his luck! When reading the job spec, he did think the role was made for him, but such a quick response!? Flavaadit was getting big headed.

The quick response put me at a hypothetical crossroads where two distinct paths laid out ahead of me. On the one hand, I could go over to the lady who’d approved my creation, slap my thigh in mirth then leave it as a ha-ha for the pub later. A one or two on the LOLchter scale. On the other hand… The potential was screamingly obvious. I was an interviewer in this company. I not only knew the system, I was part of it. I was in a point of power, and power is designed to be abused.

It was time to face facts. The referral bonus idea was a no as we just don’t have the technology for clones yet (or do we…? No. Not yet. But may- No. Stop it.). I started preparation for the telephone interview, and decided to see how it went from there. It was all very well going this far, but who knew where this would end up. More precisely, I prefer to wing it than to actually have a game plan, so I didn’t really know what to do other than proceed with the interview. Who knows, maybe I could even get Flavaadit to progress to a face to face interview, but I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, setting up a fake telephone interview is easier said than done.

The telephone interview

Including myself there are three people in the company who conduct the telephone interviews for my department, sharing the load between each other. Outlook Calendar research is needed to find the perfect time for the interview to ensure that I’m not the one giving it. Ideally, both of my bosses will be out of the office and I will be able to create a fictional meeting in my own calendar to ensure the interview gets redirected to one of the other two. I’ll also have to make sure it isn’t at a time I’m in a legitimate meeting myself. I can’t risk my boss being in the office, as he’ll want to know feedback on the review etc, and although this seems like a great idea, I’m not sure I want to get into trouble for it and he’s pretty good at identifying when I’m wearing my shenanigans hat. This requires COMMANDO PRECISION. In. Out. No-one knows I was even there.

The other main thing is that if I’m going to go to this level of detail, then I want to make sure that I get it all recorded for future generations to enjoy. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. Making this happen may be the trickiest part of the operation.

A week Friday is identified as the perfect day for execution. Boss #1 on leave and Boss #2 working from home. Open up GMail…

Flavaadit replies “Can you make it a week Friday?”.
Recruitment replies “How does 10:30am sound?”.
Check the calendar…
Damn it, the one time I have a meeting that day.
Flavaadit replies “I’m working full time at the moment, is 14:00 alright?”.
Recruitment replies “Yes, you’ll be called at 14:00 a week Friday”.
The time is set. The clock is ticking.

First things first, I’ve got to fill my calendar with some bollocks like Knowledge Transfer. No-one questions knowledge transfer because they fear they’ll be invited and end up being responsible for the knowledge being transferred. It’s a safe bet. Book it for an hour and a half. I can’t risk someone talking to me beforehand and eating into my prep time. This is far more important than work.

The most difficult, yet rewarding part of this operation is to come up with a way of filming it. I don’t own a digital camcorder and I don’t know of anyone else who does. I recall hearing that the company have one somewhere, but getting hold of it without suspicion will be a particularly tricky manoeuvre. There’s no rational reason someone in my role would need a camcorder. Also, once I’ve gotten the camcorder, I’ve got to get it in front of the interviewer in such a position that it clearly captures the whole thing. There’s no chance of hiding it somewhere, this will require the interviewer to know about the camera and be comfortable with its presence.

After a good while playing out various ideas, I started to hit brick walls. It dawned on me that I couldn’t perform this task alone. I needed a Robin, a Penfold, a second girl to my one cup if you will.

I decided to confine with the not-so-lovable prankster Pete. A great sense of humour but notorious for being the sort of person who doesn’t know where the line is. The sort of person who when all others are entertaining each other hiding each others door passes, he’s found the car keys of the quiet guy and decided to hide his car. In the Thames. On fire. Exactly the sort of person who wouldn’t bat a moral eyelid at the plan I was formulating.

Some conferring on the practicalities later and the plan began to take shape with the following fictional scenario agreed upon.

“We’re refactoring the recruitment process in the department after concerns expressed that we’re not conducting things in the best possible way. In order to make this happen we want to film a sample interview from an experienced, valued interviewer (compliments++) to use for future training purposes. Pete would also be present in this interview to ensure the camera was working correctly and also with the view to introduce him to the company interviewing process. He would be taking notes during the interview to discuss with the interviewer at a later time.”

