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Is cheating common during virtual onsite interviews now? What does everyone think?

In the journey of job hunting, virtual onsite has become a common stage. There's a phenomenon that sparked widespread discussion: some candidates seek help from others during their virtual onsite interviews. The methods might include screen sharing, remote operation, etc., to increase their chances of passing the interview. Opinions on this matter vary among individuals.

I want to share a personal experience. As a data scientist, I had a remote interview where I was required to share my screen to code in the first round, and then discuss machine learning knowledge in the second round. I forgot to stop the screen sharing, and when a question came up that I wasn't very familiar with, I thought of sneaking a peek at my notes (I've compiled over a hundred pages of notes on DS and ML interview topics) without the interviewer noticing. It was only after completing the entire interview process that I realized I hadn't stopped the screen sharing, and I panicked, thinking I had ruined my chances. Surprisingly, the hiring manager later contacted me to say they were impressed with my interview preparation and appreciated it, though, in the end, the offer didn't come through due to headcount limitations.

As an interviewer, I might encounter some dubious situations. Sometimes, candidates might not look directly at the camera or appear to be reading from somewhere while answering questions. Even with suspicions, interviewers might not act immediately. For instance, it's just a suspicion if someone doesn't look at the camera, as they might have multiple screens. Early in the COVID period, there were even situations where candidates didn't turn on their cameras at all. And as an interviewer, even if you're 80% sure of your suspicion, it might not feel appropriate to report it to the hiring manager or recruiter in case you're wrong. This could unjustly penalize someone. Another case involved a candidate from India whose interview performance was decent and matched his level, but after joining, he underperformed significantly and was let go within 3-4 months.

Many people might resort to clever tricks, like studying 400 questions and preparing notes or reminders for the ones they're not familiar with or don't fully understand. Helping someone cheat through interviews with companies like Google, Banana (a pseudonym), and Soft (another pseudonym) isn't as you might imagine. Most cheating doesn't involve giving direct answers to questions. Even if candidates have prepared, writing a perfect, bug-free solution within about 20 minutes can be challenging. The help provided is mainly to ensure their solutions are bug-free and perfect. It's like someone whispering the answer to you when you're stuck on a question - it doesn't mean you don't understand the material at all. During the pandemic in 2020, helping people cheat through numerous companies' interviews made getting an internship seem easy. For new grads, it was a bit tougher, but the success rate for internships was astonishingly high, which is something that might attract envy if spoken out loud.

It's not always easy to spot cheating. I've helped others cheat in interviews at Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Most of the time, cheating doesn't happen the way you might think. A question is asked, and then our group jumps in to directly provide the answers. A lot of interviewees have actually gone through the questions before, but it's hard to produce a bug-free solution on the spot. They have the idea, but to write a perfect, executable solution within about 20 minutes can be challenging. The friends I've assisted aren't clueless about the questions; in fact, they've already practiced them. The support is mainly to ensure their solutions are bug-free with minor adjustments to make the answers perfect. The interaction with the interviewer goes smoothly once they see the answer, so it's not a big problem. It's like having someone peeking over your shoulder when you're stuck on a question in a book, and you're not completely unfamiliar with the content, right? During the pandemic in 2020, helping people cheat through numerous companies made landing an internship seem easy. New grad positions were a bit more challenging, but I felt that the people I supported performed decently, although not all were passed by the interviewers. New grad interviews are somewhat enigmatic. As for internships... well, the success rate was incredibly high, almost to the point where talking about it might draw envy.

I'm curious about everyone's thoughts on this matter. Have you ever asked for or provided such help to someone? Honestly, it's tempting, especially now with the intense competition for internships. When you think about it, expecting someone to solve a complex problem perfectly and bug-free in a short time is not a very reasonable assessment method. So, isn't it normal to respond to an unreasonable evaluation method in an unreasonable way?

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