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‘Who’s THAT Guy?!’ When Telework Security Takes a Left Turn

February 4, 2022 Leave a comment DRI Admin

With so much of the workforce currently in a work-from-home environment, keeping them – and your organization’s information – safe and secure from a distance is becoming a bigger priority for many companies. But what do you do when the employee on your computer screen suddenly seems like a whole different person?

That’s the dilemma posed in a recent Ask a Manager advice column, wherein a reader sent in this curious case:

“My husband works in IT and is on the leadership team at a midsized private company. He was part of a panel that recently interviewed a number of folks for an open position on his team. They are entirely remote. They had a few candidates for a first and second round, and had one make it to a third final round before an offer. “John” accepted the offer and started last week!

Except … it’s not the John my husband remembers. My husband was confused and said the following things were odd:

– John has different hair and now wears glasses.

– John is talking extensively about working in a garage because his three children and wife are home. In the interview, he made references to being single and was visibly in an indoor desk area.

– John can’t answer a number of questions that they previously discussed in the interview, things pretty pivotal to the position.

– Husband describes John as being aloof and pretty timid whereas John was confident and articulate when they interviewed him.”

As the couple tried to consider some rational explanations (maybe the hiring committee or HR mixed up the candidates?), other staffers also spotted something off about “John,” noticing a marked difference in behavior, lack of knowledge, and even failing to recognize the supervisor he’d interviewed with several times!

It didn’t take long for the HR, legal and security departments to get involved, but before they could figure out what kind of security risk John was, he abruptly announced “I quit” on the calls and went dark. Now the security team has to figure out if this was a serious security breach, a case of one person interviewing for another, Cyrano de Bergerac-style, or something even stranger.

Our own 2022 Predictions Report highlighted telework safety as continuing concern, and Ask a Manager advice columnist Alison Green confirmed that this indeed becoming a trend, particularly as more and more interviews are done online – so there’s a possibility you could run into a similar situation.

How would you handle it?

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