Convincing B, the interviewer, about the camera was trickier than anticipated. Naturally she wasn’t comfortable about being filmed during an interview and it was requiring some serious schmoozing, flattery and favour-calling to even get her to consider it. Of course appearing too keen was also a problem, as the last thing I wanted to do was make her suspicious. There was also a serious danger that she would twig the little technicality that recording an interview without telling the candidate was illegal. I’d like to think it was charm that eventually convinced her, but I’m sure it was sheer brute force in the end as I reeled off so much bullshit about improving recruitment, bringing people up to speed quicker, sharing knowledge etc. that I must have appeared as some inspirational recruitment superhero for an incredibly boring modern world.

With this done, and the interview booked into her calendar, I waited until the day of the interview itself before putting the finishing touches in place. I couldn’t risk anyone finding out anything as gossip problems in the company was notorious.

When the morning arrived, I booked the camcorder and a laptop from the support department for the exercise giving them the same reasons. I’m fairly sure they were convinced I was bullshitting them, but didn’t care enough to want to know more or bother disrupting my plans.

In the room booked for my “Knowledge Transfer” I set up the laptop and placed the microphone next to the phone speaker, conducting a test call with Pete to ensure the levels were alright.

There was just half an hour until the interview itself when disaster struck. A certain department Miss Conscientious who had overheard what was happening almost ruined everything when she noticed me carrying the camcorder and questioned the legality of the filming within earshot of B, the interviewer. I laughed it off, but inside added her to my hit list. Once B had moved away to the kitchen for a cup of tea, I took the opportunity to have a quiet word with Miss Conscientious and tried to explain to her with half-baked reasons why that wasn’t the case. I don’t know if it was the adrenalised look in my eye or the aggressive tone in my voice that made her suspect something was amiss, but I didn’t have time to put her off the scent. I told Pete to keep her away from the epicentre whatever way he needed to whilst I continued the set up of the sting.

A quick check through all the necessaries and I was ready.
* Bosses out of office
* Room booked for interview; Room booked for ‘candidate’.
* Camera set up in interview room, B & Pete booked in for interview.
* Laptop with recording software ready for ‘candidate’ room.
* Mobile battery full strength.

I sat in my room and awaited the call.

Now go back and watch the video at the start of this post and ask yourself, is there a space in your company for Flavaadit?

If you can’t be bothered to watch the video, as it is about 20 minutes long, here are some excerpts roughly paraphrased.

B: Can you tell me what DNS is?
Flavaadit: Ah yes, the Danish Nationalist Society, yeah?
B: Uh, no... No. Excuse me could you repeat what you say about DNS?
Flavaadit: The Danish Nationalist Society. I don't get it.
B: Ah, okay. So just, um, just forget about it...

B: If I asked you what software you're most familiar with, what would it be?
Flavaadit: I do use Internet Explorer a lot, if you know what I mean.
Flavaadit: You know, late nights.
B: Okay
B: Have you ever encountered any problem whilst using internet explorer?
B: Any crashes? Unexpected behaviour?
Flavaadit: Well I tend to find it doesn't deal very well with popups.
Flavaadit: Basically, you go to some sites and you're just riddled with popups.
Flavaadit: Spyware as well.
Flavaadit: It'll just leak pretty much anything.
Flavaadit: You're talking about completely innocent websites and you'll end up with so much spyware on your computer, you'll wonder
Flavaadit: "Are Microsoft themselves putting it on here?"

B: Could you tell me the operating system your machine is running?
Flavaadit: Operating System? Oh yes, Windows 98.
Flavaadit: Fantastic
Flavaadit: I mean basically, I never bought into this NT side of things.
Flavaadit: 98 does everything I want it to do I mean, really, NT, what does it add?

Flavaadit: Do you have any sort of, um, I don't know...
Flavaadit: Basically, I like coffee and biscuits.
B: Yes?
Flavaadit: Do you have free coffee and biscuits.
B: uh, is it- I don't think it's a relevant question.
Flavaadit: Really? Well, I guess if I'm going to be getting about 40k then it's not really gonna matter.
(, Thu 10 Jul 2008, 17:47, closed)
Danish Nationalist Society
Help yourself to a click for that one.
(, Thu 10 Jul 2008, 18:16, closed)
Clicky from me
Nice story.....gives me some ideas :)
(, Thu 10 Jul 2008, 20:01, closed)
Knowledge of the V-Model?
and Spatularva College?

This gets a click - for the non-nasty, time-wasting prankishness and apparently quite large amounts of effort involved.
(, Thu 10 Jul 2008, 22:02, closed)
Now re-edited
And now including both the video and the CV.

I wanted to get it posted before I went away, and since I've been sitting on this story for so long (this all happened about a year ago), I thought I'd re-edit it properly.

Edit: I've now changed the video permission so it's visible to all too
(, Wed 16 Jul 2008, 16:35, closed)

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