To weed out proxy/fake interviewees my organization will conduct either a face to face or a skype interview so that at least the interviewers will be able to confirm the identity of the interviewee. Of course, this is just a beginning and isn't a bullet proof approach.

This becomes a great hurdle when interviewing, say, women wearing veil/hijab/niqab for religious reasons. Mostly, the only visible body part of a woman wearing a veil are their eyes.

What are some of the ways we could respectfully ensure that an interviewee who interviews wearing a veil is the same one who turns up to join us ?

"Hijab" or "ḥijāb" (/hɪˈdʒɑːb/, /hɪˈdʒæb/, /ˈhɪ.dʒæb/ or /hɛˈdʒɑːb/;1 Arabic: حجاب‎, pronounced [ħiˈdʒæːb] ~ [ħiˈɡæːb]) is a veil that covers the head and chest, which is particularly worn by a Muslim female beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family.

  • 14
    Is this something that has actually happened to you? You interviewed "John Smith" and made an employment offer, but the person who showed up to take the job was not the person you interviewed? Really? Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 13:49
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    Yes. This is a very common problem. More so when the offers are rolled out to contractors or people from different countries on work visas. Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 14:00
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    Do you have the right garment in mind? The hajib doesn't cover the face, why should there be an identity problem? Now, the niqab could be an issue. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 4:36
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    Just to keep terms straight: This problem only applies to women wearing a niqāb (face cover) or burqa (whole-body cover). The hijab is a veil that covers hair and chest, but leave the face free.
    – sleske
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 8:56

5 Answers 5


What are some of the ways we could respectfully ensure that an interviewee who interviews wearing a veil is the same one who turns up to join us ?

When the person shows up for work, ask a subset of the same interview questions and make sure the new answers match the old. Also ask a follow-on question to one of the original questions.

I've done this in the past with phone screens when it seemed "iffy". I have a few offbeat questions that I ask, and I write down all of their answers.

Then when the person shows up in the office, I ask some of those questions, and follow up - "So when I asked you X, you had an interesting answer. Can you tell me more?" Then I let them talk.

Only once was it clear that either this person in front of me wasn't the same person I talked with on the phone, or had completely forgotten everything they knew before. And of course this person was dismissed and the agency was immediately notified. Perhaps because we got a reputation, it never happened again.

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    "Got a reputation" - for foolishly demanding that the person you interviewed is the person who showed up for the job! You know, we go through great pains to ensure that the software artifacts we test are the same ones that go to production - when I think about it, this isn't all that dissimilar!
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 19:18
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    This technique is good because it generalizes. For example, it would also work for distinguishing identical twins. Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 19:33
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    So after the person starts working in your company, how do you authenticate her in the daily working activities? Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 19:57
  • I meant, when the person starts working in a company, how can the employer authenticate the person who comes to work is always the same, today, tomorrow, and the subsequent working days? Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 20:12
  • Reliable authentication systems can solve this issue. :-) Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 20:18

I'll offer this as a possible suggestion:

  1. Make sure the interviewer is female
  2. Ask the interviewee to remove the hijab

My understanding is that a Muslim should be able to remove her hijab if only females are present.

