Magazine

Are You Hiring Terrorists?

Louis Rovner, Ph.D.

Editor's note: The following is not meant to frighten you or increase your level of paranoia, but simply to raise your consciousness. We hire entry-level people in our industry every day, many of whom were not born in this country. The vast majority is perfect for us, hard-working and loyal. However, there may be others who are not. This article gives you a bit of insight into how your interviewing techniques might be altered to help ensure that you are not hiring someone who could bring a lot of pain to you and your company.

Thousands of terrorists may call the United States home. Sleeper cells are scattered throughout our country, waiting for instructions. For the months or years they may have to wait, they need money to survive, and their income is not provided solely by their handlers.
Many, if not most, hold jobs in America. Their employers are potential targets of terrorist attacks. Even if these companies are not specifically targeted, they are indirectly supporting our enemies by providing a source of income for their agents.
What jobs are there for terrorists, you might ask. Members of terror organizations have a broad range of skills and experience that employers are looking for. It is likely that most of those in sleeper cells now hold jobs in our country.
Business owners and executives, human resources departments, and hiring managers should be aware that some job candidates could be terrorists. In addition to your company's standard screening and hiring procedures (skill testing, interviews, etc.), there are some things you can do to guard against unwittingly
hiring our enemies.
Job Applications -- Be An Investigator
A member of a terror group will almost certainly lie on his job application. Now, more than ever, it is essential that you verify every piece of information on that application. Call the human resources departments of all previous employers and see if the applicant's stated dates of employment and job titles match what he told you. If possible, talk to the applicant's supervisor at each of his previous jobs. If there are irregularities, the applicant may be lying to protect his true identity. (Of course, he may be lying merely to make himself look good. In either case, he's not the kind of employee you want.)
Verify his educational achievements. If he lists attendance at a high school, call it to see if he did. If he tells you he was enrolled in college, call the college's registrar for verification. The same goes for trade and vocational schools. Check out any professional associations and social groups he lists.
We all know lots of people are not entirely truthful when they apply for jobs. What we are looking for here is the person who is not just lying, but trying to create a false identity that hides his true motives. You must do all you can to ensure that the job applicant is actually who he says he is.
Background Investigations
If your company does not do background investigations as part of your pre-employment screening, you should start today. Don't let the cost scare you away. Competent companies charge as little as $25 for a service that includes a report of a person's criminal history, driving record, credit history and other important information. This should be matched against that given in the job candidate's employment application, and should also be considered on its own.
What to Look for at the Job Interview
One of the scariest things about these folks is that they look just like you and me. Indeed, terrorist recruiters seek out people who are reasonably intelligent and who don't stand out in a crowd.
While psychologists have not yet found a terrorist personality profile, most have a number of traits in common. Be aware of them, and use interview questions that will give you a hint that the applicant might be a threat.
Most terrorists possess the following traits:

* They are loners.
* They are dissatisfied with their lives.
* They have low self-esteem.
* They are true believers.
* They are antisocial.
* They lack pity or remorse.
* They have grievances against our country and our allies.
* They are tremendously loyal to their terrorist groups.

During the job interview, ask questions whose answers tell you whether the applicant possesses most or all of these traits.
For example, a question that gives us an idea of self-esteem might be: "What accomplishments are you most proud of?" A person with low self-esteem is not truly proud of anything he's done, and will have to work hard to think of an answer. Take note of long pauses here.
To see if the person is dissatisfied with his life, you might ask: "What are the three things you like most about your life?" You would be suspect if the candidate has to work hard to come up with just one or two things.
To gauge antisocial motivation, a good question would be: "Are there some kinds of people you just don't like?" Beware of the applicant who has a long list of these people.
Questions should be developed for all of the above traits. If an applicant shows indications of possessing most of them, you may be interviewing a terrorist. While not all people who share these traits are terrorists, all terrorists share them. In times like these, it's better to be safe than sorry.
The vast majority of people who apply for jobs with your company will not be terrorists. That should not stop you from being alert and aware. As long as there is a terrorist threat to our country, we must continue to be vigilant in all aspects of our lives. If you suspect a job applicant fits the description, don't hire him. If you are truly concerned, notify the proper authorities.

Dr. Rovner is a psychologist in Los Angeles. He consults to business, government and law enforcement agencies about a variety of issues, including terrorist psychology. You may call him at (818) 340-6963 or send an e-mail to Lou@TheInterviewDoc.com

Article Abstract from January, 2004




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