‘Munnabhai’ in short ‘M’ is an Indian filmy character who tops a competitive examination by sending some expert for writing the exam on his behalf. There are ‘M’s in the Information Technology and BPO businesses. A qualified guy walks in for the job interview, but when the offer is made, it’s an ill-qualified bloke who walks in for the job. All too frequently, they get away with the con act.

Impersonation is an issue that just about every company faces today. And experts say it’s become possible on account of the massive scales of recruitment that makes close scrutiny a difficult task. A CEO of a recruitment company says that in telephonic interviews, impersonation is in the range of 5% to 7%, while in face-to-face interviews it’s about 1-2% of the total number of candidates interviewed.

Wipro sacked about 50 people last year for impersonation and other kinds of faking, IBM sacked six and Accenture five. Typically, only 50% of impersonators are eventually identified and sacked, the others continue on the job. Such incidents were rampant between 1998 and 2000 when US companies used to hire Indian engineers through telephonic interview.

That trend is now resurfacing, predominantly in contract and temporary hiring wherein hiring rules are often relaxed.

But the ‘M’s are more daring today. Phil Calvin of Cisco India recently talked about an instance where a candidate interviewed through a video conference call turned out to be different from the one who eventually joined.

Another IT company official, who did not want to be named, mentions a recent instance of a person with very good communication skills who was interviewed. But the one who joined could barely speak English. The HR department now knows that it’s a clear case of candidate jockeying. The guy is going to be sacked soon. Experts say it is typically a friend who helps the ill-qualified candidate, though there are also instances where it’s one for monetary gain.

Quick mass hiring leaves a lot of loopholes for such unscrupulous elements to creep in. A typical interview, especially in a BPO/call center lasts for no more than 3 to 4 minutes, which makes verification very difficult, even if the candidate has provided his photograph. Some companies conduct 150 interviews per day. HR managers are now becoming extremely cautious of such impersonations and taking maximum possible precautions.