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    @DJClayworth I assume an unveiled photo in particular would be unacceptable. Confirming Identity towards a female colleage, maybe. But having to carry around a picture of oneself unveiled and show it on request defeats the whole ideology behind it. I think if confirming identity is that important a topic, people who hide it for religious reasons just can't work there. No body would expect a kettle farmer to start herding pigs because he has employees that for religious reasons can't handle cows, either.
    – CMW
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 16:46
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    The best explanation I have heard for hijab is that a woman who wears it feels about her hair the way most North American women do about their nipples. They'll show them to a doctor or perhaps another woman if there's a reason, they might not even mind the outline showing through the covering, but they don't want to be uncovered. Imagine a woman being asked to take her shirt off in a job interview - would that feel respectful to you? Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 18:05
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    Speaking as a Muslim, asking a woman who practices hijab to do this is like asking a non-hijabi woman to wear a bikini (I'm keeping the comment PG) for the interview cuz, hey, we're all females here, right? It would be a very uncomfortable experience, made worse is some male were to accidentally enter the interview room. Joe Strazzere's answer gives a much more helpful and generic way to test for someone faking a job interview
    – Zain R
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 20:36
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    @KateGregory: I'm sure this is a useful analogy but I have flown on a Middle Eastern airline where the majority of the female passangers were wearing full hijab. As soon as the seatbelts sign went off, the majority of the hijab wearers immediately took them off, spent the majority of the flight in western style clothes, and did not put them back on until time to prepare for landing. I've never experienced anything remotely similar when it comes to nipples. I'm only adding this so people can modulate how much they take in the analogy. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 6:21
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    As to whether removing the niqab is appropriate or demeaning to the women in question: Note that this is the official procedure used e.g. in Saudi Arabia: "We expect at Saudi Arabia airports that women remove their niqab for the female passport officer in a private room to examine the travel documents to match the face to the photo." (arabnews.com/respect-foreign-laws-customs-only-way-travel ).
    – sleske
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 9:19

Ignoring all legal aspects, as I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

It's not foolproof, but voice signatures should provide at least a basic bar for validating that the person who spoke to you during an interview is the person who arrived for work while not being overly invasive.

Fingerprinting would work better, but I expect would be wildly offensive. Gattaca-style DNA testing would also work... but is the definition of draconian.

Beyond that, requesting identifying documentation during the interview would at least provide a minor hurdle to would-be fraudsters.

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    This makes sense - how do people wearing Hijabs confirm their identity in other contexts? Open a bank account? (In the US, visit a doctor?) Cash a check? Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 15:47
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    @DanPichelman this is an unsolved problem. There has been a huge uproar in my country about asking women to remove their religious head wear to confirm identity. Ultimately this is a tradeoff between security/certainty and religious freedoms.
    – MrFox
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 16:03
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    Voice recognition over phone or skype is iffy at best. If you have an HD audio option (something closer to CD quality than phone quality) then it might work fairly reliably, but otherwise isn't really worth pursuing.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 20:55
  • @AdamDavis - certainly, but aren't the majority of interviews still done in person?
    – Telastyn
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 20:57
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    Good job you put that legal disclaimer, because without it you would have definitely opened yourself up a slew of lawsuits, or HR departments might have started taking random advice on the internet from some guy as legally authoritative. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 2:19

Executive Summary

If you are getting proxy/fake interviewees, there are deeper problems in your process than evaluating who is under the hijab. If people are trying this, it means you are conducting business in a way that makes it profitable to provide proxy/fake interviewees.

It sounds like you need to look at how you are managing contractors.

Responsibility for Results

If whoever you contract with has payment tied to results, then there is no incentive to provide fake/proxy interviewees. If person A proxy interviews because they can convince you they can do the job, but then person B is hired to really do it, there can be three results:

  1. Person B does the job fine, and there is no problem
  2. Person B doesn't do the job fine, and doesn't get paid
  3. Person B doesn't do the job fine, and does get paid

The only incentive to going through the hassle of dealing with proxy interviewers is if the third result is a possibility. Tying payment to results makes sure that there is no incentive to make a bait and switch.

Reliability of Contractors

If you are worried about fake/proxy interviewers, you must not have much faith in your contracts. After all, the contract should outline:

  1. Work to be done
  2. Parties to do it
  3. Whether subcontracting is allowed
  4. Who will be paid how much
  5. What penalties there are for breaking it

If subcontracting is allowed, it doesn't matter if the person you interview is actually going to be doing the work. If subcontracting isn't allowed, but you are concerned they will do it anyway, how can you trust that any other part of the contract will be followed either?

You should make sure that you are working with a reliable contractor who you trust to actually follow the contract, as a reliable contractor will be far more likely to accept a contract that ties payment to results. If payment is tied to results, in the worst case you don't get the work done, and you don't pay the contractor.

If the work is so critical that outcome is unacceptable, why are you outsourcing in the first place?

