Plagiarism alert! The consequences of dishonesty in the graduate recruitment and selection process.

Plagiarism…the act or practice of taking someone else’s work, idea, etc., and passing off as one’s own.You may have come across plagiarism within the context of academic work. However some graduate recruiters have also found a very small number of applicants to be guilty of plagiarism through their recruitment and selection processes.

This post describes what plagiarism looks like in the context of the recruitment and selection process and the risks involved in committing it. It’s worth being aware that large recruiters have sophisticated mechanisms in place to detect plagiarism so it is highly likely you will be discovered at some point through the process.

What does plagiarism look like?

  • Plagiarism typed on an old typewriter.Multiple e-mail addresses: ‘enterprising’ students may attempt to make more than one application by using a different e-mail account through which to submit an application in the hope of increasing their chances of selection. Recruiters use software to check CV’s and applications to check for duplicate/very similar applications so you will be discovered – and this is likely to lead to an automatic rejection
  • Identical application form or CV content: if you and other students you know are applying for similar roles it may be tempting to borrow/share content to save time. After all, applying for graduate jobs is a time-consuming process. Don’t be tempted to do this; text-checking software will find you out, which will lead to rejection. If you have started a job and your recruiter discovers you have included inaccuracies in your CV or application, be aware that falsifying information is a sack-able offence
  • Scripted and copied video interviews: one recruiter discovered that not one but several students had produced virtually identical responses to a number of video interview questions. Whilst it’s impossible for recruiters to prevent applicants from sharing interview questions and aspects of recruitment and selection processes they have experienced through sites such as Glassdoor, it is ill-advised to pool responses in this way. Unsurprisingly rejections followed for all applicants who were discovered
  • Same answers in the panel interview:  it’s perhaps hardest to ‘game’ this aspect of the process- but why would you want to? Presumably if you’ve come this far you would genuinely want to get the job and will have done the necessary research to ensure you are well-prepared, able to engage authentically with prospective recruiters and discuss your achievements with confidence.

The consequences of deception

  • Rejection and humiliation: those applicants who cheated through the video interview were all subsequently withdrawn from the applications process.  Several of those students were advised that they were banned from ever re-applying to the organisation.
  • Damage to your institution’s reputation and fellow students: your University is likely to take a dim view of your activities and we will be informed by the recruiter of your behaviour. We meet with and speak to graduate recruiters constantly and so are made aware of such incidents. When these do occur recruiters do notify us and with permission will share details of students who fall foul of their procedures. We in turn notify the relevant Heads of Department to discuss what steps will be taken to deal with students. The University may choose to sanction you by pursuing the disciplinary procedure.
  • Disciplinary action: Warwick’s Major Offences of Misconduct within the Disciplinary process states: ‘Conduct which, by whatever means, interferes with the normal operation of the University’s business or which is likely to bring the University into disrepute’ and ‘False pretences or impersonation of others, within or outside the University, including but not limited to in connection with academic attainments or financial awards’

You may receive a formal reprimand and be expected to apologise to the recruiter. You will therefore not only have brought humiliation upon yourself but inflicted reputational damage upon your university.   Many large graduate recruiters provide generous funding to sponsor student clubs and societies in order to attract high calibre applicants. However they may think twice before continuing to do so where students have behaved in this way. This could therefore also have negative consequences on your fellow students.

Finance And Investment Concept - Risk Labeled Button On A Car DashboardIn conclusion plagiarism is a risky strategy and highly likely to backfire. If you are making applications, recruiters will be looking for unique and authentic documents and responses from candidates, not standardised, scripted responses. While some candidates may belong to the same clubs and societies or have had similar work experiences, the learning you’ve taken and presented in your applications will be different. There are no perfect model answers.

Copying others’ work also calls into question your integrity. Presenting the best version of yourself on paper and throughout the recruitment and selection process, investing the time to research, prepare and tailor your application remains the best way to increase your likelihood of success in the search for good graduate jobs. In short, there are no shortcuts to success.

‘I would prefer even to fail with honour than to win by cheating.’ Sophocles

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