I have had quite a few conversations in 2011 with my search firm friends (all independent of each other) about how clients who in the process of a legitimate search (as in the search already started) have asked to see candidates from certain companies or firms.
While this is a common thing for hiring managers to want, people from a certain company, these conversations and perceived incidents seemed more of a “fishing expedition” to learn more about their competition.
A colleague in Silicon Valley was asked to add to the interview pool 2-3 candidates from a particular company. It was “out of place” to ask about it at that time.
During the post interview phone call my colleague learned that the questions these particular candidates were asked were much different than the rest of the pool.
One particular candidate shared some of the code he was working on with the CIO. For the candidate... he was sharing work samples. For the interviewing company... they were getting competitive intelligence.
Infrequently over the years there have been times when candidates tell me what questions they were asked and my ears perk up and I know the client was fishing for some info.
How often does this happen... there is no way to know but I am sure it is more common than we think.
Check this out...
CNBC picked it up (see the video below) and Eamon Javers (the link is to his blog about corporate espionage) mentions at the 1:46 minute mark the article he wrote in March of 2011 Secrets and Lies: The Rise of Corporate Espionage in a Global Economy in which he says it is believed the Chinese set up a fake executive search firm in Tokyo that sent email (Spam) to American executives.
The goal was to “interview” the executives but really it was about getting information.
If you get a few minutes this holiday weekend… it’s an interesting read about corporate espionage and a glimpse into some James Bond like activities.
The CNBC video:
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