Background Checks

If you handle the previous two, the issue of identifying the person in the interview should be far less significant (since the person on the contract is the one who is responsible for results, and the one that will/won't get paid regardless of who you interview with). However, you may be concerned that if you get a resume from Jane Doe with experience X, Y, Z, that the person you are actually speaking to is the same Jane Doe.

Run a background check. Ask the person about the results of that background check. Ask them to show a state-issued ID (passport, national identification card, etc.) that verifies the details the background check digs up. If someone is so good at proxy interviewing that they prepare the other person's state-issued ID, memorizes their academic record, birth date, past employment, etc. then there really isn't going to be any way to effectively make sure that they are the same person in the first place.

Again, this is really a last-resort sort of thing, because a proper employer-contractor relationship will have disincentivzed fraud through the contract itself. If you can't trust the contract, then you shouldn't be using contractors in the first place for anything that you need to worry that much about.

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    This is true for contracting positions, but I think part of the problem is full-time hired positions. It's a lot easier to reject an applicant and hire a different one than it is to fire one and hire another one. A lot of companies temper this by having a period of probation, but it still involves a lot of additional effort and trouble that would be gone if you knew you were hiring the right person from the start. Note that hiring into a full time position has the results 1 or 3 - 2 isn't a possibility.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 14:09
  • You have to pay them for the time they were there, even if they don't work, and they may have an incentive to pretend to work for the 2-4 weeks it may take you to figure out they aren't really working and go through the sometimes long and torturous process of documenting their problems, giving notices that they need to improve, and finally going through HR to fire them. Even aside from the time and money lost, it's terribly hard on the managers that have to deal with this. No one likes dealing with a bad employee, nevermind telling them they're bad and firing them.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 14:09
  • @Adam, there are plenty of contracts with payment schemes other than hourly rates. There are also guarantees from the contracting party such as bank-guaranteed letters of credit. These all cost money of course, and if you're just looking for a cheapo contractor to dump work on, they probably aren't worth it, but if you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel to the extent that you need to worry about people trying to defraud you, the problem ain't identifying the person behind the hijab.
    – jmac
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 14:17

You are conflating several issues.

  1. You want to be sure that the person you hire has the experience, training, character, etc. which their resume and references state.
  2. You want to be able to verify the person who shows up to work as a legal right to do so, and that they have passed any required background, security, pre-employment physical, etc. requirements.
  3. You want to be sure that the person you interview is the person you hire.
  4. You assume you have the capacity to properly do these with a clear view of the person's face and some tiny little photograph on some government issued license, passport, badge or identity card, and would instantly spot any duplicity (e.g. makeup and wig to make one look like someone else).

I think the whole argument of whether it is like wearing a bikini (which, if you are applying for a job as a bikini model, would be quite reasonable to request) or showing off your nipples is rather silly. Most employers, even small ones, can figure out how to be culturally sensitive and do proper identity proofing.

Maybe it would be helpful having a female employee review the identity documentation while the job applicant removes anything obscuring facial/head features. (Humans are actually pretty good at recognizing faces--> we are evolutionarily hard wired to be able to do this from right about the time we are born. We suck, however, at matching signatures.). Having the candidate bring some picture with them is moot.

What you want is some government agency issued identification that includes a photograph, since that is a lot harder to fake than just printing out a selfie on your way from the kitchen to the bathroom to brush your teeth post-breakfast on your way to the interview. Natch.

You need to know who you are hiring, and verify that they have the background that they claim. Whether you are wearing a bikini, burqa, set of pasties, business suit, or ratty old jeans, a hoody and dirty Chuck Taylors doesn't matter. Retina, iris scan, voice print, finger print or other fancy biometrics isn't going to be nearly as useful as having someone who isn't a total idiot in charge of the interview and hiring process.

  • Nice one about state-issued ID. You do realize that often states allow people to cover their face on an ID picture if that is what their religion tells them to do? You state most employers know how to do ID-checking, but by far not all of them have to deal with these problems. Actually, some simply do not hire anyone who covers their face (or interview anyone they suspect might cover their face). That is also a solution, i guess - sometimes.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 13:59

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