I have to let it out. I know many of you would just shrug and wonder why I wouldn’t expect something like this to happen and make a big deal about it. Well – I expect it to happen, but I still want to make a big deal about it because I want to live in a better world with people of strong character.
We participated in a college’s recruitment process (not naming them because action of few should not cast aspersions on all). We are a bootstrapped, small company. We have limited resources. So, we decide to shortlist people with an online test. We set one up. The college is kind enough to set up supervision for us. But since the test is online, the students obviously have access to Internet. As it turns, out one of the programming questions is easy to find on Internet. We shortlist the students who perform decently and start interviewing them. I think you can guess what happens at this stage. Before interviews we look at their code. There are two or three sets of answers. And they have exactly same spacing inconsistencies, although the variable names have been changed and some have used “for” loop instead of “while”. Then we discuss the same problem that they solved in the test during the interview. Most of them have no clue about it. We still go ahead with the interviews, because it just doesn’t seem right that the college should have knowingly allowed cheating. Yet – something is wrong. Then by a stroke of luck, we figure it out. They had managed to find that question on Internet. And there were several solutions. Each set had chosen one of those solutions, changed the variable names, but forgot to check the indentation and spacing, whose abnormalities were the same for all those who copied the same answer.
No. I am not pragmatic. I won’t interview them any further. I terminated the recruitment process. I won’t continue just because “anyone would have done it” or “they are kids” or “it was my responsibility to make sure that they had no way of cheating available”. I might be a nobody and might not be able to change this big, bad world. Too many people might get away with unethical acts. And they need not just be the big shots, but even common people, like us. But when I have some power, the message I want to send is that it’s not okay to be unethical, it’s not okay to cheat. And I don’t want those who didn’t cheat to think “if only I had also cheated.”
And I absolutely don’t want such employees in my company who ethics and honesty I can not rely on.
P. S. The institute or the supervisors have not encouraged cheating. I am not blaming them at all. But I wasn’t going to hire the institute. I was going to hire individuals, whose ethics are questionable.
I refuse to be pragmatic.